thatcow

Didn't Care & Didn't Laugh Much

A set of upper crust New Yorkers bumble about their infidelities in this attempt at a farcical society romp.

We start with architect Porter (Warren Beatty) in bed, watching a naked woman (Nastassja Kinski) play the cello. The woman is not his wife.

And then we are introduced to the characters. Beatty is married to Ellie (Diane Keaton) (these are the Stoddards). And their good friends Griffin (Gary Shandling) and Mona (Goldie Hawn) are married to each other (and they are the Millers). The Stoddards have a couple kids, household staff in their different places, and these folks have attracted an unusual set of romantic interests, most of which don't seem to speak English.

From there, the Millers split up because of Griffin's tryst with a redhead - who's really a man, but they have him sit on that secret for way too long. Porter comforts Mona and then they end up in bed. Then Ellie finds out about a certain Cellist, and everybody's unhappy - or at least supposed to seem like it. We go on a virtual tour of every abode these rich people own, spending the most time at a rundown shack in Sun Valley, where Griffin gets Porter to come out to get away from things. While in Sun Valley, Porter slums it with local girl Jenna Elfman while in a polar bear suit. He also has a run-in with architect-fetishist Andie MacDowell - whose father, Charlton Heston, has a jealous, vengeful streak.

For all its protestations of not trying things up in a bow, the movie does eventually tie things up in a not so elegant but quite convenient little bow. They really had to end the movie somehow, I suppose, but while the plotlines have been resolved, the dues have not been paid.

The elements of farce in this film do not work. The timing is off, the scenes often seem played half the way toward serious drama, and only half the gags are remotely funny. Almost every punch is pulled. Only Chalton Heston's supporting character really serves its intended purpose, and that comes too late and is too thin to save the picture.

I think the blame has to be put on the writing. Many of the individual lines are fine, and are delivered well by the actors - with this high profile a cast, they have a certain duty to deliver. The scenes are stilted, don't flow into each other, and nothing builds. I didn't get around to liking Warren Beatty's character until well past the halfway point. We're simply never given any hint of his humanity for so, so long.

It's not a secret that Town & Country was a troubled production, beset by continual rewrites. I'd love to see the original shooting script, to get a sense what they were sacrificing, and what it was replaced with. I find it hard to believe they started with something worse than they finished with.

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