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The Favor

released in 1992, produced in 1989 (?)

Written by Joann McGibbon and Sara Parriott

Directed and produced by Donald Petrie

Starring : Harley Jane Kozak, Elizabeth McGovern, Brad Pitt,  Ken Wahl, Larry Miller, and of course.........

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Available for sale at

and even at your local Wal-Mart for $6.99!

Not available on DVD


The problem begins with a notice of a high school reunion.  It prompts suburban wife and mom, Kathy Whiting, to think about her wilder, more passionate days as a 16 year old cheerleader in the arms of her equally passionate quarterback boyfriend, Tommy.   The film's opening credits roll with a hilarious dream sequence with Kathy as a nubile woman in the arms of that high school Romeo, interspersed with snippets of reality from her youngest daughter who wants Mommy to explain if dead people make water.

To pursue her fantasy, Kathy enlists her best friend Emily (Elizabeth McGovern) to look up Tommy (Ken Wahl) when she goes to Denver to check out a gallery for an art show (thus, the "favor".)  When Emily returns, she is so overwhelmed with passion about the encounter with the old beau that it makes Kathy turn green with envy, and she spends the rest of the movie trying to recapture that old feeling which gets them both in trouble.  But Emily is really in love with Elliott Fowler (Brad Pitt), a younger man and talented artist who is very nervous about commitment.  

Throw into the mix Kathy's paranoid mathematics professor husband (played with wacky sincerity by our man Bill) and his even nuttier colleague, Joe Dubin, who fuels poor Peter's growing suspicions about his wife and the handsome young Elliot, and you have a recipe for marvelous slapstick.  Check out the "car chase" as Peter and Prof. Joe follow Kathy  driving  her station wagon all over town.

The craziness comes to a head in Denver as the four major players gather at Tommy's rustic cabin.  But like all good romantic comedies, the true lovers match up, kiss and all's well that ends well.

There are terrific moments of outstanding comedy:  Kathy does a seductive dance wearing baby doll pajamas while Peter makes a sandwich, explains fractural geometry and reversing magnetic fields, and feeds the dog, all while not missing a beat.   Bill does an excellent job with that scene, convincingly playing the out-there-without-a-clue mathematician.  Kathy and Emily attend a childbirth class for "odd couples" (get a load of Holland Taylor as the New Age-y instructor.)   Brad Pitt is actually enjoyable in the role of the out-of-his-league artist and boyfriend.  Kathy's fantasy sequences are at times hysterical (can all of us put ourselves on that butcher block??)  It gives the black & red plaid flannel shirt a whole new meaning.

Pullman is very convincing as the faithful, but somewhat distracted husband dad and shows his forgiving side as he tries to understand Kathy’s feelings.   He proves to be an adept comedic straightman with exquisite timing.

In the tradition of the wonderful screwball romantic comedies, "The Favor" is a favorite, all right.   One of  Juanita's (and dlrs's)  favorite Bill movies.  Rated R for bad words (just a few) and adult situations that you may not want to show the kiddies.

summary & comments by Juanita and dlrs


Photographs from "The Favor"

Wrestling with the girls on a lazy Saturday morning

Wrestling with the girls on a lazy Saturday morning.   Peter does not know what kind of dream his wife has just had.

The Race

Peter & Kathy fight for control of the most important room in the house.

The happy parents

How about a little kiss? (How can you resist?)

Snuggling down

Peter & Kathy snuggle after she blew up a room full of balloons (so, where were you, Dad?)

The negotiation

So, do you ?   Nah, what about tomorrow?  Nah, what about Tueday?  Yeah, Tuesday sounds good.

Dad the master griller

Peter & Eliot discuss the parenting group members.  They decide belonging to a satanic cult would be easier on the kids.

Discussing Eliot's hasty retreat

Peter, Kathy, & Emily at the party

Sandwich seduction

Feeling just a wee bit naughty, Kathy attempts to distract Peter's attentions away from his mission to make the perfect sandwich.

It's when they're unstable...

However, Peter is completely absorbed in those unstable elements.  (Only Bill can make fractal geometry sexy.)

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Peter is caught off guard when told Dennis Hopper will be at Eliot's gallery opening.


Is it Dennis....or is that my wife laying her hand on that good lookin' Eliot's hand?

What is Love?

Peter confronts Kathy about her erratic behavior towards him during the past few weeks.  (Peter, it's not about that fight she had with Emily.)

Messing with Peter's mind

The crazed math professor messes with Peter's mind about Kathy's fidelity.


The guys follow Kathy across town in an attempt to catch her in a fling with Eliot.


Oh wow!

Oh wow!  There just might be something to this affair with Eliot.  Peter discovers Kathy's deception.


Peter follows Kathy

Peter confronts Eliot in the swanky hotel in Denver.  Kathy's bag is in his room.  Uh-oh.



Peter is definitely in no mood to be jerked around.  Where is my wife?

I want you

During one of Kathy's fantasies, she sees Peter in that manly buffalo plaid shirt.

This is my wife

Peter finally catches up with Kathy after a hilarious turn of events.  "This is my wife.  Get out of your house."


Peter confronts Kathy about her loopy behavior over the past few weeks.  Not the least of which, why is she wearing Emily's clothes in Tommy's house in Denver.

Gonna rock you, Mama

"I'm gonna rock you, mama, like your body got no bones."


All's well that ends well.  Kathy is home, Emily is engaged, and Peter is happily playing the blues.

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