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Henry Orient is a madly egocentric and overly amorous avant-garde concert pianist who is hilariously pursued all around New York City by two 14-year-old fans. The girls, Val and Gil chase a harassed Henry all over the city, thwarting his afternoon liaisons with a married woman and leaving utter chaos behind them - until Val's sexually promiscuous mother appears on the scene to put a stop to the girls' shenanigans. Written by
It's always more fun when people you like get themselves into trouble
The theme of this movie is that adolescence can make girls behave obsessively about an older man and that parents shouldn't be too concerned or interfere too much. They'll grow out of it. But thank goodness Nora Johnson spent her efforts creating and developing the characters. The viewer is too interested in following these two teenage girls to consider the plot may have a point. Both new to an exclusive New York City girls school Val and Gil's friendship grows partly out of needs lacking in their homelife and partly out of their contrasting and complimenting personalities. Gil lives with her Mother and her mother's friend Boothie, both post divorce, strong, middle class values type women. Her Father lives Florida with his new family. Val's parent are wealthy, travel and occasionally drop by New York and see their daughter. Val we are told by another classmate has an extremely high "intelligent quota" and sees a shrink. Val is also a prankster who brings Gil into her high energy and overly dramatic make believe world.
Early on, director George Roy Hill pulls together scenes of one afternoon in Central Park spent pretending to be chased by a band of evil cuthroats, leaping over every possible object and their first encounter with Henry Orient. The afternoon ends with Gil explaining how she misses her father particularly at dusk. Val verbalizes her feelings perfectly as she spins a fantasy about Gil's father showing up one evening to return to her mother as his one true love. This is one of several scenes that draw you in and before you know it the emotions have gone from energetic to sentimental seamlessly. That is the strength of this movie that it is so personal and true to life without sacrificing the tension of the plot keeping up interest. It is also a very funny movie, with only a couple of occasions where the humor is not appropriate to the emotion of the situation.
Val develops a crush on Henry Orient, a concert pianist who hides his Brooklyn roots behind a fake accent and hides his mediocre talent behind avant-guarde music. Val and Gil secretly follow him around town unwittingly spoiling his attempts to seduce a certain married woman. The situations are certainly geared towards adults but never condescending to the girls. I'm not surprised the movie was not as successful as other Peter Sellers movies of the time. It doesn't appear to be the type of movie that fans of The Pink Panther would flock to see. Yet it can be appreciated by a wide audience because the makers didn't assume the viewer would understand or sympathize with a couple of crazy teenage girls or their less than perfect parents. They took the time to make them real, and funny. That's why the zaniness and sentiment in the plot works. And Sellers is given plenty of time to make his character the complete buffoon that he his. Plenty of physical stuff. I can't think of anyone who would fail to enjoy this movie.
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