First let me just say that I love 80s comedies, especially ones with Bette Midler. 80s Bette Midler films are some of the best you can watch in my opinion. They’re just fun and highly entertaining. Ruthless People, Big Business, Down and Out in Beverly Hills…. these are all great films and Bette Midler is the common denominator. They’re also very well written and just a blast. In this particular films case, the magic is in this wonderful cast and in the lighthearted script. Films like these are meant to be a fun release, and if you walk away with a smile on your face, having had a good time then I’d say they did their job. The filmmakers and cast of this film did their job.
A lighthearted blast is the most succinct way to describe this film. There aren’t any high stakes or huge character arcs, but there’s a lot of amusing fun and great lead characters, and that’s all this comedy really needs. The three leads are Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss, and Bette Midler who are all terrific actors who can handle comedic material very well. Nolte plays the homeless bum and does it with a relaxed carefree way that works well for the character. His character doesn’t really care about much of anything and so he carries this “whatever” kind of attitude. This careless type of energy makes for some good comedy and it makes for a surprisingly lovable lead character.
Now while I’d say Nolte plays the “lead”, I think Bette Midler is the real star here. As I’ve established, I’m a big fan of Bette Midler comedies and I think acting wise, she’s at her best in them. She has some knockout scenes and moments here where you just can’t help but laugh. She’s a natural talent and brings a lot of funny energy to the film. She honestly steals every scene she’s in.
And then we have Mr. Richard Dreyfuss, who plays Midler’s husband and who initially invites Nolte’s character to stay with them. Dreyfuss does a good job of playing the straight character who seemingly has things together. He’s a very gifted actor and is ever convincing in his role and while his character is mostly straight laced, he has some funny moments where he gets to let loose like everyone else. The whole cast does a top of the line job here… Little Richard too!
The script is pretty simple, nothing too high concept here. The main thing I love about this script is the way Nolte’s character works his way into the family and how he connects with each family member. The ways in which he solves some of their problems and wins them over makes for good comedy and for an amusing upbeat story. Nolte’s interaction with Midler and how he eventually makes her like him is just great and one of the funniest scenes in the film. Another brilliant piece of comedy comes shortly after that scene and involves Midler and Dreyfuss re-igniting their love life. This scene cracked me up, mostly due to Midler’s over the top enthusiastic performance.
Most of the scenes in this film are over the top in nature and that works. Some comedies are too over the top and come across as screechy and desperate but not here. This film is over the top just the right amount. It’s silly and highly energetic but also has really nice characters that provide moments of heart. In a truly great comedy, you need scenes of laugh out loud moments of course but you also need actual characters and some sense of heart to ground things.
This film, like all the other well done comedies has those things and utilizes them well. Also, the ending to this film is a great way to close out such a fun story. The ending is so bombastic and hilarious and I was so glad to see that it ended on a memorable effective note. We all need to see movies such as this one from time to time. Life can be stressful as hell and sometimes you need a film that’s just simply a blast to watch, a film that’s whole purpose for existing is to entertain and make you laugh.