ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  peter chelsom

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  104 minutes

RELEASED  -  27 april 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  new line cinema

OFFICIAL SITE  -  town & country

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $90,000,000
town & country - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from town & country at

buy the dvd from town & country at

porter stoddard is a well-known new york architect who is at a crossroads... a nexus where twists and turns lead to myriad missteps some with his wife ellie, others with longtime friends mona and her husband griffin. deciding which direction to take often leads to unexpected encounters with hilarious consequences.

this film was released three years after completion.


picture from town & country

picture from town & country

picture from town & country


zero out of four possible stars

Taking over two years just to film, and costing over 90 million dollars, Town and Country is a car wreck of a movie with a slew of characters for which the audience will have no sympathy by the time the film ends. Just about everyone in this film commits adultery, or is gay, or does something to make the audience not really care what happens to them. From all the bad press this film received, it's a miracle it was released to theaters at all. Apparently, this operation got entirely out of hand, having so many actors and story-lines going on at the same time.

You could almost compare it to Traffic in that respect, but you'd have to leave the seriousness at the door. Town and Country tries to be funny instead and fails miserably. It's not often that I see a movie that stars Diane Keaton that has no merits. In fact, this film may be the first time she's been part of a film so horrid that I've begun to doubt her acting ability. Or her ability to choose worthwhile parts for film. Whether it was the script that did this movie in, or the direction, the movie drags on for about two hours, without really being cohesive. But that probably is the fault of the director.

He was unable to create likable characters for this film. Or perhaps he was unable to take a script full of bad characters and create some sort of comedy. And there were so many characters, that the film just seemed a jumble of odd performances. The comedy presented in the film doesn't verge on funny so much as it usually resembles something somebody thought was funny on paper. Because when this script finally came to the screen, the comedy was just not there. It might have been that the dynamics between the characters weren't working and that they were unable to pull together to create comedy. Even the younger actors in the script didn't have convincing roles.

Josh Hartnett and Tricia Vessey play the children of Diane and Warren and have tons of problems of their own, in addition to having to deal with their parents' infidelity. But their scenes just end up being a little crass and uncomfortable. That word can probably be applied to all the scenes of the film. The conversations between characters never come to a resolution and the dialogue between them is nothing if not uncomfortable. But not in a way that presents some sort of "lesson to be learned." It's as if most of what people say is just to get some laughs from the audience, rather than create some sort of coherent plot or tension between the characters.

It seems to me though that although there are younger actors in this film, the plot (what there is of it) revolves around the 50-plus group. Now, no one has said that this segment of the population should be confined to PBS and the antiques road show, but in trying to make these middle aged people "hip" the filmmakers have only proven that 50-year-olds acting like they're seventeen is nothing interesting. And if it can be interesting, the filmmakers here certainly haven't proved it. What these actors deserved was a script with intelligence that allowed them to make some comedy that appealed to mature people. Or at least smart people.

This film takes some dumb characters and creates some dumb jokes and expects people to enjoy the story. It's like creating a Wayans brothers movie without having the benefit of the Wayans brothers in your movie. Stupid comedy takes some talent to be funny. And town and country is just a mess. Something I have to question concerning the editing of this film is the introduction of jenna elfman into the story. Her character doesn't add anything to the story. She just adds to the trail of women that Warren Beatty leaves behind as he travels through life.

And in the end, her presence is used more to wrap up the plot than advance the story. And this is the case with other members of the cast as well. They don't serve a purpose in the script, other than to create some airtime. Of course, this all harks back to the fact that this script is a hodge-podge of different elements that just don't make up a film that's even a tolerable experience in the theater. Or on the television. The characters (there are so many of them) seem thrown together without any care to how they fit together in the larger scheme of things.

Add to that an editing job that makes a music video look like a peaceful experience, and you've got a film that doesn't have any idea what it wants to be. Is it a comedy? Is it a farce? Or is it just the worst film of the year. I realize that's quite a harsh idea, but it's rare that I see a film which has no redeemable qualities at all. It's not the case of a good script and a bad cast. or a bad cast and a good script. It's all bad. 'Nuff said.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs new line cinema 2001
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