Cutting Edge, The (United States, 1992)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Romantic comedies are a dime-a-dozen, and most of them fail because they pursue slapstick while losing sight of the characters. Because The Cutting Edge doesn't fall into that trap, it results in an enjoyable lark. Despite a recycled plot, this appealing motion picture is likely to be embraced by everyone who enjoys a little romance.

It's "The Taming of the Shrew" on ice, even down to the name of the female lead. Kate Mosely (Moira Kelly) has been a pairs skater for most of her life, and her ultimate goal has always been an Olympic gold medal. But, despite her talent, she has an attitude problem that drives partner after partner away until even the least experienced skaters would rather "sleep with [a] cross and wear garlic" than join Kate on the ice. So, when her coach (Roy Dotrice) becomes desperate, he tries something unconventional - seeking out ex-Hockey star Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney), who's spending his days working at his brother's sports bar while coming to grips with the reality that an eye injury has ended his professional dreams.

The Cutting Edge is not built on storyline. From the opening scene to the closing credits, there is not one new plot element in this entire movie. Zip. Nada. Zilch. We've seen it all before, whether in sports films or romantic comedies. Those looking for originality had best search somewhere else. However, there are some movies where plot has to play second string to characters, and this is one of them. Kate and Doug are refreshingly real and immensely likable. Their love/hate relationship is played out perfectly, recalling the Bruce Willis/Cybill Shepherd sparring matches of Moonlighting, albeit without all the teasing. It's the romantic tension, not the skating story, that holds The Cutting Edge together.

Credit D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly for their energetic and enthusiastic portrayals of the two leads. They create a Doug and Kate who seem more like living, breathing people than caricatures designed to make us laugh. They have achieved that difficult-to-attain level of perfect chemistry that is necessary to the success of any movie of this sort.

The Cutting Edge is marred by a few technical problems (choppy direction and editing), although it's almost impossible to distinguish the stunt skaters from the actors, and the choreography (by Robin Cousins) is excellent. The soundtrack is an effective mix of recognizable and obscure tunes, including a new closing song recorded by Joe Cocker.

Anyone expecting a movie dominated by figure skating will be disappointed. The Cutting Edge concentrates on its characters, with the skating limited to a supporting role. This is not a movie for cynics, nor for those who don't occasionally like to sit back and enjoy an undemanding, "comfortable" film. For unadulterated fun, The Cutting Edge may not earn a gold medal, but it's worth at least a bronze.

Cutting Edge, The (United States, 1992)

Director: Paul M. Glaser
Cast: D.B. Sweeney, Moira Kelly, Roy Dotrice, Terry O'Quinn, Dwier Brown
Screenplay: Tony Gilroy
Cinematography: Elliot Davis
Music: Patrick Williams
U.S. Distributor: MGM
Run Time: 1:40
U.S. Release Date: 1992-03-27
MPAA Rating: "PG" (Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1