After a rich old man dies in a suspicious car accident in Acapulco, his widow wants his insurance company to pony up $5 million. A hotshot investigator Decker (Grodin) and a charming model (Fawcett) come in to check it out.
James, a daydreamer and photographer, must learn to cope with life as his father moves the family from Oregon to Boston MA. Though there is much humor here, the series dealt with many ... See full summary »
George Lollar takes his family on vacation with "Club Sand", a shoddy and untrustworthy company. On their tropical island, they find soldiers everywhere, an unhelpful staff, inhospitable ... See full summary »
Robin Pearson Rose,
A pushy, narcissistic filmmaker persuades a Phoenix family to let him and his crew film their everyday lives, in the manner of the ground-breaking PBS series "An American Family". However, ... See full summary »
"How are you gonna write about life if you don't live it a little?"
I've always felt a real attraction to the early heyday of 1970s-80s television movies. Often, and perhaps at their best, they were adaptations of novels or screenplays deemed either too low-key for cinema or uncomplicated enough to manage on a small budget. Something like "The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank" is an ideal example of both. It plays very much like a pilot for a TV series, and as far as family comedy/drama shows go, it would have made a very good one.
It's an easy film to believe, though everything is secondary to the roles of Carol Burnett and Charles Grodin. Burnett is busy channeling elements of everything she played on her 11-year variety show, and it works well in the framework of sarcastic dialogue. She plays it up a bit like a screwball comedy, but it works because she's just as believable in dramatic scenes. Grodin is convincing playing what tended to be a very typical role for him the bemused, confused, slightly put-upon straight man. There's good humor in the gentle absurdity.
In fact, gentle absurdity would be a good enough summary of the film. It's not too sad or too funny, but it IS funny and it's familiar. There's a steady anxiety, and a lot of social humor. Like life in general, you laugh at what you know, and get on with things. While in no way being about anything big, "The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank" convincingly shows you small slices of life and at the risk of being sarcastic (though still keeping with the mood), some cut deeper than others.
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