Saturday 7 October 2017

Movie Review: 10 (1979)

A sex comedy about the mess men can create at the midpoint of their life, 10 achieves laughs but also dawdles for too long in obvious territory.

Beverly Hills-based music composer George Webber (Dudley Moore) arrives at a full-fledged mid-life crisis after his 42nd birthday. Neither his lover Samantha Taylor (Julie Andrews) nor his friend and co-composer Hugh (Robert Webber) can help. Things get worse when George stumbles onto the wedding of Jenny (Bo Derek), and is immediately infatuated with the stunning young bride, whom he rates as an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.

George starts to drink excessively, abandons Samantha and follows Jenny to a Mexico honeymoon resort, where he befriends Don (Brian Dennehy) the bartender. George stalks Jenny on the beach, fantasizing about an unlikely romance and trying to work up the courage to conjure up a meeting. Meanwhile, Mary Lewis (Dee Wallace) is a lonely woman at the same resort, and she sets her sights on George.

Cast as the almost mythical subject of a middle-aged man's lust, 10 catapulted Bo Derek from obscurity to superstardom. Her braided cornrow hairstyle and skin-coloured one-piece swimsuit became instantly recognizable and much-copied, and she was immediately appointed as the newest Hollywood sex symbol.

With Derek dominating the headlines, the film itself is almost, but not quite, irrelevant. Director Blake Edwards does not help his own cause by flubbing the pacing, somehow contriving to extend the flimsy story to over two hours.

Almost every scene and idea is tediously stretched beyond what is necessary, the initial laugh always drowned in a chorus of prolongation. George walking across the hot sand is funny; but not after the first 30 seconds. George tumbling down an embankment and attempting to climb back up is maybe funny; but not after many minutes of panting and gasping. George and Samantha missing each other's phone calls is amusing the first couple of times; by the fifth round, the joke is truly spent.

And Dudley Moore is afforded far too much drinking time, with scene after scene of George chugging back the alcohol and stumbling around in a drunken stupor in a desperate attempt to reverse his age.

She may not know the first thing about acting, but here the better moments almost always feature Derek, whether running on the beach in slow motion or matter-of-factly exposing George to the generational gap that he will never be able to traverse. Edwards fully commits to the world of adults with plenty of nudity, and the bedroom scenes, once they arrive, carry the requisite awkward edge. Ravel's Bolero (Jenny's favourite lovemaking soundtrack) enjoyed a massive worldwide revival.

The rest of the cast members are capable but hampered by the excessive focus on George. Julie Andrews as Samantha is the grounding mechanism that George refuses to hold onto, but she disappears for long stretches from the second half. Brian Dennehy and Robert Webber provide robust support but both deserved more screentime, as did Dee Wallace.

The theme of middle-aged angst is run thoroughly through the wash-dry cycle, but Edwards appears oblivious to George's life of immense privilege. His emotional troubles are the embodiment of the ultra rich and comfortable finding something - anything - to whine about between trips in the Rolls-Royce.

10 enjoys its moments at the expense of the wayward male mind, but while Bo Derek may have briefly been the world's 11, the film scores a more mundane 6.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

1 comment:

  1. The best line in the movie is when Dudley Moore says “everything passed 40 is patch patch patch“.

    That line, applies to men and women, and everyone human, and is hysterical but true to life!


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