Part Woody Allen-style mid-life crisis movie, part old-fashioned, door-slamming bedroom farce, part “let’s laugh as rich folks mess everything up while we enjoy looking at their beautiful homes and clothes,” and possibly part therapy session for leading man Warren Beatty, this movie is ultimately mystifying.
Beatty plays architect Porter Stoddard, who seems to have it all. He has a beautiful wife, Ellie (previous co-star and onetime Beatty girlfriend Diane Keaton), who is successful in her own career as a decorator, and he has beautiful homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons. He has two attractive children, and if he is not entirely thrilled with their romantic partners (one does not speak English and one has a tongue stud), his attitude toward them is one of benign neglect. The Stoddards have just celebrated their 25th anniversary in Paris with their very best friends, Griffin (Gary Shandling) and Mona (previous co-star and onetime Beatty girlfriend Goldie Hawn).
But things are about to fall apart. Mona discovers Griffin checking into a bed and breakfast with a redhead, and she leaves him. Porter begins to wonder what he has been missing in 25 years of monogomy, and has a one-night stand with a cellist (Nastassja Kinski), has sex with Mona, and has almost-affairs with two other women, all of whom end up in the same ladies’ room at a black-tie event. There are many, many near-misses, which are supposed to be funny but are merely painful, before Ellie finds out, which is even more painful.
Porter has a near-affair with Eugenie (Andie MacDowell), a woman who thinks her stuffed animals are real and likes to have them simulate having sex. She takes him to meet her wealthy parents (Charlton Heston and Marian Seldes). Her mother crashes into things with her motorized wheelchair, screeching at Heston about his sexual inadequecy in the most explicit terms outside of a porn film, and Heston comes after Porter with a rifle for trifling with his little girl.
Rumors of problems have plagued this movie for at least two years, and some incoherence and inconsistency may be evidence that it has been recut. It is momentarily fun to watch these actors in these settings, and especially welcome to see a movie featuring stars over 25. But the characters never engage us. Ellie and Porter both seem so self-absorbed that it is hard to care whether they stay together or not, and there is something grotesque about the way the charmless Porter is immediately adored by every young, beautiful woman who sees him. Jenna Elfman is wasted in a small role, though she does look great dressed as Marilyn Monroe. There are some funny moments, but overall the movie will appeal most to those who are in the demographic of its performers and not much even to them.
Parents should know that the movie includes extremely explicit sexual references, sexual situations, brief nudity, and very strong language. A character has problems telling the people close to him that he is gay. The subject of the movie is adultery and some, but not all, characters pay a price for infidelity.
Audiences who see the movie should talk about their views on fidelity and resisting temptation.
Audiences who like this movie will also like “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy,” written and directed by Woody Allen.