Tag Archives: Sharon Stone

Irreconcilable Differences (1984)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Girl divorces her parents.

Nine-year-old Casey (Drew Barrymore) has decided she’s had enough of her parents (Shelley Long, Ryan O’Neal) and wants to get a divorce from them by using the emancipation law, which states that a minor can be freed of their parents if it is found that they have not meet their legal or equitable duty. Her mother and father fight this in court, but in the process are forced to expose all their skeletons including the awkward way they first meet, their affairs and eventual disdain for the other.

What surprised me most is O’Neal’s presence. His career has become so tarnished by his own real-life accusations of poor parenting that I would’ve thought this material would hit too close-to-home and he’d avoid it, but at the time this was considered a career resuscitator for him even though it ended up being only a brief one. His performance is actually quite funny making this his best work since What’s Up Doc?

I was equally impressed with Long who plays completely against type. Normally she’s best as snotty, prissy types, but here she reveals a much more vulnerable side and does quite well. At one point I even felt some genuine sympathy for her, which is something I’ve never felt at any other time with any of the other parts that she has played.

Sharon Stone, who gets listed in the opening credits as being ‘introduced’ even though she had already had a part in another theatrical feature Deadly Blessing that came out three years earlier, lends strong support. The way her character transitions from a wide-eyed free-spirit to bitchy Hollywood diva is quite entertaining and she looks great especially when topless. However, the bit where she exposes her excessively hairy armpits is gross and kind of tainted my image of her the rest of the way.

The script, which is based loosely on the relationship between Peter Bogdanovich and his wife Polly Platt with the Sharon Stone character representing Cybill Shephard who became the other woman, is sharp and filled with a lot of Hollywood in-jokes. The two funniest bits are the conversations between the guests at a chic Hollywood party as well as a glimpse of O’Neal’s disastrous attempt to direct a big budget rip-off of Gone With the Wind by trying to turn it into a musical.

The film though spends too much time on the parents while almost forgetting about Barrymore who’s only seen sporadically. The story also takes too long to play out with a final reconciliation segment that is overdone and sappy and helps to lose the wonderfully cynical tone that the film had earlier.

The only truly interesting aspect about the film is that Barrymore later used this same emancipation law to divorce herself from her real parents when she turned 15 and stated in interviews that she did it based off of the idea that she got from doing this movie.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: September 28, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 53Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Charles Shyer

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD

Deadly Blessing (1981)

deadly blessing

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Murder in bible country.

When her husband is killed in a mysterious tractor accident Martha (Maren Jensen) must try to forge on alone while living on an isolated farm surrounded by a religious sect known as The Hittites who show great disdain towards her due to the fact that she is not one of them. Lana and Vicky (Sharon Stone, Susan Buckner) are two of her friends who come to visit and offer solace. Soon more deaths and strange events begin to occur convincing them that the feared incubus, which is a male demon who descends onto female victims as they sleep, may soon be approaching.

This low budget foray, which was filmed in both Ohio and Texas and directed by Wes Craven, is competent enough to hold the viewer’s attention despite a convoluted story that goes on longer than it should. The best part of the film is its female cast, which to date marks the last acting role for both Jensen and Buckner as well as the first speaking part for Stone. Jensen, whose nude scenes were done by a body double, is okay, but Stone is the better actress and looks just as beautiful today as she did back then. In case you thought that actors didn’t earn their pay she certainly does here by allowing a live spider, albeit with its teeth removed, to fall into her mouth during a creepy nightmare segment that I’m not sure I would’ve been up to myself. The film also features Lisa Hartman and the ageless Lois Nettleton as her mother.

The shocks are trite and the creepiness at only a minimum. However, the segment where a large snake crawls into the bathtub while Jensen is in it had me creeped out and the scene involving Buckner having her car set on fire while she is still inside is good too, but both of these segments are similar to ones that Craven used in his later films making me believe that his horror concepts had a definite limit.

The Hittites, which are presumably so strict that they make the Amish look like ‘swingers’, are too one-dimensional and their leader, which gets played stoically by Ernest Borgnine, seems unusually hateful.  I can’t say that there aren’t religious sect leaders that are like him, but I don’t believe they would be so outwardly hostile to people from outside his group and would try to put on more of a kindly façade. I also thought the idea of the Buckner character starting a relationship with one of the Hittite boys, which is played by Jeff East, was unrealistic as they came from such vastly different backgrounds that trying to form any lasting bond or connection would be expectedly slim.

Michael Berryman as one of the more aggressive sect members gives an energetic performance and the fact that Craven advertises another one of his other projects, the TV-Movie Summer of Fear, on a theater marquee during a segment shot in the town, deserves a few merits, but what I really liked was the completely unexpected surprise ending that helps the film rise above the usual ‘80s horror and was something that was forced onto Craven by the producers and not actually of his own devising.

deadly blessing 2

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: August 14, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes

Rated R

Director: Wes Craven

Studio: United Artists

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video