Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Film Review: THE END (1978, Burt Reynolds)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 100 minutes.
Tag-line: "Are there laughs before death?" Apparently not.
Notable Cast or Crew: Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Sally Field, Norman Fell (THE STONE KILLER, THE KILLERS), Joanne Woodward (THE THREE FACES OF EVE, THE FUGITIVE KIND), Myrna Loy (THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, THE THIN MAN), Carl Reiner (THE JERK, SUMMER SCHOOL), Strother Martin (COOL HAND LUKE, THE WILD BUNCH), Kristy McNichol (WHITE DOG, THE PIRATE MOVIE).
Best one-liner: "That man's nuts! Grab 'em!"

Oh, no. Tell me this isn't happening. I love Burt. The giggle, the goosing, the impetuous smarm. I love Dom even more. The chubby cheeks, the playful demeanor (never has someone been quite so mischievous without an ounce of malice), and the unfettered optimism, even in the wake of getting slapped by Burt, nonstop. Put 'em together, and you've got gold.
Well....I hate to break America's collective heart, but not always. Let me lay it all out for you. It's a tale of terminal illness and suicide. Burt directs, and Burt stars. The director seems to be playing it straight. The star is playin' it strictly for laffs. Allow me to reiterate: THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON.
Why the disparate agendas? Burt's got the beard, and Dom's clean-shaven. That's gotta throw some people off, but forget about that for a second. The problems are fivefold:

#1. The pacing. The pacing is HORRIBLE. It is excruciating. Simple scenes that don't advance the plot, don't develop character, and don't contain laffs should not be lasting in excess of ten minutes.

#2. Where is Dom? Dom doesn't even appear until around the half-way mark. Even after that, he's only really a supporting character.
DOM IS GOLD. YOU DO NOT WASTE GOLD. I thought you knew this, Burt! Dom gives it his all. If Dom were onscreen the whole time, this might have been a fine film.

#3. Stop playing with your chest hair, Burt. I'm, trying to eat a snack. I like it better when you're –schwink– goosing Loni.

#4. Groan-inducing jokes. Burt insinuates that his last meal might be Sally Field's–
MEOWWWW!, her cat interjects. Simply rib-tickling. On the Laff-O-Meter, I'm reminded of the near necrophilia from STROKER ACE. Then there's the slew of racial gags– from Burt pulling out the old derogatory chestnut, "beaner," to the stock 'Asian-style' music that accompanies the whacky gardener, the movie's full of wince-worthy would-be knee-slappers. And now, since I've used the phrase "wince-worthy would-be knee-slappers," I am as big a douche as Burt was for making this movie.
Burt Reynolds in a ladies' housecoat, drinkin' a Coors is not in and of itself, funny. Sure, it could LEAD to something funny, but that would require some form of additional effort.

#5. Wasting legends. Aside from Dom, there's stars like Myrna Loy, Joanne Woodward, and Norman Fell.
(Now Norman Fell's not a legend, per sé, but acting alongside the likes of Lee Marvin, Clu Gulager, and Charles Bronson has certainly made him more endearing.)
Myrna Loy: "I acted with William Powell, I drank martinis with William Powell. William Powell was a friend of mine. And you, Burt, are no William Powell."

Give these actors something to do, dammit! Kristy McNichol, on the other hand, acquits herself with twee charm.
In fact, her brief scene with daddy Burt is probably one of the best parts of the film.

Whew. How to end such a film? Well, Burt could always end with a weak FROM HERE TO ETERNITY parody, some sped-up footage inspired by Benny Hill, and call it a day.....
...Annnnnd he does. Two stars.

-Sean Gill

No comments: