I Love You to Death

I Love You to Death is a 1990 American black comedy film directed by Lawrence Kasdan and starring an ensemble cast featuring Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman, Joan Plowright, River Phoenix, William Hurt, and Keanu Reeves.

I Love You to Death
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLawrence Kasdan
Produced byJeffrey Lurie
Written byKos Kostmayer
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyOwen Roizman
Edited byAnne V. Coates
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
  • April 6, 1990 (1990-04-06)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • Italian
  • Serbo-Croatian
Box office$16.2 million[2]

The screenplay by John Kostmayer[3] is loosely based on an attempted murder that happened in 1983, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Frances Toto repeatedly tried to kill her husband, Anthony.[4] She spent four years in prison for attempted murder and was released in 1988.[4]


Joey Boca (Kevin Kline) is the owner of a pizza parlor located in Tacoma, Washington, and has been married to Rosalie (Tracey Ullman) for years. Their marriage seems a typical one until Rosalie discovers in the public library that Joey is a womanizer and has been cheating on her for a long time, and with multiple women.

Rosalie does not want to allow Joey the pleasure of having every woman he wants, so she refuses divorce. Taking extreme measures, she enlists the help of her mother (Joan Plowright), and her young co-worker Devo (River Phoenix), who's secretly in love with her, to kill Joey to end his infidelity. They also hire two incompetent, perpetually stoned men, cousins Harlan and Marlon James (William Hurt and Keanu Reeves).

To her surprise, Joey proves impossible to kill. Even though Rosalie heavily doses Joey with sleeping pills, he simply gets a stomach cramp, and dismisses it as a virus. They then ask Devo to come over and shoot Joey, but Devo looks away and only ends up wounding Joey behind the ear. When Marlon's cowardice stops him from being present at Joey's murder, Harlan shoots Joey through the chest, missing the intended target (the heart).

Eventually a convict at the local commissary reveals their plan, and when the police arrive they find the wounded Joey in some pain. He is taken to the hospital, and Rosalie, her mother, Devo, and the James cousins are arrested. Seeing the error of his ways and at his mother's behest, Joey refuses to press charges and bails everyone out of jail. As he waits for Rosalie with flowers and a box of chocolates, he meets the James cousins and makes peace. Seeing Rosalie again, he asks her to take him back, but still offended, she runs out. Joey catches her and in the janitors' closet they reveal their love with some intimacy, much to Devo's dismay and the surprise of Rosalie's mother.



Box officeEdit

The film earned $4 million on its opening weekend and grossed over $16 million in North America.[2][5]

Critical responseEdit

I Love You to Death received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 56% based on reviews from 25 critics.[6] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100 based on reviews from 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade C on scale of A to F.[8]

Jonathan Rosenbaum, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, described the film as a "fair-to-middling black comedy" and that "although the pacing is sluggish in spots, people with a taste for acting as impersonation will enjoy some of the scenery chewing—especially by Plowright, Kline, and Hurt".[9]

Roger Ebert describes the film as "an actor's dream" but isn't quite so sure it is a dream film for an audience. He praises Ullman for her performance, noting it is all the more effective against the overtly comic performance of Kline. Ebert remarks "William Hurt could have walked through the role of the spaced-out hit man, but takes the time to make the character believable and even, in a bleary way, complex". Ebert suggests Kasdan was attracted to the script because it seems almost impossible to direct, and although he is not sure it succeeds, it is certainly not boring.[10]


  1. ^ "I LOVE YOU TO DEATH (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 14, 1990. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "I Love You to Death (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  3. ^ "Screenplays". KosKostmayer.com. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Allentown Journal; True Love, True Life, And Truly Bizarre - New York Times". Nytimes.com. April 25, 1990. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  5. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (April 10, 1990). "'Turtles' Take: $50.9 Million in Two Weeks : Box office: The kids movie featuring the wise-cracking quartet of terrapins is close to setting a record for an independent film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  6. ^ "I Love You to Death". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  7. ^ "I Love You to Death". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  8. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  9. ^ Jonathan Rosenbaum. "I Love You to Death". Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago Reader). Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  10. ^ "I Love You to Death Movie Review (1990)". Chicago Sun-Times. April 6, 1990. Retrieved February 15, 2016.

External linksEdit