Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Look at Cactus Flower, and Why There is No Good Reason to Bother Seeing, Let Alone Reviewing the Awful Looking Adam Sandler Remake

Goldie Hawn, in her Oscar-winning film debut, was cute as a button a long time ago - with a body that wouldn't quit (even when it wasn't painted up for Laugh-In).  Walter Matthau was once a romantic leading man - and was taken somewhat seriously as such, albeit briefly so.  Ingrid Bergman, still sexy at 53, showed that she was as adept at screwball comedy as she was at romantic classicism.  These are the main attributes of the Gene Saks directed Cactus Flower - a witty, rather urbane sex farce for the discriminating adult.
Seriously though, Cactus Flower, whether it is a screwball comedy for the flower power generation or a hipster wannabe for the middle-agers of the time (it can simultaneously play as both I suppose), is the kind of thing seen less and less (and less) at the movies these days - a sophisticated adult-directed movie.  Not adult in the (eeewww) adult meaning, where we get triple our X-action, but adult as in something not made simply to pander to the youth market of today.

Which brings us to the most recent incarnation of Cactus Flower - the one starring the (unfortunately) ubiquitous Adam Sandler, in what is surely another in a long line of man-child roles, and the equally ubiquitous (but somewhat less unfortunately so) Jennifer Aniston, in what as just as surely another in a long line of cloying rom-com heroine roles.  Now I cannot be sure of my facts here, since I have not actually seen (nor have any inclination to ever see) the movie in question - which is called, incidentally, Just Go With It (or Just Go For It, or something like that, he says with a disdainful mockery)- but I think it is a rather safe bet to do as the film says, and just go with these aforementioned character stereotypes.
Now as for me "reviewing" a film I have not seen (necessary quotes considering this is not actually a review per se, so much as diatribic rant against what mainstream moviemaking has become), I must add here that, though I knew it was sure to be just God-awful, I did have every intention of plopping down my nine dollars or so and seeing the damned thing.  I even went to the theater on three different occasions to do just this very thing, and on three different occasions, I was drawn into three different movies - none of which were Just Go With It.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is, I did have every intention of seeing the movie, even if my subconscious had other, much smarter plans for my time and my money.  I have a feeling even if there were a press screening for the movie (I am not sure if there were any, I didn't exactly search them out in the weeks leading up to its opening) and my hard-earned nine dollars or so was not on the line, the outcome would have been the same.  So instead of going to see this obviously ridiculous movie, I rented a copy of Cactus Flower from Netflix and, as the (more recent) movie says, just went with it.

So back to Cactus Flower.  It is actually a rather funny movie - and Goldie just looks amazing. Tying hipster culture (the hipster/hippie culture of 1969 that is) with the more eloquent older style of film comedy (the square but witty crowd that knows more about Noel Coward than Timmy Leary - dearie) the film works as a melange of intersecting styles (coming to an inevitable smash-up in the early seventies in American cinema) that could work to bring both cultures together in some sort of fictionalized cinematic Utopia.  Pure hyperbole of course, but the movie is pretty fun without such Utopian aspirations.  A thing that I am quite sure cannot be said of the newer, youth-culture-addled pseudo remake.


MrsHenryWindleVale said...

What, no mention of I.A.L. Diamond (i.e. the frequent Billy Wilder partner who co-wrote "Cactus Flower")?

Kevyn Knox said...

A sorry exclusion on my behalf. So sorry.