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.
The screenplay by John Kostmayer is loosely based on an attempted murder that happened in 1983, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Frances Toto repeatedly tried to kill her husband, Anthony. She spent four years in prison for attempted murder and was released in 1988.
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.
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 in order to put an end to his infidelity. They also hire two incompetent, perpetually stoned hit-men, cousins Harlan and Marlon James (William Hurt and Keanu Reeves).
To her surprise, Joey proves impossible to kill. Even though Rosalie poisons Joey with sleeping pills, he simply gets a stomach cramp, and dismisses it as a virus. When Marlon's cowardice stops him from being present at Joey's murder, Harlan shoots Joey, only wounding him behind the ear. Eventually a convict at the local commissary reveals their plan, and when the police arrive they find the wounded Joey in some pain. Joey is taken to the hospital, and Rosalie, her mother, Devo, and the James cousins are arrested. Recognizing the errors in 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 Jameses, with whom he makes peace. After meeting Rosalie again, he asks her to take him back, but still offended, she runs out. Joey manages to catch 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.
The film earned $4 million on its opening weekend and grossed over $16 million in North America.
I Love You to Death received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 56% based on reviews from 18 critics. On Metacritic, the film holds a 45 out of 100 rating based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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".
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.