The problem here is that all these people are too old to be running around in bear suits in the snow.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Town and Country runs on two tracks, and neither of them works well. You should go to this movie if you enjoy watching some high-powered actors do their best to salvage a hodgepodge, or you can go expressly to watch one scene that is explosively funny. But you should know first what you have to sit through to see it.

The movie opens promisingly when Mom and Dad return home to find their luxurious Park Avenue apartment inhabited by their newly extended family. It's that point in their lives when they've lost control, and even knowledge, of their children-somewhere between 16 and 22, when the kids are still living at home while making all their wrong first choices right in front of their parents' eyes.

Porter (Warren Beatty) is a widely recognized architect; Ellie (Diane Keaton) is a recognized designer. They make a good team as they shuttle between a Park Avenue apartment and a shingled bungalow in the Hamptons that together are worth in the mid-millions. On the night of their return, they find that their gawky son has a girlfriend, their daughter is living with a man who speaks no English, and their housekeeper has a new boyfriend who wanders around with his enormous bare belly hanging over his pants. They have lost their home to a set of strangers.

Moving up a generation, Porter's best friend, Mona (Goldie Hawn), discovers that her husband, Griffin (Gary Shandling), is having an affair, and Porter begins to indulge his own eye for pretty young women. By the end of the film the list includes Nastassia Kinski, Jenna Elfman, Andie MacDowell, and Goldie herself. As the misunderstandings and sight gags among this group grow into marriage-destroying fights, the movie turns from comedy to farce, often resembling Noises Off with its slamming doors and hide-and-seek tempo.

With their show going down the drain, the filmmakers send Griffin and Porter to Sun Valley, where the second half of the film becomes even worse than the first-with one exception. In the home of Porter's latest seductress, the wheelchair-bound mother (Marian Seldes) of Eugenie (Andie MacDowell) plows through the house in her motorized vehicle, knocking over furniture and unleashing her marital rage at her husband (Charlton Heston) with strings of four-letter insults. Charlton Heston, in grotesque self-parody as a gunslinging, vengeful, power-mad character, is embarrassing. But Marian Seldes, with perfect timing, steals the movie with her theatrical performance.

A pall hangs over this comedy in which Warren Beatty never smiles. He seems uncomfortable in his role as womanizer, denigrating it by being bumbling rather than suave. He's too good, too grown-up, to allow himself to look this silly. In this movie of Range Rovers, beach houses, and power apartments, it is Diane Keaton who resists slapstick and tries to create a classy comedy. The problem here is that all these people are too old to be running around in bear suits in the snow.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 494
Studio : New Line Cinema
Rating : R
Running time : 1h42m

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