Town & Country Movie Review

Past-their-prime actors don't die -- they pick up studio paychecks for hack projects like Town & Country. This drama/comedy/message-movie overflows with wannabe heartfelt sentiment like a three-day old colostomy bag.

Long mired in rewrites, delays, and dismal test screenings, it's easy to see why the studio gods postponed delivery of this stinking mess until the dumping grounds of spring, just before the big summer releases. We get two strong actors -- Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton -- mixed together with a few lesser actors -- Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling, and Andie McDowell -- and they all get to wade through an aimless script (polished up by Buck Henry!) about infidelity, homosexuality, and dysfunctional family affairs. It would have been better served heading straight to video.

The story goes: Successful architect Porter Stoddard (Beatty), his adorable fashion designer wife Ellie Stoddard (Keaton), and their two straight-laced kids (Josh Hartnett and Ally Dunne) live an upper-middle class life complete with penthouse dwellings, two fluffy dogs, chauffeured cars, and a maid with a live-in, half-naked boyfriend. The best part is that Porter never really works at all; he just shows up at a few meetings and then drives out to the coast.

Peter's best friend Mona (Hawn) and her husband Griffin (Shandling) mirror the tranquil lives of the Stoddards until one day, Mona catches Griffin in a hotel tryst. This sets Porter off on an exploration of his own fidelity, leading to cheap laughs and uncomfortable pacing. Porter sleeps with a cellist he spies on during lunch with Griffin. He accompanies Mona to her house in Mississippi and ends up banging her as well. He meets the psycho hose beast played by Andie MacDowell and ends up in bed with her and numerous stuffed animals while Charlton Heston homo-erotically growls at him. He even dresses in a polar bear suit and bumps and grinds the untalented Jenna Elfman (dressed as Marilyn Monroe) at a Halloween party.

During his misadventures, Porter re-evaluates his emotional ties to his wife and family and comes to terms with his own self-validation as a man, and blah blah blah. If this meaningless fodder is supposed to pass for humor, I must have missed a meeting. I can't even figure out what the title Town & Country is supposed to mean. I guess when affluent people sleep around and get divorced, it's a choice between the apartment in Town or the bungalow in the Country.

Beatty hasn't turned in a worse performance since Dick Tracy. He seems downright confused and pissed at himself for taking such a shoddy, one-dimensional role. Keaton and Hawn simply show up and chuckle together while discussing how much worse this film is than Hanging Up. Shandling plays a pent-up homosexual version of Larry Sanders, and Buck Henry tries to convince everyone the script is not his fault. The film never settles into any course of action, volleying from serious family drama to slapstick humor to corny speeches about maturity and "never reaching beyond your limits."

God forbid anyone would try to do that.

Elvis, a polar bear, and Jenna Elfman walk into a bar...


Comments

Town & Country Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2001

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