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warren beatty , diane keaton , goldie hawn and gary shandling star as a pair of married couples whose complacent lives are about to be shaken up in director peter chelsom's version of the classic romantic , screwball comedy in " town & country . "
the drawing room farce of the 30's dealt with sexual innuendo and relied on wit and a great deal of commotion and noise to place the viewer in the thick of the duplicitous romantic action .
back then , impossibly wealthy scions of society , with too much free time , would get themselves wrapped up in all sorts of sexual peccadilloes with spouses and lovers , only to have everything come out all right in the end - see " the philadelphia story " for a great farce .
" town & country " has the impossibly wealthy protagonists with too much free time - the kind of people that have jobs but never seem to work - and sexual misconduct on several levels .
but , there is almost no life to original script by michael laughlin and buck henry and this is " t&c's " downfall .
there is , obviously , a great deal of hollywood talent , in front of and behind the camera , involved in " town & country , " but , without a likable or , at least , interesting story to carry through their efforts , it is all for naught .
and , that's what we get here - naught .
porter stoddard ( beatty ) is a high-powered new york architect with a very good life indeed .
his 25-year marriage to ellie ( diane keaton ) appears , on the surface , to be perfect .
but , there are cracks just below this pristine surface .
his wife is suspicious of his whereabouts , his kids don't need him and his best friends , griffin ( garry shandling ) and mona ( goldie hawn ) , are in the midst of a divorce .
porter tries to get control of his life before it is too late , but like a man fighting against quicksand , his struggle just sinks him deeper .
at the 90-minute mark of " town & country " i asked myself , " what's the point ? "
i wasn't entertained , i laughed three times - over silly little pratfalls - and spent most of the film marking time 'til the end .
warren beatty wanders around with his character in a bewildered fog , making problems for himself by thinking with a part of his anatomy other than his head .
keaton's ellie is an empty headed flake who can't see the obvious as porter screws around on her .
and , as you get to know them , who would want friends like griffin and mona ?
the supporting cast is given nothing to do and , sometimes , does harm to the film , given the material they are forced to use .
nastassja kinski plays a cellist with whom porter has a fling .
the actress , who has , eerily , failed to age over the years , is miscast as the air-headed musician and the character doesn't belong , anyway .
jenna elfman is a sweet , but smart , ditz who joins porter and griffin on one of their tacked on misadventures .
andie macdowell is absolutely painful to watch as a wealthy heiress ( is there any other kind in this movie ? )
who comes on to porter .
the saving grace is a pair of quirky perf's by charlton heston and marian seldes as macdowell's very strange parents .
glib rationalization of infidelity , like , " if he doesn't speak english , it doesn't count , " are a staple for the screenplay .
the morality of the film seems to be , if you can get away with it , go for it .
the cast of characters are mostly people you wouldn't want to know , never mind befriend .
the actors do their best , but are hamstrung by the weak material .
helmer chelsom , who made the outstanding , offbeat comedy " funny bones , " is mired in the mess of a script and never puts his imprint on " town & country . "
the production values are high , as one expects from a big budget hollywood film .
but , the opulent sets by caroline hanania , lavish wardrobes by molly maginnis and top-notch photography by william fraker cannot save " town & country . "
the film has had a long list of production and distribution problems and it might have been better , for me anyway , if hollywood just said no to this movie .
i give it a d .