by Greg Muskewitz
It's been something like a year-and-a-half plus or minus several months when "Town & Country" had originally been set to be released. It's always a bad sign when movies get shelved like that, and I can't tell you I heard what the problem with this one was, but it might as well have gone unreleased. The one thing I did hear was that the farcical comedy cost an estimated $90 million, awfully steep considering that there were no special effects and that none of the talented cast particularly pulls in that much of a paycheck, but I can guarantee it will get nowhere near that in returns.The grand scheme of "Town & Country" follows the aging Warren Beatty as he transcends into infidelity from his 25-year marriage with Diane Keaton, and the high-jinx and gag-ladden effects that come of it. The geezer tells us (in one of only three brief voiceovers employed, likely only used because of the mincing of the story around it) that it was his first time, but he also tells us that he promises not to do it again, only to break the promise. Take his word or not, it matters very little. (Not just the use of narration in the context of the movie uncomfortably feels like it had been edited up into something different, but the whole movie feels as though it were subjected to a woodchipper. I have a feeling that it was highly altered during the time of completion until the release now.)
First it's with cellist Nastassja Kinski, the recent divorcée Goldie Hawn (friend of both, divorced from Gary Shandling), Andie MacDowell (they meet on a flight, as she recognizes him from a magazine cover: "Hi, I'm a...I'm a..."/"An architect?"/"Yes, an architect"/"I like fucking architects"), spoiled daughter of a shot-gun totting Charlton Heston, and lastly Jenna Elfman, as a Marilyn Monroe to his Polar Bear.
A lot of this is nothing more than plain, boring and uneventful physical schtick and coincidence (like all of the women happening to be in the same bathroom at the same time) and goes for the most part without laughs. Maybe the biggest highlight of the movie Beatty trotting around in the bear costume, or when all the males of his high-rise Manhattan apartment (his son, his daughter's Middle Eastern boyfriend, the maid's heathen fiancée) save for the man of the apartment himself, hears everyone elses' coital procession, and then is joined by them, one-by-one for after-sex munchies and drinks. Beyond that, it is a bunch of coincidental idiocracy, which plays like a comedic version of "Eyes Wide Shut," with Beatty in the Tom Cruise role, but instead taking all of the opportunities offered.
The cast is a good assemblage, but they are completely wasted and misused. Neither Beatty nor Shandling are honed for their comedic skills, while the majority of the women slip into the cracks, like Kinski, MacDowell, Elfman, the eye-catching Tricia Vessey, and others like teenage-heartthrob Josh Hartnett. Hawn is given some good material and acts well with it, but it plays deeply into the stereotype of the rest of the women in the movie. Keaton on the other hand, tends not to acts at all, or at least not any different since the same performance she has given in most cases from her Woody Allen days. There really is no variety when it comes to her.
Intended or not, the actor-strong ensemble directed by Peter Chelsom is extremely misogynistic; though Beatty's philanderer may be made to come off as a bit of a jester, all of the female caricatures are much more artificially carved and embellished, to a mighty stupefying angle. They all want one thing from him, and I don't think it's for him to "use your big, swinging cock to stir the drink" as MacDowell's paraplegic mother puts it. So while every young to middle-aged woman is helplessly in heat for him, as he puts it, he just wants "to get away from you godforsaken women." The only thing missing at the resolution/reunion at the end was Nicole Kidman's closing statement from "Eyes Wide Shut," of "Let's fuck."Final Verdict: D-.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=557&reviewer=172
originally posted: 05/01/01 13:35:53