By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Everybody has a fling.
Adam (Anthony Hopkins) a middle-aged college professor who starts having an affair with a beautiful young student of his named Lindsey (Bo Derek). When his wife Karyn (Shirley MacLaine) finds out about it she decides to get her revenge by having an affair of her own with a handyman named Pete (Michael Brandon). All four decided to take a ski trip together while staying in the same house with each spouse sleeping with their new found lover. Despite a few hiccups things go surprisingly well until their college-aged daughter Kasey (Mary Beth Hurt) shows up who is none too thrilled with her parent’s new arrangement. Then Lindsey’s father (Edward Winter) appears who, after initially being shocked at the tawdry set-up, eventually adjusts and then makes a play for Karyn as well.
Although the film’s trailer and poster makes this thing look like a madcap farce it really isn’t and despite a comical set-up veers surprisingly towards the dramatic most of the way. To some extent it kind of works and I enjoyed some of the dialogue that tries to dig a bit deeper than most of the other mid-life crisis films as it analyzes why otherwise happily married men would jeopardize their union by having a mindless fling and somehow expecting to successfully juggle both relationships. However, it would have worked much better had it stayed with the comical route. Some of the funny scenarios don’t get played out enough and with such goofy characters and situations it’s hard to take it seriously even when it wants to culminating in an uneven mix of a movie that never quite hits its stride.
There are also certain scenes that don’t make much sense in either the comical or dramatic vein. One involves Adam admitting to Karyn about his affair and instead of her becoming enraged and either throwing him out or leaving they spend the rest of the night calmly discussing it and even going to bed together, which seemed highly unlikely to occur in real-life. The way Karyn hooks-up with Pete is equally stupid as he waltzes into her house unannounced and starts making himself some coffee and breakfeast. When Karyn comes downstairs to find this stranger in her home she doesn’t panic and call the police like a normal person would, but instead after a very brief conversation invites him upstairs for sex.
Hopkins gives and excellent performance and the main reason the film stays afloat and is passable to watch. The way his character is forced to face his own contradictions and flaws is good and the scene where he catches Karyn with Pete is well acted on his part and makes the segment more interesting than it otherwise would have been. Winter is great as well and gives the best performance of his career where his initial shock at discovering their living arrangement is genuinely funny.
The only weak link of the cast is Derek. Yes, she certainly looks great naked and the opening sequence featuring her and Hopkins in the hot tub is okay on the erotic level, but her acting is overall quite poor and her monotone delivery eventually becomes annoying.
Overall the theme is too derivative from many other films that have tackled the same subject making this one hardly worth the effort to seek out. In fact MacLaine starred in another film that very same year entitled Loving Couples that has pretty much the exact same storyline and that one will be reviewed next week.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: December 1, 1980
Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes
Director: Richard Lang
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Available: VHS, DVD