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With: Rachel Griffiths, David Roberts, Sandy Winton, Yael Stone, Shaun Loseby, Trent Sullivan, Rebecca Frith, Felix Williamson, Ann Burbrook, Maeliosa Stafford, Terence Crawford, Christine Stephen-Daly, Kirstie Hutton, Donal Forde, Frank Whitten
Written by: Pip Karmel
Directed by: Pip Karmel
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality and some language
Running Time: 104
Date: 09/05/1999

Me Myself I (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Seeing Double

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Me Myself I is another of those alternate reality movies, like Sliding Doors (1998), Run Lola Run (1999), and Twice Upon a Yesterday (1999) that have been popping up a lot in the last couple of years. (And I admit to liking all four of them to varying degrees.)

In this one Rachel Griffiths stars as a single successful journalist who longs for a boyfriend. When she gets into a car accident she meets "herself" from another reality in which she married her high school sweetheart (David Roberts) and has three kids. She is then unexpectedly thrown into this reality and must figure out how to live in it, and decide whether she likes it.

The movie, written and directed by Pip Karmel (the editor of 1996's Shine), plays around with the expected jokes, like trying to find stuff in an unfamiliar kitchen, taking kids to the bathroom, putting a diaphragm in, etc. But it also comes up with unexpected moments of tenderness, as when Griffiths sees her "husband" for the first time, coming home from work. She gazes deeply into his eyes, and he passes right by with a quick kiss, just one of many trips home for him.

All this works mostly because of Griffiths' performance. She's an incredibly lovely and skilled actress, as shown by her work in such varied films as the heavy dramas My Son the Fanatic (1999) and Hilary and Jackie (1998), and comedies My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) and Muriel's Wedding (1994). But those were small roles. This is the first time that she's been on screen long enough to really shine. She has a sexy earthiness and a playfulness that lend a happy weight to Me Myself I. In so many little moments she just does all the right things.

Some of the little moments concern Griffiths' character, who has not had sex in a long time, being overwhelmingly attracted to her "husband," whom she's fantasized about marrying. The husband, on the other hand, has been married to her for years, and hasn't found time to think about sex in awhile. To that end, Me Myself I is at its best when it's dealing with the human and emotional sides to this story, rather than the corny physical ones (like trying to figure out where the kids' school is).

Me Myself I thankfully doesn't waste time cutting back and forth between two possible alternate lives. It focuses almost entirely on the journalist trying to make it as a wife and mother), she only has one real character to develop, and not two. Likewise, in the 1980s, when we were deluged with body-switching movies like 18 Again (1988), Like Father, Like Son (1987) and Vice Versa (1988), Penny Marshall's Big (1988) was the standout because it only had one story to tell (young boy trapped in man's body).

Still, it bothered me that such a lovely, strong, and independent woman should put such emphasis on finding a man. There's even a pseudo-suicide scene after she discovers that a man she's met has a wife and kids. The movie tries to iron this problem out to some extent, but the message is still there.

Otherwise Me Myself I is decidedly lightweight. To some extent, it feels like an American romantic comedy, stamped out from a studio assembly line and summed up in a quick sentence in "TV Guide." But because it is Australian in origin, it manages to retain some of its exotic quality. And it has that snap that most good romantic comedies have that makes it a worthwhile afternoon with your sweetie.

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