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California Suite (1978)

Director:
Herbert Ross
COUNTRY
USA
GENRE
Drama/Comedy
NORWEGIAN TITLE
-
RUNNING TIME
103 minutes
Producer:
Ray Stark
Screenwriter (based on his play):
Neil Simon


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Hannah Warren Jane Fonda
Bill Warren Alan Alda
Diana Barrie Maggie Smith
Sidney Cochran Michael Caine
Marvin Michaels Walter Matthau
Millie Michaels Elaine May
Harry Michaels Herb Edelman
Bunny Denise Galik
Dr. Chauncey Gump Richard Pryor
Dr. Willis Panama Bill Cosby
Lola Gump Gloria Gifford
Bettina Panama Sheila Frazier

 

Review

Uneven is an understatement when it comes to describing Neil Simon's alternately heartfelt and idiotic quiltwork California Suite. To start with the positives: This is a film which deals perceptively with the effects of the sexual and female liberation of the 1970s, and portrays the confusion and unresolved positions the liberees have been left in. Simon suggests that the freedom have made the women confused and nonplussed, whereas the men have profited from the reduced responsibility in the wake of it all. He might have had a point - even if it is not the one most people had in mind.

The rest of this film, however, is largely pointless, as Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby suffer themselves through a seemingly endless array of overdone and unfunny set-pieces of the worst slapstick comedy imaginable. There is no excuse for Ross' poor handling of this material, and it only makes the contrast to the beautiful and tender portrayal of the Caine/Smith relationship more baffling. The strength of this material, as well as the potent and relevant Kramer vs. Kramer for amicable intellectuals, starring a great-looking Alan Alda and an inspired Jane Fonda, should have been treated with more respect. Instead, California Suite comes off as a formal disaster, and a very unnecessary one at that.

Copyright 2.10.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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