Claudia Myers’ romantic comedy “Kettle of Fish” ponders the question: Can two different species fall in love? While Myers’ lead characters wonder if their frog and fish can mate, the ultimate question becomes the backdrop to the larger story about their owners, who muddle through NYC looking for love in all the wrong places. Recognizing that ultimately man and woman are different species when it comes to dating, we wonder if musician and commitment phobe Mel will ever realize that the perfect woman for him is right under his nose and if uptight zoologist, Ginger, will melt for Mel after all.
Mel, a jazz musician who loves his pet fish Daphne, has a life changing moment when he meets the enchanting bride, Diana. Anxious to not be late to her own wedding and spoil her yogurt-mogul fiancé’s mood, Diana jumps out of her limo and into the arms of Mel, who helps her get to the church on time. In fact, ironically Mel is heading to the same place in order to play at her wedding. Immediately, Mel becomes smitten with the beautiful blonde and ends up keeping the broken bracelet that she asks Mel to hold for her. After the reception, Mel’s relationship with his girlfriend ends bitterly, which forces him to enter into a rooming situation with the British scientist and frog enthusiast, Ginger, to whom he subletted his apartment. As a result, the audience, along with Mel’s faithful buddy, Freddie, and Ginger, the animal behaviorist, begin to wonder if Mel has suddenly lost his mind as he pursues the bride in earnest.
Mel offers a great lead role for 80’s star Mathew Modine. The perennially youthful Modine infuses Mel with a boyish charm reminiscent of his turn as Louden in the 1985 film “Vision Quest.” Yet while his looks may have remained the same, his acting has only gotten stronger. Here Modine is at his comedic best, allowing Mel to be both funny and vulnerable. In the role of Ginger, Gina Gershon acts as a wonderful foil to Modine’s lovesick Mel. Sporting a British accent and spectacles to tone down Gershon’s overt sexuality, it is a delight to see Gershon’s character transform from nerdy scientist into Mel’s passionate love interest. Next Christy Cashmen and Fisher Stevens round out the cast to provide some wonderful comedic moments as the husband and wife, who in the end appear perfect for one another. Stevens’ turn as the self-absorbed yogurt maker who is launching a new marketing campaign complete with yogurt cup designs that feature his face steals all of his scenes. And finally, TV actor Isiah Whitlock Jr.’s engaging portrayal of Freddie, Mel’s confidant, jazz partner and friend, proves that he is an emerging Indie star.
Clever and lighthearted, with wonderful music and gorgeous scenery, “Kettle of Fish” is a charming piece of make believe. The music of jazz and New York City herself almost become their own characters in the film. In fact, cincinematographer Neil Lisk handles The City with the same visual affection as seen in most of Woody Allen's films set in New York. In the end, Myers has created what even producer Laura Bernieri in the Q & A refered to as a delightful piece of “fluff.” A witty and fun film that seeks to modernize the battle of the sexes theme, “Kettle of Fish” should be served with a big bag of popcorn on the side.