The film's biggest weakness is also its greatest strength -- character development is subordinated to snappy dialogue. The constant quipping makes us laugh but prevents us from getting too close to any of Frankel's characters. Sexy Sarah Jessica Parker's spitfire Gwyn is Exhibit A. Parker is a first-rate comedian. But her character's anxiety is less than convincing because Parker, despite her game attempts to conceal the fact for most of this film, is a fetching sight: blue eyes to rival Newman's own, dazzling gilded locks, treacherous curves. It's like watching Naomi Campbell freak out over a blemish. Most of us would love to have such problems. You pull for the losers Woody Allen plays at least partly because he's such a homely guy. With a face like that he better make people laugh. (Before all you model apologists start firing off angry letters, let me assure you that this is not to suggest that beautiful people can't obsess over their love lives just like the rest of us -- merely that it's harder to sympathize with them when they do. Especially in movies.)
Parker's acting ability goes a long way toward negating her attractiveness, just as Banderas is skilled enough to pull off the role of nursing-home mambo king. When Gwyn's fiance stresses the need to compromise and makes the fatal mistake of asking "Who doesn't?" Parker retorts, "Arabs and Republicans." Her voice is cocky enough to give the line bite, but also vulnerable enough to betray the fear she is attempting to mask. It's a balancing act she sustains throughout the film, being hip and quick and funny enough to make us overlook her obvious physical charms. How audiences react to her performance will be the biggest single factor in determining whether Miami Rhapsody soars or is forgotten quicker than last year's tourism slogan. I say see it like a native, and let the festival begin.