The two-star rating here is for Beau Bridges and especially Stockard Channing. Without them, "Married to It" wouldn't deserve any kind of notice.
But these two talented pros, playing a pair of former hippies now struggling to raise two kids and hold down low-paying, idealistic jobs in New York City, give it their all, which is considerable, and almost make the film worth seeing. Almost.
Unfortunately, two other couples get equal screen time in this ensemble comedy-drama, a strange cross of "The Big Chill" and "Wall Street": Wealthy, sophisticated businesswoman Cybill Shepherd, who has no children, and her toymaker husband Ron Silver, whose young teenage daughter is doing her best to break them up; and young, naive newlyweds Robert Sean Leonard (of "Dead Poets Society") and Mary Stuart Masterson ("Fried Green Tomatoes").
Masterson and Leonard are appealing in their roles as, respectively, a junior high school psychologist and an up-and-coming Wall Street wiz. But Silver and Shepherd are quite obnoxious, especially Shepherd, whose attempted comic delivery of some of the screenplay's best lines is awful.
Not that the screenplay's best lines are all that good. Janet Kovalcik's best-recognized credits are mediocre TV movies ("The World's Oldest Living Bridesmaid," "Maybe Baby") and "Married to It" has the look of a sitcom pilot, except for the plethora of four-letter words, which are awkwardly used and intrusive. And veteran director Arthur Hiller, who has made comedies both good ("Silver Streak," "The In-Laws") and bad ("See No Evil, Hear No Evil," "Romantic Comedy"), seems at sea here.
The story has this unlikely trio of married couples coming together at the junior high school, where they are thrown together to plan a pageant, with the theme being . . . what else? . . . the '60s!
So, they begin spending weekly evenings together, at first not getting along very well and finding the situation quite awkward, then gradually becoming close friends. And, of course, each goes through a marriage crisis, which will be neatly wrapped up in the end. (And Leonard is arrested for stock fraud, though there's never any doubt that he was set up.)
Some of the ideas here are amusing and Bridges and Channing have a great time lampooning the '60s as they try to maintain their ideals he's a social worker and she's with a nonprofit organization trying to fund the arts. It's especially funny when they try to put on a conservative air for their children.
But the film is too long by a third, too cute and pretentious by half, and Shepherd is a major liability. Then there are the preachy platitudes everyone gets to give a little serious speech by the end.
"Married to It" is rated R for considerable profanity and vulgarity, some graphic sex and partial nudity.