|Love Potion No. 9|
|Directed by||Dale Launer|
|Written by||Dale Launer|
|Produced by||Dale Launer|
Thomas M. Hammel
|Edited by||Suzanne Pettit|
|Music by||Jed Leiber |
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Love Potion No. 9 is a 1992 American romantic comedy film starring Tate Donovan and Sandra Bullock. The film takes its name from the 1959 hit song, "Love Potion No. 9". The story is about a love potion, that enables a person to make people of the opposite sex become completely infatuated with them by simply talking.
Paul Matthews is a lonely biochemist with a crush on his co-worker, biologist Diane Farrow. His three friends take him to a gypsy on 34th and Vine named Madame Ruth. After reading his palm and seeing absolutely no romance in his life, Ruth opens a large bottle containing a thick liquid she calls Love Potion No. 8 and gives him a small amount on a piece of paper. She tells him to dilute the mixture and drink it to improve his love life. As a scientist, Paul has doubts and ends up throwing it in the trash when he gets home. Around this time, Paul's friends buy him the services of sex worker named Marisa, but all they do is talk. Meanwhile, Diane is having her own romantic issues, being very self-conscious about her homely appearance and only receiving physical affection from repeat one-night stands with a cruel acquaintance named Gary.
That night Paul's cat gets into the trash and eats some of the potion, then meows and attracts all the other cats in the neighborhood. When Paul sees the results, he takes it to Diane the next morning. They feed a small amount to a female chimp in Diane's lab and witness the same results, a male chimp flying into a sexual frenzy upon hearing her voice. After analyzing the potion, they learn the "scientific" properties of it, which causes anyone who drinks it to attract members of the opposite sex with their voice for a period of four hours. After analyzing it, they decide to use themselves as human test subjects, dividing the remaining potion into spray bottles. Diane uses the potion to improve her life and ends up attracting an Italian car mogul and the prince of England, ending up getting a makeover in the process. During one of Diane's dates with the prince of England Gary appears at her house and gets told to leave at Diane's request by the prince's security, angering him. Meanwhile, Paul has a string of hookups with women in bars, supermarkets, cars, sorority houses etc.
Over time Paul and Diane realize their romantic attraction to each other and become a couple. Eventually, Paul plans a proposal to Diane; however, when he goes to her house to do so, she's not there. Later, she tells him she has fallen for Gary. Paul is devastated and decides he wants to get her back. He meets with Diane and attempts to confess his feelings until Gary calls her on her cell phone and instructs her to never see Paul again. Diane tells Paul she can't see him anymore and leaves, breaking his heart. Marisa returns to Paul's house and after raiding his medicine cabinet for any useful drugs, finds and uses the spray bottle containing the potion, causing Paul to gladly give her all his valuables, including the last of his potion with instructions on how it works.
After "waking up" from his infatuation, Paul realizes that how he was behaving on the potion matches Diane's sudden infatuation with Gary. He returns to Madame Ruth and confirms that somebody looking like Gary has purchased the entire bottle of love potion No. 8. He phones Diane to tell her Gary is using the potion on her, but Gary forbids her to talk to him. After weeks of unsuccessful attempts, Paul goes back to Madame Ruth, asking for an antidote. She provides Paul with the only solution, Love Potion No. 9. Unlike number 8, it does not create feelings of love, but removes the things obscuring it (such as potion No. 8) forever. Solidifying eternal true love between those who drink it together five minutes after they share a kiss. However, if Diane was never truly in love with him, Paul will love her forever, and she will eternally hate him.
Paul asks his three friends to help him in forcing Diane away from Gary and to take No. 9, but they don't believe him. Marisa arrives at Paul's and uses No. 8 to rob all of them and learn that Gary has purchased the entirety of No. 8. After proving the power of the potion, Paul's friends agree to help. When they arrive at Diane's house, Diane's friend and matron of honor tells them Diane and Gary are marrying in an hour, but that she suspects something is wrong with Diane. Seeing her friend go from a lonely single woman to having a string of handsome wealthy boyfriends, to being in love with Paul and now suddenly marrying a man she never loved. Paul explains what is happening and she agrees to help.
The group arrives at the church to enact their plan, but things go terribly wrong. Diane's friend successfully gives her potion No. 9 but before Paul can drink from the glass and kiss her to activate it, Marisa arrives and enchants Paul's friends, preventing them from restraining Gary who then drinks No. 9 by accident and kisses Diane. Paul attempts to drink the potion and kiss her, but Gary throws him out and has him arrested. Marissa then uses the potion on Gary, having him give her the bottle of no. 8. As Gary is on the potion as well, he enchants Marisa. Gary, having drank No. 9 five minutes prior, feels drawn back to Diane and returns to the ceremony to marry her. Marissa, now infatuated with Gary, drinks some of the pure undiluted No. 8 from the bottle, causing all men in the church who hear her voice to stampede toward her, causing havoc and effectively ending the wedding. Marissa running screaming through the streets causes every man within ear shot to chase after her, giving Paul the opportunity to escape the police. Paul drinks Potion No. 9, kisses Diane and waits five minutes. The effect kicks in and Diane runs away from Gary into Paul's arms.
The film gives a pseudoscientific explanation as to how Love Potion No. 8 "works." It is explained:
- When swallowed it affects the vocal cords directly so that when you speak micro-tremors encoded within your voice stimulate tiny little hairs in the inner ear of the opposite sex. The hair vibrates, sending a signal along a nerve to the brain, which in turn produces a combination of mood-altering, endogenous chemicals responsible for the biochemical process of falling in love. It makes members of the same sex hostile. It only works for four hours at a time.
Love Potion No. 9 prevents love from fading, and overrides the effects of Love Potion No. 8.
- Tate Donovan as Paul Matthews
- Sandra Bullock as Diane Farrow
- Mary Mara as Marisa
- Dale Midkiff as Gary Logan
- Hillary B. Smith as Sally
- Anne Bancroft as Madame Ruth
- Dylan Baker as Prince Geoffrey
- Blake Clark as Motorcycle Cop
- Bruce McCarty as Jeff
- Rebecca Staab as Cheryl
- Adrian Paul as Enrico Pazzoli
- Ric Reitz as Dave
Emanuel Levy of Variety called it "a light-hearted one-joke romantic comedy" and that it "tries too hard to be cute. Glib humor and emphasis on "feel good" values aim squarely at the dating crowd and twenty-something couples. But lack of real wit and comic vitality, absence of star names and sluggish pace make pic less appealing than it might have been." Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "D" grade.
The film opened in 278 theaters and earned $416,641 in its opening weekend, and its North American domestic total was $754,935.