Movie Review by Kris Griffiths
Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling
Director: Peter Chelsom
Following a lengthy list of production problems, TOWN AND COUNTRY finally hits the big screen two years after it was first supposed to be released. After all those re-writes and re-shoots, and a bloated $100 million budget, was the wait worth it? Well, it turns out to be one of those moral message comedies that are not particularly funny, just mildly amusing. Very mildly. In a couple of places.
The film revolves around the adulterous antics of wealthy architect Porter Stoddard (Warren Beatty) who has his midlife crisis at the same time as his best mate Griffin (Gary Shandling). But whereas Griffin has an affair with a man, Porter suddenly finds himself attracting a series of women half his age and a hundred times more attractive than his wife Ellie (Diane Keaton). First up is a stunning cellist (Natassja Kinski) who catches his eye as he consoles his distraught buddy over dinner. Not content with banging a sexy, single girl with a resounding box between her legs, Porter then moves on to Griffin’s jilted wife Mona (Goldie Hawn) whilst consoling her over losing Griffin. When Ellie finds out about the cellist, Porter runs away with fellow infidel Griffin for a male-bonding holiday. Rather than wallowing there in shame and guilt, he ends up in bed with the nice but nuts Eugenie (Andy Macdowell) and also meets a pretty young checkout girl (Jenna Elfman). And then after all this shameless philandering he eventually realises that he really loves his wife Ellie and decides to go back to her. Yawn. Not before some ‘dramatic’ divorce proceedings scenes and the ‘hilarious’ moment when Griffin tells a packed awards ceremony that he is gay. Yawn.
Throughout this well-casted comedy I laughed a total of four times: when Porter has a midnight snack in his kitchen to the sounds of his teenage kids loudly fornicating in their neighbouring bedrooms; when he dresses up in a polar bear costume and does a stupid dance at a fancy-dress party; when I saw Eugenie’s mad mum whizzing around in an electric wheelchair screaming smutty abuse at her husband (Charlton Heston); and when I saw old Charlton pull the most unbecomingly deranged face I’ve ever seen. The rest is the stuff of cliched slapstick farce, which is even less funny when juxtaposed with scenes of drama and projected morality. When Porter reels off his sad speech of repentance at the film’s end, it is one of a few completely random points where a humourless voice-over suddenly invades all the hilarity (Beatty was apparently told to add them after the film was completed). This encapsulates the film’s problem. How are we supposed to sympathise with Beatty’s character? Are we supposed to at all? Despite his shameful adulterous behaviour Porter comes across as a sort of cute character and has a silly befuddled look about him throughout the film. All I kept seeing in his face was Frank Drebin from the NAKED GUN. As a conclusion, Drebin and drama just does not mix.