I'm With Her: Bob D'Amico
Carina Chocano
September 26, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

I’m With Her is the story of high school English teacher Patrick Owen (David Sutcliffe), an unshaven, salt-of-the-earth type, who wins the heart of actress Alex Young (Teri Polo), a biggest-star-on-earth type. Because he is a mensch and not into the whole Hollywood thing, Patrick enters Alex’s world kicking and screaming Balzac and Shakespeare the whole way. (She, of course, quotes Patrick Swayze.) It’s a zeitgeisty comedy about an underrepresented — but hot — growing minority: nobody husbands of movie-star wives.

Sadly, for the cynics among us, Patrick is no Cris Judd, Danny Moder, or, alas, Larry Fortensky. He’s more like a slightly Cinderfellified alter ego of successful television producer Chris Henchy (”Spin City,” ”Life With Bonnie”), who based the show on his own relationship with wife Brooke Shields. And Alex, analogously is no J. Lo, Julia, or Liz. Hell, as Polo plays her, she’s not even as interesting as Brooke Shields. If only Henchy were to have some fun at his own expense, we might see Alex demanding her hotel room be remodeled, or Patrick wearing a wife beater and doubling his negatives.

In classic sitcom tradition, any diva qualities Alex might possess have been funneled into her sister, Cheri Baldzikowski (Rhea Seehorn), a ”civilian” who disapproves of Patrick. Likewise, Patrick displays no unseemly, uh, star-fornicating tendencies whatsoever. These have been bestowed upon his wisecracking substitute-teacher sidekick, Stevie (Danny Comden).

The show makes a few jokes at its characters’ expense, but they tend to be as gentle as baby clover — much like the love sprouting between Patrick and Alex. (In a world of movie sets, rehab facilities, and gyms, the couple meets — of all places — at a coffee shop. In real life, Henchy and Shields met on the Warner Bros. lot and bonded over her freshly rescued dog. On the show, Alex’s dog bonds with Patrick’s butt when he bends over.) Patrick cringes at a cheesy line Alex’s costar feeds her on TV, and cracks, ”Who writes this crap?” Later, after he sends her away then changes his mind, he uses the line himself. It’s like art imitating life imitating ”Notting Hill.”

So far, ”I’m With Her” delivers more romance than comedy, but that could change if the characters were to remove their halos. In the meantime, for true celebrity-marriage hilarity, check out MTV’s ”Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica.” It’s chicken by the sea!

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