It Happened One Weeknight, 8/7 Central

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Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 8 2010 8:49 AM

It Happened One Weeknight, 8/7 Central

It's been rough out there lately for rom-com enthusiasts. What's a girl raised on William Powell and Myrna Loy to do, surrounded by a sea of bland Katherine Heigls and Gerard Butlers? But then, just last evening, I happened upon a bright spot of hope, the trailer for Parker Spitzer .

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It starts, as such things often do, with jaunty, unidentifiable jazz; a panoramic urban nightscape backdrop; soft, flattering lighting. Our heroes, we are so given to understand by their fixation with discussing Middle Eastern policy instead of feelings, are sophisticated city-dwellers, obsessed with their work, probably a little lonely, definitely afraid to let love in. All the better for it to strike unexpectedly on the job, and from the sparks crackling between these two, we won't have to wait very long.

The male lead, Eliot Spitzer, has, of course, a reputation as bit of a cad. Our pretty heroine, Kathleen Parker, is popular , yet hasn't lost her old-fashioned morals. (Pearls and a pink cardigan was a genius stroke from wardrobe—a visual nod to a John Hughes classic never hurt a rom-com.) He's the Patrick Swayze to her Jennifer Grey, the John Travolta to her Olivia Newton-John. No, wait—she's no soft pushover, despite the pearls—listen to that steely determination in Kathleen's voice, the way she keeps her arms crossed even as she bats her eyes at the confident charmer, so tantalizingly close, the way she reminds him they must, must focus on the issues, even in the face of such delightful distractions. We begin to see that, in fact, she's the Vivien Leigh to his Clark Gable, the Katharine Hepburn to his Cary Grant.

Oh, the snappy dialogue, the witty repartee! The ideological differences, the obvious passion! The mature confidence of the stars! If Eliot didn't have such a complicated public relationship with some related words, I'd go ahead and call this screwball! Kathleen's lips say she's tired of discussing tax policy with him, but the glint in her eyes and the subtle lean of her shoulder tell a different story. He, meanwhile, tells us he loves tax policy ... but is it possible he's using tax policy as a stand-in for you know who ? Eliot leans back with the confidence, the expansive hand gestures, of a man who knows the woman beside him is beginning to fall for him, and couldn't be more thrilled. Kathleen, for her part, lets loose a throaty laugh at the slightest provocation. "Do you see people's eyes glazing?" she asks. He answers in the affirmative—but it's a lie. Neither of them has been able to look away from the other's liquid pools; their remarkably unbroken eye contact lasts nearly the length of the trailer.

Kathleen challenges Eliot, asks him to relate as an equal, to call their collaboration Parker Spitzer over Spitzer Parker , which, she flirtingly explains, "rolls off the tongue." The cameras zoom in on Eliot's green eyes. He closes them slightly and promises that, yes, fine, her name can come first, but not before specifying that he'll cash in a favor later, "a player to be named later." He accedes, and demurely, happily, she lowers her eyes. Then, finally, they both turn to us, the audience, letting us in on a little of the glow. "Parker-Spitzer," she says. "I love it," he finishes her sentence. When will Eliot be able to stop using stand-ins for the true object of his love?

I can't wait to find out what the plot twist will be. Will they have a seemingly unresolvable debate over the efficacy of FinReg? Will their love be pulled down by the Afghanistan quagmire? Will he call in his favor to change her mind on tax cuts for the wealthy? I'll be tuning in on Oct. 4 to find out. 

Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.

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