Movie Review


A Pyromaniac's Love Story

reviewed by Dr. Barbara Mack Ph.D.


Self-Help Parent Meter (Scale based on PG-13 films)
0 = Little or none      5 = Great amount or highly

Sex: (0)
Profanity: (2)
Violence: (3)
Fright: (0)


"A Pyromaniac's Love Story" (PG) should not have earned it's PG rating. Although meant to be a romantic comedy, the film's theme makes it inappropriate for children and adolescents. Sergio Cuccio (John Leguizamo) is happy with his job in Mr. Linzer's (Armin Mueller-Stahl) bakery, until Hattie (Sadie Frost) tells Sergio that he needs to make more money. Since Sergio is quite taken with Hattie, he decides to ask for a raise. Before he can ask, Mr. Linzer tells Sergio that the bakery is failing. The distraught, hardworking Mr. Linzer sees only one way out-burn the bakery and get the insurance money.

Sergio's life gets more complicated when an attractive young woman, Stephanie (Erika Eleniak), walks into the bakery and kisses him. In a fit of jealousy, her crazy boyfriend Garet Lumpke (William Baldwin) sets fire to the bakery. Garet's rich father offers Sergio $25,000 if he will tell the police that he committed the arson. Although hesitant at first, Mr. Lumpke convinces Sergio by saying, "If she (Hattie) finds out that you torched that place for her, she will fall in place like a sack of rose petals."

Sergio confesses. Mr. Linzer confesses to protect Sergio. Mrs. Linzer (Joan Plowright) confesses to protect Mr. Linzer. Finally, Garet confesses. Stephanie is thrilled to hear that Garet loves her so much that he started the fire for her and is willing to go to jail for it.

The message in this movie is that arson can turn out just fine. It saves the bakery from financial ruin and brings love into three couples' lives. The film equates arson with passion and love. It is ironic that in a film released at the time of the bombing tragedy in Oklahoma, a character says, "to win my love, he must at least blow something up." There are too many bombings and fires in today's movies.

"A Pyromaniac's Love Story" is not benign because it is a comedy. In fact, the absence of negative consequences from the fire gives the impression that it's not so bad. There are no deaths and no wounded. Even the imprisoned Garet feels good about the result of the fire--Stephanie loves him. The act of arson produces a happy ending for all the couples. Everyone wins, except the insurance company. This is certainly not the message that we want our children and adolescents to hear. In this film, the only thing that deserved to be burned was the script.


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