Saturday, January 28, 2017

OVP: Best Friends (1982)

Film: Best Friends (1982)
Stars: Goldie Hawn, Burt Reynolds, Ron Silver, Jessica Tandy, Barnard Hughes, Audra Lindley, Keenan Wynn
Director: Norman Jewison
Oscar History: 1 nomination (Best Original Song-"How Do You Keep the Music Playing?")
Snap Judgment Ranking: 3/5 stars

Admittedly I should probably be getting political today, again (and am on my Twitter page, so follow me if you don't), but my lovely travel plans for the weekend got cancelled and I'm bummed from that, so instead I am spending the weekend cleaning out my DVR in preparation for the 31 Days of Oscar that is about to bestow itself upon us all as a radiant sign of hope (my DVR, TCM, and I have a bit of a war every year over how many movies I can fit on it, and I always lose in not getting as many as I want, but I'm at least giving myself a running chance right now).  Therefore in the next week (and likely over the next month or so), in addition to politics, Oscar articles, and modern movie reviews, expect to see some pretty eclectic films come forward that have been cited by the Academy but may not be as headliner as they once were.  We'll start that list with 1982's Best Friends, starring Goldie Hawn and Burt Reynolds.

(Spoilers Ahead) It's always something I have to acclimate to when I'm revisiting movies from a previous era who were the "movie stars" of the time that didn't necessarily gain immortal status, which is always that way with Reynolds in particular, but it's worth recalling Burt Reynolds at this time was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood (career misfires, then Evening Shade, then Boogie Nights, then more career misfires, would soon follow), as was Hawn, who had enough of a role in my childhood that I don't have to remind myself of her screen presence (she's one of my favorites).  The film shows them as Paula and Richard, two successful screenwriters, friends and lovers, who decide on a whim that it's time they get married.  The film then shows them as they move into a more domestic role while meeting their parents, considerably more eccentric than they are used to in their work-powered Los Angeles existence.

The film is one of those love stories that has aged and dated badly.  The idea of marriage "changing everything" is a bit more alien now when romantic couples regularly live together without getting married, and the idea of going from a career woman to a "wife" is a bit prosaic (you can be both!), but there are cute moments in the film.  The parents (Tandy, Hughes, Lindley, and Wynn) are all caricatures of human beings, but they get some fun lines in (particularly a bawdy Tandy, miles away from what she would soon bring to Miss Daisy), and Hawn and Reynolds are both incredibly watchable movie stars.  It all feels, though, like we're expecting too little from their characters-are they so sheltered that they can't put up with the insanity of their spouse's family for a week?  I think expecting patience out of two grown adults, particularly considering that the in-laws are by-and-large quite kind (if indeed pushy) shows a plot point that I'm missing-were we expected to think that people had less patience in 1982?  Couple that with a late scene that, while at the time probably wasn't nearly as heinous as it is now, but wouldn't fly in a movie in 2017 (Reynolds smashes open a window and pushes Hawn's head through the opening so she can "get some air," a violent scene that wouldn't be fitting today in a scene where they're about to reconcile), made me not like the movie, even if I did in fact enjoy it more in the middle than the script was giving me options to do.

The movie received a sole nomination for Best Song, one of many creations from Alan & Marilyn Bergman to be such cited, and it's actually quite lovely.  James Ingram, a solid good luck charm in the 1980's and 1990's for Oscar, performs the song with Patti Austin, and it's a lovely 80's power ballad, better than you'd remember even if a bit overly sappy.  The song features throughout as a melancholy love theme, only properly playing over the end credits but also appear in snippets throughout.  It's not a bad nomination, for the record, though I doubt when we get down to it in the OVP that Oscar made the wrong call going with An Officer and a Gentleman.  We shall see then, though.

Those are my thoughts on this romantic comedy from 1982-how about you?  Anyone have a fond memory of this, and if not, share your favorite film moments of Reynolds or Hawn?  And also, which of James Ingram's many soundtrack-sourced love ballads is your favorite?  Share below!

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