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by Jack Sommersby

"A Comic Version of 'Cruising'"
2 stars

More a "concept movie" than an organically-realized movie, it plays better than it has any right to.

The homosexual cop-buddy picture Partners doesn't have a strong-enough mystery plot, and it really isn't funny enough to recommend, but at least it's intentionally amusing some of the time where William Friedkin's abominable homosexual thriller Cruising was unintentionally laughable most of the time. There's a killer plaguing a Los Angeles gay community, with the slain victim a model for a men's nude magazine, and because he was the son of the city newspaper's owner who's written an editorial accusing the police of not doing enough to solve the case, two cops who couldn't be more diametric are ordered to go undercover as a gay couple to ferret out the killer. One is the impossibly-handsome homicide detective Sergeant Benson (Ryan O'Neal), the very definition of a ladies man, and the other meek homosexual Kirwin (John Hurt) of the department's Records section; both balk at the assignment (Benson, because he's uncomfortable around gays; Kirwin, feeling his sexuality is being exploited), but threatened with Skid Row patrol duty they reluctantly agree. With Benson clad in black-leather jacket/red headband and Kirwin in pink attire (and driving a pink VW, no less), they move into an apartment and hit the social scene, mingling in restaurants and bars trying to pick up information on the dead man's contacts; they soon discover that another gay man who modeled for the same magazine was slain six months earlier, and both received strange phone calls by a hoarse-voiced person the night of the murders for a rendezvous. Over the next few days Benson finds himself becoming more gay-tolerant while Kirwin loosens up and takes pride in the daily domestic duties of ironing and cooking for a roommate for the first time. In the movie's best moment, Benson gives Kirwin a quick peck on the cheek on his way out the door without thinking about it, and it isn't until he's waiting for the elevator that he's floored by what he's done. There's also an affecting scene where both men and another gay man are harassed and humiliated by some homophobic cops. But certain aspects are fuzzy. Benson finding himself impotent with a woman jogger he's picked up and taken to bed in her apartment suggests what, exactly? That he's becoming attracted to gays? It's not followed through on. An attractive woman photographer Benson starts an affair with (so much for the impotency) apparently seduced the two male models, but why should they have been seduced? Benson is heterosexual, but they weren't. And the last section suffers from opaque plottiness, and neither the writer, Francis Veber (author of the successful La cage aux Folles), nor the director, James Burrows (coming from a mostly TV background), are persuasive enough in making us care how it all turns out. So despite the aforementioned attributes and O'Neal's terrific star performance, Partners only half-succeeds.

The DVD sports a non-anamorphic transfer that isn't exactly worth bragging about. No special features aside from a theatrical trailer.

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originally posted: 08/07/13 22:56:04
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User Comments

11/16/09 mr.mike Recall it as being predictable and lame. Hurt is good, however. 2 stars
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  30-Apr-1982 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jul-2008


  22-Oct-1982 (M)

Directed by
  James Burrows

Written by
  Francis Veber

  Ryan O'Neal
  John Hurt
  Kenneth McMillan
  Robyn Douglas
  Jay Robinson

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