DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
TOWN & COUNTRY (director: Peter Chelsom; screenwriters: Michael Laughlin/Buck Henry; cinematographer: William A. Fraker; editors: David Moritz/Claire Simpson; cast: Warren Beatty (Porter), Diane Keaton (Ellie), Andie MacDowell (Eugenie), Garry Shandling (Griffin), Jenna Elfman (Auburn), Nastassja Kinski (Alex), Goldie Hawn (Mona), Charlton Heston (Eugenie's father), Marian Seldes (Eugenie's mother), Josh Hartnett (Tom), Tricia Vessey (Alice); Runtime: 102; New Line Cinema; 2001)

 
"The stars play the same tired characters they have made a grand living off for too many years. "

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A messy screwball comedy about adultery. The comedy was flat, the sex jokes crude, the compromising situations were forced, the plot incoherent, the yuppie characters unappealing, and the sight gags didn't fit the plot lines. The only thing appealing, were its lovely location shots of NYC on Fifth Avenue, the Hamptons, Mississippi, and Sun Valley. It's a film that got the costumes, home furnishings, and scenery right, but failed in almost everything else.

Warren Beatty stars as Porter Stoddard, a happily married New York architect of 25 years wondering whether he should confess to his devoted and equally successful designer wife, Ellie (Keaton), about his recent affair with a cellist (Nastassja Kinski).

What causes him to pause about telling her about this affair is that his best friends, Griffin (Garry Shandling) and Mona (Goldie Hawn), have split because of Griffin's affair with a redhead. But what Mona doesn't realize, is that her husband's lover is really a man in disguise.

While Porter is mulling over what to do, temptations come his way in bunches. This results in unwise flings with a world-wide yuppie traveler (Andie MacDowell), a good-hearted and daffy sporting goods clerk from Sun Valley (Jenna Elfman), and a roll in the sack with his childhood friend Mona.

The only funny scene comes by way of a superfluous character, Marian Seldes. She plays the mother to MacDowell, and gets around in a motorized wheelchair; she can't stop from cussing and knocking over furniture because she is sexually frustrated by the impotency of her wealthy, heavily armed, wannabe Hemingway macho, crackpot husband (Heston).

This is a movie about shallow materialists with too much time on their hand. The stars play the same tired characters they have made a grand living off for too many years (especially, Beatty as the aging stud and Hawn with her innocent but sad-eyed look). In this film their personas can't help them get out of this bad comedy situation. The film is just one big loose end that can't be tied up. A lot of the blame for this mess must go to screenwriters Michael Laughlin and Buck Henry, and to director Peter Chelsom for his uninspiring presentation.

REVIEWED ON 5/5/2001     GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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