In this charming romantic comedy, a brilliant but lonely biochemist (Tate Donovan) gets a mysterious potion from a gypsy who guarantees it will turn his life around. After showing it to his co-worker (Sandra Bullock), a shy animal psychobiologist, they achieve amazing amorous results in a chimpanzee experiment. Now the only way to see if it works on humans is to test it on themselves.
The premise of Love Potion #9
--that a magic potion makes the user irresistible to the opposite sex--could be the setup for the crassest sex farce imaginable. Instead, this film is a surprisingly subtle romantic comedy. Nebbishy scientist Paul (Tate Donovan) goes to a Gypsy fortuneteller (Anne Bancroft), who tells him she sees no women in his entire life. To make up for this depressing news, she gives him a few drops of a love potion--number 8. Paul, a biochemist, scoffs; but when his pet cat accidentally gets a taste and attracts every female cat in the neighborhood, he enlists fellow dweeby scientist Diane (Sandra Bullock) to analyze it. After experimenting on monkeys, they decide to test it on themselves; soon Diane is being pursued by handsome Italians in the street and comes close to marrying the Prince of England, while Paul gets a little revenge on a woman who previously rejected him, then embarks on his own love spree. Shortly they discover that they really want each other; but before they can get married, an old boyfriend of Diane returns with his own dose of love potion number 8. Paul's only hope is to get something even more powerful. Love Potion #9
is genuinely clever and sweet, and both Donovan and Bullock work well with the low-key but effective humor of the movie's well-written script. It's a tribute to her talent and her girl-next-door looks that Bullock, unlike most pretty stars dressing down, is effective as both a lovelorn loser and the confident glamour-girl she becomes. Altogether, a charming and enjoyable film. --Bret Fetzer