Saturday, December 5, 2009


We watched this movie last night. It was directed by Michael Ritchie, who also directed Smile. This one stars Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, and Jill Clayburgh and it's about, all of things, football and EST.

Yes, football...and EST. It's a weird combination. The movie truly is about both, but oddly, it works.

The story revolves around three lifelong friends who, after some failed marriages and other misadventures, have now found themselves happily sharing an apartment. Two of them, B.C. Puckett and Shake Tiller, are professional football players; the third is the team owner's daughter, Barbara Jane Bookman.

The trio are fun-loving, rambunctious, silly, and carelessly comfortable together; you can easily picture them as childhood friends. But their carefree, light dynamic shifts when Shake (played by Kris Kristofferson) discovers BEAT (a parody of EST). Suddenly, Shake has acquired a deep intensity which fascinates Barbara Jane. As Barbara Jane and Shake become closer, B.C. finds himself increasingly shut out, more so as it begins to dawn on him that his own feelings for Barbara Jane are stronger than he knew.

At first, B.C. is at a loss for how to cope with this change. Not only are his friends suddenly absorbed with BEAT (and each other), but he is surrounded 70s fads wherever he turns. One of the other members of the team purports to draw on "pyramid power," while the team's owner (and Barbara Jane's father) Big Ed Bookman, advocates a strict regimen of "creeping and crawling." Big Ed also orders B.C. to be "pelfed" a unpleasant-looking treatment administered at "Clara Pelf Clinic" by a frightening old woman (Clara Pelf herself).

The movie really hits its stride when it finally dawns on B.C. Puckett that the only way to regain control over this situation (and win back Barbara Jane's attention) is to develop some profundity of his own--or at least to fake it convincingly. That's when the tables start to turn.

Burt Reynolds is extremely likable and appealing in the role of B.C. Puckett. He radiates a natural charisma which is fun to watch. B.C. is the only character in the movie who really knows who he is. He doesn't always do the right thing, he has flaws like everyone else, but through it all, he conveys the kind of assurance that comes from within, not from following fads.

Bert Convy is hilarious as Friedrick Bismark, the smarmy leader/founder of BEAT. Robert Preston is also very funny as Big Ed.

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