Oil & Water (2006) – By Joshua Samford

 Oil & Water, if you think really hard the title pretty much gives away the plot of the film; then the tagline "Do opposites really attract?" definitely tells you exactly what you’re in for too. Oil & Water is a fairly unconventional (in this day and age, and I’ll get to that in just a second) and unrepentent romantic comedy. That by itself has already probably lead many of the more macho readers to skip on to a scifi review about giant lizards or apes located no doubt somewhere in this magazine, but I’m here to say it isn’t all bad. This isn’t your average Julia Roberts flick by any stretch of the imagination. I’d go out on a limb and say that the leading actress Rosemary Gore with this one film displayed more comedic timing and vulnerability as an actress that Roberts has in the past decade (I mean, did you see her in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind? Yeeesh). Oil & Water is a romantic comedy with more in common with the golden age of cinema. Really, from the color and lighting to the way the characters play off of one another, if you replaced the leads with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, sapped out the color and removed what little profanitys are found in the film – I think this film would be indistinguishable from that era. This is actually a treat for me, being that I am a big fan of films such as The Philidelphia Story and The Apartment. Oil & Water is saccharine to a point, but is grounded in our reality for sure. There is a very simplistic feel to Oil & Water that is refreshing for the genre. Something that truthfully I have only found recently in South Korean cinema, with their simple, lovey-dovey and high focus on sillyness – along with O&W, the real birthplace for these sorts of films I see are with the golden age of Hollywood. Now, don’t get me wrong, the majority of this film here – nothing but arguing and namecalling. It’s part of the oil and water seperation hinted at in the title, two characters that absolutely despise one another are drawn and eventually attracted to each other. Not an entirely a new subject, but Oil & Water at least offers a fresh tackling of this subject. Focusing on the egos of the main characters, and although Rosemary Gore’s Ms. Gabby is a slightly more presentable character, she too suffers a massive ego that is just too much for most people.

The basic plot for Oil & Water covers two massive egos colliding like a jet in the sky. Ms. Gabby is a columnist in a big paper and writes one of the most popular articles in her Ask Gabby column. When she is given the opportunity to co-host a celebrity talk show alongside Dan Lake, a TV news personality, she snaps at the opportunity. Things seem A-OK, until she actually meets Dan – who is a pompous, self centered all around jerk who has added a dozen or so stipulations in the contactual agreements with the station that gives him start priveledges and pretty much relegates Gabby to being his second fiddle. Gabby, who feels she has worked hard for her shot at this opportunity and doesn’t respect the years that Lake has put into his proffession – sets out to make the playing ground equal. It doesn’t take long before the two are at war with one another, and sabotaging each other at any chance they can get. After an explosive argument on-air with each other and the celebrity guest – it would seem the two would be looking for jobs elsewhere; but the public eats it up. Pretty soon the whole world is tuning in to see the two argue back and forth and one-up each other; assuming the two are a couple. Tensions rise between the two, and just maybe there is something to those rumors afterall. Do opposites really attract?

O&W is far from a perfect film. All too often the budget does shine through, and with the high concept qualities of the script, the film would have worked possibly a little better if it was taken to a slightly smaller venue. Like stressing that the characters are hosting this show on a local station, and not something the likes of NBC or what have you – as the sets all too often look like those you might find at a local independent station in a smaller area. Another problem I could see is the constant bickering between the characters maybe annoying some. I personally saw it as amusing, but then I wasn’t sitting with a group of four friends and situations like that tend to amp up any feelings of annoyance in a film. I’m sure you’ve all been there, one character being slightly annoying to a close friend of yours – then for the rest of the movie all that guy talks about is how much he hates that particular character. Happens to me more times than not, and I could see Dan Lake (who, well, has a slightly rigid way of speaking and comes off less like Andy Rooney and more like a shakespearean actor trying to grind your nerves). Still, if you sit back and try to keep such things out of your mind the film really does work. There is a great chemistry between the leading characters, and Rosemary Gore really stands out as a true talent. With her slight southern twang and very excited performance, I could see a very bright future for her if she runs into the right people. Definitely check it out if you get the opportunity, it’s available on netflix and many online retailers. It’s a fun and innovative romantic comedy and that’s all that needs to be said.