Tess Carlisle (Shirley MacLaine) is the widow of a former president of the United States who has become a national treasure. Doug Chesnic (Nicolas Cage) is the secret security agent that is hired to ensure that she stays safe and out of trouble. Doug, accustomed to assignments that involve danger and excitement, dreads his mundane task and he finds Tess patronising, eccentric, rude, demanding and acerbic. Typically within the odd-couple formula, these two adversaries have to reach a truce, which for Doug means trying to maintain his exacting standards despite the unpredictable nature of Tess’ whims. An attempt on Tess’ life and a mystery illness provide narrative developments, but it is mostly the shenanigans and intricacies of the secret service operatives that keep the film interesting. “Guarding Tess” drifts toward melodrama and tends to exude a cloying sentimentality, but it also contains a certain charm due to the performances of Cage and MacLaine. Directed by Hugh Wilson (The First wives club, Dudley do right).
Nancy Graham Tanen