Bennie travels to Buenos Aires to find his long-missing older brother, a once-promising writer who is now a remnant of his former self. Bennie's discovery of his brother's near-finished play might hold the answer to understanding their shared past and renewing their bond.
Francis Ford Coppola
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Bernard Chanticleer's father gives him two simple words of advice: "Grow up." Bernard knows that his first step is to find a girl who's "willing," but he passes up a sure thing, Amy Partlett, for a more elusive goal. Her name is Barbara Darling, an inscrutable go-go dancer. More than a few obstacles keep Bernard from his dream world. There's his doting mother, who mails him locks of her hair and weeps at the thought of her baby as a man; there's a malicious rooster, trained to attack pretty girls, patrolling the halls of his New York City rooming house; and most of all, there's Barbara herself. She turns out to be a man hater, emotionally scarred by the lecherous wooden-legged hypnotherapist who "counseled" her in high school. All in all, Bernard finds himself in an improbable universe with a calculated clumsiness designed to evoke his confusing coming-of-age. Written by
About 15 minutes into this quirky film I was ready to proclaim it a must see and to bill it as the best movie no one has seen or even heard about. After all it was Coppola's masters thesis for film school. It has Elizabeth Hartman successfully playing against type as a sexy (somewhat psycho) Greenwich Village ingénue. It has Peter Kastner, Rip Torn, Geraldine Page and Julie Harris playing characters more bizarre than anything in "Harold and Maude" (it reminds you a lot of that film and may have inspired it). It has Karen Black doing a toned down version of the Rayette Dipesto character she would play in "Five Easy Pieces". It has a lively sound track by the Lovin' Spoonful. It even has Coppola cutting in extensive gruesome footage from his first film "Dementia 13".
Unfortunately by the halfway point of "You're a Big Boy Now" it totally runs out of steam and you begin to understand that its obscurity is well-deserved. Coppola's script is the problem because the cast are generally excellent and you can tell they had a lot of fun making the film. Even minor cast members like Dolph Sweet do a good job and there are great little sequences like Kastner's after dark explorations of the New York City streets. But unlike "Herald and Maude", Coppola says nothing with this film; consequently it ends up as a classic case of the whole being considerably less than the sum of its parts.
I am not in love with Coppola as a director, but even those who are will acknowledge the incredible distance between his good stuff and the vast majority of his films. This is not his good stuff but is worth checking out if you like Hartman, Harris, and Page.
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