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one of my favorite songs by the stranglers includes the lyric , " you'd better watch out for the skin deep . "
i'd like to extend the same warning : watch out for skin deep , but whatever you do don't watch skin deep .
skin deep is a tedious and uneven comedy written and directed by blake edwards .
john ritter stars as zach , a dried up writer and insatiable womanizer with a big-time drinking problem .
i never saw edwards' comedy the man who loved women , but i have to wonder whether skin deep is a remake .
you see , to put it mildly , zach goes to bed with just about each and every woman he meets .
as the movie opens , zach's wife , alex , catches him with not only his mistress but also his mistress' hairdresser .
like any sensible wife , alex kicks zach out of the house and divorces him .
in response , zach goes on a spiritual journey of drinking , womanizing , psychotherapy , and self-discovery .
if you're turned on by the idea of watching ritter drink , get arrested , have sex , drink , crash his mercedes , have more sex , drink , get arrested again , drink , and sing horrendously at the piano , then skin deep should be right up your alley .
skin deep makes the fatal mistake of inflicting on us unbelievable and unsympathetic characters .
zach is a rich , '80s l . a . version of ritter's jack tripper character from " three's company . "
like jack , zach is clumsy and inept ; he's the type of guy whose bad aim makes him accidently squirt breath freshener into his eye .
zach is supposed to be charming and charismatic , but i failed to see even one redeeming virtue in him .
consequently , i never felt the least bit of sympathy or pity for the philandering alcoholic during his moments of crisis .
in fact , when zach crashes his ex-wife's wedding in a desperate attempt to stop her from remarrying , i actually rooted for her to go through with the ceremony .
to add insult to injury , edwards gives his large supporting cast nothing but stereotypes with which to work .
for instance , vincent gardenia's talents are wasted in his role as the fatherly bartender .
of all the women in the film--and there are many--alyson reed , alone , stands out as zach's wife ; reed brings intelligence and sensitivity to the role .
because we don't care the slightest bit about anyone in skin deep , the film's few feeble attempts at drama inevitably fail .
the comedy in skin deep doesn't fare much better .
most of the jokes are dumb , predictable , and sitcomish .
about every ten minutes , however , edwards does manage to come up with a good line or a novel sight-gag , the most effective of which involves a pair of " dueling " condoms .
overall , the laughs in skin deep are just too infrequent and the characters just too shallow for the film to stay afloat .
my final criticism of the film lies in its glamorous depiction of alcohol and alcoholism .
zach's excessive drinking is clearly ruining his life , but nevertheless it seems to give him more pleasure than pain .
zach's drinking binges never have any truly serious or lasting consequences .
if he crashes his mercedes , he gets a new one .
if he gets arrested , his lawyer bails him out of jail .
if his wife leaves him , she will eventually decide to give him a second chance if he'll clean up his act .
the tone in skin deep is all wrong ; edwards treats a very serious issue far too lightly , making a joke out of a problem that is no joking matter .
perhaps edwards should have studied dudley moore in arthur or , better yet , michael keaton in clean and sober before making skin deep .
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