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Time-Slip: Seems Like Old Times - Laura Wise

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March 21st, 2011

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08:10 am - Time-Slip: Seems Like Old Times
On this Monday, I'm confused about what decade I'm in.

Beyond the usual confusions of old songs on the radio and old clothes in my closet making strange, unheralded reappearances, last night I rewatched the 1980 flick Seems Like Old Times. (I was inspired to netflix it because I keep thinking about Chevy Chase in Community and how much he's changed. Which, thirty-one years, fair enough. But still.)(Also, I used to love it, which, a long time ago, fair enough. But still.)

In case you have never heard of this movie, it's a Neil Simon script in his California Suite vein (ie. v much California of the late 70s), although more classical-farce with a tinge of rom-com; it's directed by Jay Sandrich, an accomplished sitcom director whose camerawork and blocking don't quite come off here. (Too clunky, too theatrical.) Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn, who made an adorable team in Foul Play, are back semi-together here -- he's her ex-husband, a feckless novelist who accidentally/on purpose creates mayhem; she's a bleeding-heart defense attorney with six dogs and a variety of misdemeanored misfits working for her, now married to Charles Grodin, the would-be Attorney General of California. Stuff happens. It doesn't end like you think it would.

What I found interesting:
*when I first saw the movie years ago, I thought Chevy Chase, rumpled, tall, smirky-sarcastic, was hot hot hot. On this rewatch... he's still physically cute, but his character is an affect-less boychild. Not cute. (Takes a fall like nobody's business, however.)
Actually -- I would bet Joel McHale watches early C Chase rom-coms and takes notes on what to avoid, because there is a whole lotta Jeff Winger in those early C Chase roles. But McHale makes Jeff more textured and more open-hearted than this character.

*in the moments when Goldie Hawn turned off the aggressive adorability, she was utterly believable, and much funnier. There's a brief morning scene in her and C Grodin's kitchen -- she's exhausted and not quite 'there', he's deadpan -- where their comic rhythm takes pretty formulaic Neil Simon badinage and makes it sing. (I still giggle when I think of Grodin's laconic reading of the line "That's how it lays out." Not funny out of context, yes, but HEE.)

*Charles Grodin. I adore him in this movie, even when he's being an ass (which is often). He's a grown-up, see, and I totally get why Hawn's character stays with him.

*There is a very 70s tension between the film's attempt to include characters of color and its result of amazing ultimate stereotyping. [sigh] That being said, Robert Guillaume as Grodin's colleague and political adviser is just wonderful.

*There is also a very 70s sensibility in that Hawn's character is not particularly neurotic. In fact, she's much more grounded than a lot of contemporary rom-com heroines.

But now I'm hearing all of those late 70s, early 80s soft-rock movie songs in my head (Christopher Cross and "Arthur's Theme"! Stephen Bishop and "It Must Be You"! ARGH) and I think I have to pull out the platform pumps and the flared trousers.

If you were to revisit today something you once loved, what would it be? What era?

May you find yourself just the right thing from just the right time. :-)

(20 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 21st, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, golly! *Those* old times! You've nailed everything about Neil Simon and that stable of actors that there is to say, I think (and omg, Carole King and James Taylor are playing in what passes for the Major City here tonight ... I won't be there, but I felt a frisson ...)

Early-80's soft rock be damned! (Even if I did by the 45s at the time.) And I can't *believe* they're re-making Arthur. Jeez. LIke it was *such* a gem the first time 'round?

Oh! and Yes! Goldie Hawn can so be better than she usually is -- like, she could have been Julianne Moore in "The Kids Are Alright" this year.

Anyhow, revisiting. I watched the very first two episodes of "The X-Files" last night. I'd forgotten how Scully/Gillian Anderson was meant to be a Clarice Starling/Jodie Foster clone, and how David D. looked 8 years old. And shoulder pads!

1993 -- it was earlier than you thought!
[User Picture]
Date:March 21st, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, Carole and James! [clasps hands to heart] I'd be sorely tempted, I think.

But yes, early X-Files is amazing and very 1993. (I don't actually want to think about that being 18 years ago...) The mobile phones, big as a house! ;-)

Am sending you all sorts of good thoughts and hugs, H_P. A good Monday to you in all ways!

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