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Starting Over
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Reviews & Ratings for
Starting Over More at IMDbPro »

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A smart, sophisticated movie that unfortunately palls with 30 minutes to go

7/10
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
13 May 2001

Although puzzlingly slow-moving, "Starting Over" is a gentle, funny film about a newly-divorced man attempting to date again. I loved it when Burt Reynolds (in a benign but amiable performance) hits the furniture store to fill up his apartment, but then sits in his studio surrounded by all the new pieces and now has nothing to do. Or when girlfriend Jill Clayburgh shouts at him, "I am no one-nighter! I am a teacher! I am going for my Masters!" The movie doesn't know what to do with its characters near the end--taking us down a few roads which disappointed me--but otherwise it's a smart, subtle comedy and the appealing players make the most of it. *** out of ****

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Burt's best!

Author: barbarella70
12 January 2003

Exceptionally funny and moving romantic comedy from Alan J. Pakula (Klute, All the President's Men) is a lost late '70's classic! Burt plays Phil Potter, a married every-man who's dumped by his self-consumed wife (Candice Bergen) only to stumble into love with an insecure school teacher (Jill Clayburgh).

Basically it sounds like An Unmarried Woman for men but Starting Over is its own film made with a gentle touch courtesy of Pakula and writer James L. Brooks and features some outstanding performances: Burt Reynolds -displaying vast amounts of charm and sex appeal- can be so beautifully restrained and sensitive (Deliverance, Boogie Nights) but then quickly turn and flash that devil's grin and deliver a line with a comic timing that's pure genius. He's amazing here and Phil is his best creation. Candice Bergen was sensational in Carnal Knowledge but her shallow Jessica is invested with a played-to-the-hilt quality and she shows a hilarious narcissiscm that wouldn't be seen again until Murphy Brown. (See if you can get her delightfully out-of-tune vocal rendition of Better than Evah out of your head after you've watched this!) Jill Clayburgh never found another part like Erica in An Unmarried Woman but then again she really didn't need to and her Marilyn is a slightly high-strung but charmingly shy wallflower and she plays off Reynolds perfectly; the two of them carry Starting Over to its finish with great style.

Starting Over is one of those movies that people vaguely remember and you almost never come across while channel surfing. (It's not even available on DVD and most video stores don't even have a copy of the VHS tape!) It's a shame it's not more available because it has an honest, acutely observational intelligence going for it and feels like a romantic comedy made for people who don't like romantic comedies. It's a great movie!

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Now this is what a "romantic comedy" should be like

Author: XRANDY from Korea
24 June 2001

Man, what a difference 20 years or so makes! I'm not sure when I saw this movie, but since it came out in 1979, and I saw it on TV (probably cable at my brother's house)-it was surely in the early 80s. I couldn't remember the movie very well (though I do distinctly remember Burt Reynolds taking the polaroids of Jill Clayburgh in the shower, and her laughing at the tall basketball player) but I knew that I thought it was funny. In fact it was funny enough to go on my short list of movies to watch again soon (you know that one that you never seem to get to). Well imagine my surprise when I saw this video in the bargain-bin of the video store here on the U.S. Army base in Yongsan Korea for two bucks!

Well I liked the movie back then, but I watched it with totally different eyes as a 37 year-old man. It was still funny, but in a much more relative way. Back then I thought Reynold's antics were charming, now I see them as irrepressible. I'm sure I thought Clayburgh's character was a little strange back then, now I see her as vulnerable and true.

This is a very good movie with numerous scenes that are funny and touching. In an industry flooded with banal romantic-comedies this should set the mark.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Well Made Comedy

8/10
Author: shark-43 from L.A. CA
29 August 2001

This well made adaptation of Dan Wakefield's novel has wonderful comic moments and full-bodied performances. Burt Reynolds underplays his role and does some of the finest work of his roller-coaster career (it's up there with "Boogie Nights" and "Deliverance"). Candice Bergen is hysterical in the role of the wife who wants freedom and a singing career. (Little did we know in 1979 that Bergen would go onto great comedic success as Murphy Brown)James L. Brooks does a terrific job with the screenplay - the divorced men's group scenes really ring true and the moment when they have to leave their community center space so the women's divorce group can then use the room is uncomfortable and very funny. In my opinion, Clayburgh gives an up and down performance, sometimes really connecting with Reynolds and other times she just seems to be impersonating Diane Keaton. Fine supporting work by the always reliable Charles Durning and Austin Pendleton. This film is very hard to find in video stores for some reason. I just happned to catch it again on cable and was pleasantly surprised with how well it holds up.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Nice realistic comedy

7/10
Author: tomodell from Long Beach, California
9 July 2007

This is a nice movie, that depicts a man's difficult time coping with a divorce from a woman he still cares about and falling in love with another woman at the same time. Most critics have said this is Burt Reynolds finest performance. It has some very touching moments that we could all relate to, and there are some very funny moments as well.

