80 posts categorized "Romantic Comedy"

March 22, 2018

THEY ALL LAUGHED

They_all_laughedPeter Bogdanovich’s underseen romantic comedy is an unabashed love letter to 1980 Manhattan. Storyline and plot take a welcome backseat to an attractive if iconic cast portraying characters digging each other and the summer midtown New York vibe they inhabit.

Frank Sinatra’s songs of the era (“New York, New York”) contrast against country music tunes to give the movie a surprisingly effective musical lilt. It is a picture about love and joy that celebrates its own purpose for being. Knowing nods between characters acknowledge the film’s open secret. We’re constantly watching characters admiring or spying on one other from afar.

You can’t help but stumble over yourself as an audience member watching Audrey Hepburn, Ben Gazzara, John Ritter, Colleen Camp, Patti Hansen, Blane Novak, and former Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratten goofing around as the least believable private detectives and subjects you could dream of.  

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There may not be much dramatic conflict, but that’s the point. Colleen Camp’s request from a street vendor for a “very large orange juice” is rewarded with a small half-filled Styrofoam cup. New York culture is crammed into every frame.  

Bogdanovich takes inspiration from Arthur Schnitzler’s often-adapted play “La Ronde” to create this lighthearted comedy of manners that never strays from the shallow end of the screwball comedy pool. Pratfalls come with the territory but “What’s Up Doc” this is not. Still, nobody falls down funnier than John Ritter.

Algonquin

“They All Laughed” is as breezy as its title suggests, but there are so many tiny elements that make you want to revisit the picture. Patti Hansen’s guileless smile, scenes filmed in and around Manhattan’s legendary Algonquin Hotel, and Dorothy Stratten’s stunning charisma contribute to the film’s friendly appeal.

John Ritter

If you’ve ever wanted to take a time machine vacation back to 1980 New York where you can do no wrong, this fun-loving movie makes it possible. We’re all in the mood for love.

Rated PG. 115 mins. (B+) Three stars — out of five / no halves)

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October 09, 2017

ARTHUR

ArthurThis long forgotten romantic comedy represents a perfect storm of comic talents coming together for an enjoyable Manhattan-centric movie that sticks with you. Writer/director Steve Gordon had worked for years as a television comedy writer on series such as “Barney Miller” before crafting the only film he would ever make; Gordon perished a year later from a heart attack.

Dudley Moore had accumulated a career’s worth of success doing British comedy with the “Beyond the Fringe” group in the ‘60s. His comedy partnership with Peter Cook had given way to films (“Bedazzled” and “Monte Carlo or Bust”) and sought-after (nearly banned) comedy albums. Moore’s comic performance in the 1979 Blake Edwards film “10” catapulted him into the Hollywood orbit that led to his role as Arthur Bach in “Arthur,” for which he received an Oscar nomination.

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A romantic comedy about a filthy rich, womanizing drunk might not sound like much on paper, but the dynamic chemistry between Dudley Moore, John Gielgud, and Liza Minnelli gave audiences something to savor. The movie was a box office hit.

A plethora of high-profile Manhattan filming locations (such as Central Park, the Plaza Hotel, and the Carnegie Mansion) create a perfect time capsule of '80s era New York City that the film’s sticky valentine theme song seems to mock. Never mind that “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” was co-written by Burt Bacharach, and won an Oscar for Best Original Song. 

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The narrative is straight as an arrow. Wealthy alcoholic man/boy Arthur Bach can only receive his part of the family fortune if he marries the family’s pre-approved Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry). Arthur doesn’t like anyone, least of all himself, until he runs across Linda Morolla (Liza Minnelli) stealing a tie for her dad’s birthday from Bergdorf Goodman. It’s not so much that Linda stirs a shift to sobriety for Arthur as that we start to see the anti-hero through her eyes. Dudley Moore’s effortless, self-deprecating, knack for slapstick exposes Arthur’s warmth and wit in spite of the chaos he causes.  

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“Arthur” is a much better movie than you’d expect it to be, and certainly far better than the film’s inept trailer portends. Keep an eye out for Geraldine Chaplin's hilarious performance as Arthur's take-no-guff grandmother.

That sappy song ("When you get stuck between moon and New York City") will be wedged in your head for days, but “Arthur” is worth every minute of the torture.

Rated PG. 97 mins. (B) (Three Stars — out of five / no halves)

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March 22, 2017

PUNCH DRUNK LOVE

Punch Drunk LovePaul Thomas Anderson has done the impossible; he has written a romantic leading role for Adam Sandler that functions well on a dramatic level. Sandler’s on-the-spectrum character Barry Egan is a bundle of social anxiety thanks to a long history of abusive treatment by his seven sisters. He has a furious temper thanks to his sisters’ relentless bullying about a childhood episode wherein he broke a plate glass door with a hammer in response to their repeatedly calling him “gayboy.”

Note Anderson’s reference to Lina Wertmuller’s film “Seven Beauties” (1975), which follows the wartime adventures of Pasqualino (Giancarlo Gianini), a henpecked Italian dandy who murders one of his sister’s lover. Audiences can have a field day picking out Anderson’s subtle nods to films by other directors (“Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday,” “The Bandwagon,” and “The Graduate” for example), as well as to his own (“Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia”).

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“Punch Drunk Love” is a squirmy love story about a guy with a good heart in need of romantic rescue. Anderson’s inspired casting of Emily Watson as Sandler’s savior works like a charm for a minimalist character study with a dash of magical realism. It may only be a minor chamber piece, but “Punch Drunk Love” sticks with you.  

Rated R. 95 mins. (B) (Three Stars — out of five / no halves) 

We're drinking BANISH THE DARK for our discussion of Paul Thomas Anderson's PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE with special guest co-host Kenji Mason.

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PUNCH DRUNK LOVE

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