As a lifelong Philadelphian born and raised, I must admit to being rather proud of the movies that have been produced here. OK, so we're not exactly "Hollywood East," but Philly was the birthplace for Rocky, 12 Monkeys, Trading Places, The Sixth Sense, and Blow Out. Unfortunately Philadelphia was also the breeding ground for Mannequin, Two Bits, Downtown, and Worth Winning. Oh well, at least the cheese steaks are always good!
Hey, how's this for a surefire comedic concept: a seriously hunky bachelor makes a bet with his moronic friends that he can get three specific women to accept his fake marriage proposal ... after which he'll simply dump each woman and receive an original Picasso as a reward.
With a concept like that, it's plain to see why Worth Winning died a quick death at the box office -- but here's a better question: Who thought this would make for a good movie in the first place? The problem is as clear as day: if our "hero" is a selfish and emotionally abusive jerk who exists only to manipulate and abandon three innocent women ... then what does that make the spectator? You're either a guy rooting this jerk on, or you're silently seething at the movie's outrageously chauvanistic perspectives. And don't give me any of that "Oh, but he learns his lesson in the end!" garbage, because I've seen the ending of Worth Winning, and it's as transparently shallow as the rest of the movie.
And let's take it a step further! Let's say our "hero" does manage to get all three women to accept his faux marriage proposal. And then he has to dump each one. And then we're actually supposed to BUY the inevitably outlandish 'happy ending' in which one of the women ... forgives him? Oh please. What's bizarrely humorous is that this smarmy smack in the face to women was actually written by a pair of females! Then again, Sara Pariott & Josann McGibbon would later go on to write Three Men and a Baby as well as Runaway Bride. So perhaps they're not selling out their gender for a quick buck; maybe they're just terrible screenwriters.
Mark Harmon plays our leading lothario, and (for some bizarre reason) he chooses to talk directly into the screen throughout the entire movie. As if we're conspirators in his abusive little scheme. No thanks, Mark. The guy does display some of his old-(Summer)-School-style charm, but it's wasted in the vacuum of Worth Winning's witless screenplay. Madeline Stowe is saddled with the "artsy ballbuster" role, Lesley Ann Warren is given nothing more to do than jiggle around in lingerie, and the funniest woman in the cast (Andrea Martin) gets to be the frumpy shrew ... mainly because she's not pretty, I suppose.
Forget that the entire premise of Worth Winning is tacky and unpleasant. Ignore the fact that it wastes some truly talented performers with very little effort. And try to ignore the incessantly irritating way in which our smug sex-hero likes to wink at his own audience -- Worth Winning doesn't offer one single laugh. Anywhere.
Video: It's a Fox catalog title, which means you can have some fun choosing between Widescreen Anamorphic (1.85:1) or Fullscreen (1.33:1). Either way the movie looks about as good as it does on Comedy Central. (OK, it's not that bad, but the movie just pissed me off a whole lot.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 (English or Spanish), French Mono. Optional subtitles are offered in English and Spanish. Not much to hear here folks; move along.
Extras: The original theatrical trailer and (thankfully) nothing else.
Worth Winning grossed less than $3.7 million when it was released in October of '89. Critics trashed it, audiences dismissed it, and the thing doesn't even have the smallest of "cult" followings. Aside from a strangely eclectic collection of supporting actors, Worth Winning offers nothing you'd want to spend 90 minutes with. I could forgive the smugness and the casual abuse of women ... if only the damn thing were funny!