This by-the-numbers, culture-clash comedy is a new spin on I Love Lucy, the '50s TV show in which Lucille Ball battled with Latin bandleader husband Ricky Ricardo (played by real-life spouse Desi Arnaz). Andy Tennant and scripter Katherine Reback make references to the sitcom but, like most of this pointless, hollow comedy, they miss.
Fools Rush In does have two attractive, crest-of-a-wave stars - one from the hit TV comedy of the moment, the other with two high-profile, fanbase-building pics behind her. But this work wastes their talents so much you wonder why the makers didn't opt for unknowns. More bewildering is the lack of chemistry between Perry and Hayek. How could this turbo-gorgeous Mexican have had such a trouser-igniting effect in Desperado as the perfect screen mate for the equally beautiful Antonio Banderas, when her "head-over-heels" romance with the clean-cut Perry is flatter and limper than a stale fajita?
Admittedly, Chandler from Friends is less a romantic hero than the ponytailed, bolero-jacketed, gun-waving Banderas, but this film may have worked better if more attention was paid to the obvious non-attraction between the two leads, rather than the demographic logic of their casting.
Perry occasionally shows comic timing, but the gag-free script means his arm-waving, mugging and double-taking operate in a vacuum. Just as Kudrow could only play Phoebe in Romy And Michele, so Perry as Alex is like Chandler Bing scripted by idiots. The only scenes which convey any lasting impact among the tired romance, dumb-ass jokes and clichéd snapshots of Isabel's extended Mexican family are those featuring Alex's uptight, old money East Coast parents. These are played with pompous straight-laced relish by Matthew's real-life pappy John Bennett Perry and character actress par excellence Jill Clayburgh, whose Ab Fab performance as Alex's alcohol-swigging mother begs an inquest into why she doesn't get employed much more often. But competent, veteran thesping isn't enough to save Fools Rush In. The film is too good-natured to be really hated, but it's bottom-shelf material that's only worth checking out when you've watched your local video shop run dry.