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Town and Country

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Town and Country

Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton
Director: Peter Chelson
Rated: R
RunTime: 106 Minutes
Release Date: April 2001
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Garry Shandling, Goldie Hawn, Andie MacDowell, Jenna Elfman, Josh Hartnett, Nastassja Kinski, Buck Henry, Charlton Heston, Marian Seldes

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

"We've got a problem?" Porter Stoddard asks his wife Ellie. "Which one?" she asks in reply. Although she is asking him which color of swatch he prefers, this interchange could just have easily been said about Peter Chelsom's comedy TOWN & COUNTRY. Before an orchestra starts, it carefully establishes a reference tone. One of the biggest problems with TOWN & COUNTRY is that it never finds any consistent or successful tone. The result is a dreadful comedy that's as flat as a can of soda left open all night.

Wearing her signature nerdy and eclectic suits, Diane Keaton plays Diane Keaton, although the other characters insist on referring to her as Ellie Stoddard. Warren Beatty plays Porter, Ellie's husband of 25 years. When we first meet Porter he is enjoying a personal cello concerto in his hotel bedroom. A naked Nastassja Kinski has her cello in a bear hug. The cello looks particularly happy. Can't say that I blame it. But, I digress.

It seems that this is the first time that Porter has ever cheated on his wife. He swears to himself to never yield to such temptation again, but he, of course, does not keep this vow. Before his wife can catch him, we switch to their equally wealthy Manhattan friends, Mona and Griffin (Goldie Hawn and Garry Shandling), whose marriage is going through its own crisis since Griffin has been caught dallying.

The country part of the story comes from the decrepit mansions and snow cabins that the couples visit after their marriages go awry. While in Sun Valley, the two guys off on their own run into a local (Jenna Elfman) who takes them to a Halloween party. Elfman dresses as Marilyn Monroe on her visit to President Kennedy, Beatty dons a polar bear suit and Shandling wears an Elvis outfit. The visuals of a tipsy Marilyn Monroe frolicking in the snow with a horny polar bear is one of the few memorable or even mildly amusing parts of the production. (The less said about Charlton Heston's embarrassing role as a mad, gun-toting father, the better.)

The film has reportedly been recut several times in order to find some version that works. The editors clearly stopped too soon. They should have kept cutting until all that was left was confetti. They could have used the confetti to celebrate something worthwhile like some better movie's release.

TOWN & COUNTRY runs 1:36. It is rated R for sexuality and language and would be acceptable for most teenagers.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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