Three to Tango

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Three to Tango
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Damon Santostefano
Written by Rodney Patrick Vaccaro
Aline Brosh McKenna
Produced byJeffrey Silver
Bettina Sofia Viviano
CinematographyWalt Lloyd
Edited by Stephen Semel
Music by Graeme Revell
Distributed by Warner Bros. (United States)
Roadshow Entertainment (Australia & New Zealand) [1]
Release date
  • 22 October 1999 (1999-10-22)
Running time
98 minutes
United States
Budget$20 million
Box office$10.6 million [2]

Three to Tango is a 1999 romantic comedy film directed by Damon Santostefano, written by Rodney Patrick Vaccaro and Aline Brosh McKenna, and starring Matthew Perry, Neve Campbell, Dylan McDermott and Oliver Platt.



Architects Oscar Novak (Perry) and Peter Steinberg (Platt) have just landed a career-making opportunity to design of a multimillion-dollar cultural center for wealthy businessman Charles Newman (McDermott). In a ploy for publicity, Newman has pitched Oscar and Peter in a neck-and-neck competition with their archrivals and former colleagues, the hugely successful Decker and Strauss (Bob Balaban and John C. McGinley). When Newman meets Oscar and Peter, he assumes that they are lovers, even though Oscar is straight. (Peter is in fact gay, but his relationship with Oscar is strictly platonic.) Under the mistaken impression that Oscar is gay, he asks Oscar to keep an eye on his mistress Amy (Campbell) and make sure that she does not talk to his wife Olivia (Kelly Rowan). Oscar falls for Amy virtually on sight, but she also thinks he is gay. He is forced to maintain the charade to avoid getting into trouble with Newman, and losing the commission.

Matters become complicated when a news article about Oscar and Peter's supposed relationship is published in a newspaper, leaving Oscar in the increasingly frustrating position of having to fend off advances from various gay men while convincing his friends and family that he is simply pretending to be gay. Amy even sets him up on a date with her ex-boyfriend, football player Kevin Cartwright (Cylk Cozart), but Oscar manages to defuse the situation by saying that he is in love with someone else. Despite the embarrassing misconceptions, Oscar forms a close bond with Amy as they continue to spend time together, to the extent that Amy moves in with him after she is kicked out of her apartment. At the final presentation for the cultural center, Oscar and Peter receive the commission, but Oscar is simultaneously told that he has won the award for Gay Professional Man of the Year, with Newman deciding that he will reveal his decision after the ceremony.

After an awkward meeting between Amy and Olivia at the party, she and Oscar go to a bar, Amy uncomfortable after meeting Olivia in person for the first time. Amy leaves in frustration after she nearly kisses him, prompting a brief argument between her and Oscar in which Oscar states that her relationship with Newman has no future; Amy and Newman have never fought only because Newman doesn't care enough about Amy to fight with her, but Amy counters that Oscar is hardly in a position to criticise her love life when he hasn't been on a date since they met. After spending the day alone, Oscar attends the award ceremony for Gay Professional Man of the Year. Although he initially continues his charade, while looking out at the people before him, he instead makes a passionate speech about how he admires all the men and women here who were able to tell the truth to their families about who they are, ending the speech by "coming out of the closet" as he admits that he is straight and in love with Amy. As he is applauded for having the courage to admit the truth, he runs after Amy, only for her to punch both him and Newman and storming out. Peter then awkwardly accepts the prize that comes with the award: a date with Kevin. However, as Oscar sits in a restaurant where he and Amy ate together on the night they met, Amy comes to see him. After confirming that there are no other lies and he genuinely regrets the deception, she says that she loves him too, and they kiss.

In a post-credit scene, Olivia convinces Newman to go with Oscar and Peter's design, revealing that she knew about him and Amy and informing him bluntly that Oscar and Peter did the better job.



Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 29% based on 63 reviews. The site's consensus states: "A mediocre episode of Friends has more humor and less offensive gay jokes." [3] Roger Ebert praised Neve Campbell's appeal but gave the film one star, saying it had "an Idiot Plot, in which no one ever says what obviously must be said to clear up the confusion." [4] Writing for The New York Times , Stephen Holden criticized the film for its predictability and use of gay clichés. "In trying to be both bold and nonthreatening, the movie ends up seeming tame and mildly offensive." [5]

The film fared poorly with audiences as well as critics. Three to Tango opened at #8 at the box office, bringing in only $4,406,135 on its opening weekend, and earning only $10,570,375 overall against a budget of $20 million. [2]

Filming locations

Although Three to Tango is set in Chicago, it was filmed in Toronto, Ontario. [4]


Three to Tango: Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Graeme Revell, Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Atomic Fireballs, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Flying Neutrinos, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Royal Crown Review, Indigo Swing, Mighty Blue Kings, The Outsiders, Dr. John, Shemekia Copeland, Duncan Sheik
Released26 October 1999
Genre Pop/Rock
Length46:17 minutes
Label Atlantic
Producer Brad Benedict
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic [6] Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg

A soundtrack of music "from and inspired by" Three to Tango was released by Atlantic Records on 26 October 1999. It featured new music by the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and Mighty Blue Kings, as well as previously released tracks by Squirrel Nut Zippers, Royal Crown Revue, and The Atomic Fireballs. [7]

No.TitleWriter(s)Recording artist(s)Length
1."Jumpin' East Of Java" Brian Setzer Brian Setzer Orchestra 2:35
2."Swing Sweet Pussycat"John Bunkley The Atomic Fireballs 3:09
3."Maddest Kind of Love"Scotty Morris Big Bad Voodoo Daddy 5:04
4."Mr. Zoot Suit"Mark Cally The Flying Neutrinos 2:38
5."Here Comes the Snake" Steve Perry Cherry Poppin' Daddies 2:55
6."Trou Macacq" Tom Maxwell Squirrel Nut Zippers 3:16
7."Datin' With No Dough"Eddie Nichols / Bill Ungerman Royal Crown Revue 2:34
8."Violent Love" Willie Dixon Indigo Swing2:11
9."Go Tell the Preacher"Ross Bon The Mighty Blue Kings 2:52
10."Lint" The Outsiders3:31
11."Goin' Out of My Head"Teddy Randazzo / Bob Weinstein Dr. John 3:53
12."Salt in My Woulds"Alan Mirikitani / Dennis Walker Shemekia Copeland 4:10
13."That Says It All" Duncan Sheik Duncan Sheik 4:13
14."Let's Get Outta Here" Graeme Revell Graeme Revell 3:16
Total length:46:17

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  2. 1 2 "Three to Tango at Box Office Mojo" . Retrieved 29 September 2010.
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  4. 1 2 "Three to Tango". 22 October 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  5. Holden, Stephen (22 October 2018). "FILM REVIEW; He's Not Gay but Pretends to Be. Chaos Ensues". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  6. "Three to Tango: Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture". . Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  7. "Three to Tango SOUNDTRACK" . Retrieved 29 November 2018.