Jill Clayburgh is perfect as a normal, not so young, woman that you could run across anywhere. If this movie was made today, they would have cast a gorgeous 18 year old, with big lips that couldn't act.

Candice Bergen, who is gorgeous, steals the show, with a hilarious scene involving her singing. The movie has aged some, and as a previous writer said, "would never be made today." But for me, that statement is complimentary to this movie.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Adult Romantic Comedy

8/10
Author: chconnol from New York, N.Y.
5 July 2005

"Starting Over" works very well because it's a film made for and by adults. And it's got some very funny moments.

Yes, it's got all the trappings of a typical "ROMCOM" but back in 1979, the ROMCOM formula had not developed into the hackneyed, tiresome concept that it became. By the late 90's, the style that "Starting Over" began seems to have expired (it arguably reached it's zenith circa 1994 with "Sleeping in Seattle". Whether one liked that movie or not, all the trappings of the stylized ROMCOM formula were firmly and grossly used in that one.) But I digress.

"Starting Over" works so well because of Pakula's typical very low keyed direction which allows James L. Brooks' screenplay to shine. But this film would be nothing without the cast. Clayburgh is fine but of the three leads, she's the least appealing. Don't get me wrong. She's an engaging presence in the film and it's quite understandable why Reynolds is attracted to her (except for a shower scene in which, to me, she over reacts). The hands down winners in this film are Reynolds and especially Bergen. Bergen tapped into a completely unexpected flair for comedy as a royally flaky song writing ex-wife of Reynolds. She's a gas especially in an hysterical scene when she begins singing a disco ditty ("Better Than Ever") in a hotel room while trying to reconcile with Reynolds.

Reynolds is a complete revelation. Gone is his trademark mustache and cockiness and it works to marvelous effect. He's mature, low key and completely likable. It would've been so easy for Reynolds to play down the part to the point where he appears to be sleepwalking (ala William Hurt in "The Accidental Tourist"). But here, though he's depressed, he's also alive. He's just a guy going through something that he wishes he didn't have to. He loves/likes his ex-wife and can't understand why he's the odd man out.

From a plot and structural standpoint, "Starting Over" isn't much. It's setup and resolution are standard and completely unremarkable. Aside from the wonderful cast and good writing, the film is photographed beautifully by Sven Nyquist. This Swede (who was Ingmar Bergman's chief Director of Photography) knows how to film chilly northern environments and he gives Boston in winter an appealing glow.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A Sophisticated Adult Comedy that Nobody Saw...

9/10
Author: ijonesiii from United States
14 December 2005

After several years as a comic book action hero, Burt Reynolds took a calculated career risk at becoming a romantic leading man in the 1979 comedy STARTING OVER and the risk paid off in spades. Reynolds turned in his best performance up to this point as Phil Potter, a writer whose wife (Candice Bergen) has just divorced him who enters, perhaps a bit too quickly, another relationship with a neurotic schoolteacher (Jill Clayburgh. This smartly directed comedy, lovingly directed by ALan J. Pakula hits all the right notes and introduces characters you care about. Bergen also opened up a whole new career for herself, showing a flair for light comedy, which resulted in her first Oscar nomination. Her musical seduction of Burt with "Better than Ever" is one of the funniest scenes in film comedies ever. Bergen's performance here was largely responsible for her being offered the role of Murphy Brown. Clayburgh (also nominated for an Oscar) is just as good, creating a quirky and heartbreaking character who evokes laughs and sympathy. It has been well documented over the years that Reynolds was deeply hurt when both of his leading ladies here received Oscar nominations and he did not. Then to add insult to injury, the Best Actress Oscar that year went to his girlfriend at the time, Sally Field. Burt should have been nominated for this film...it was beautifully controlled performance that was nothing like he had ever done before. Charles Durning and Frances Sternhage offer strong support as Phils' brother and sister-in-law and don't overlook those wonderful scenes with Burt's Divorced Men's support group. A winning romantic comedy that finally proved Burt Reynolds really knew how to act.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

above average romcom, and Christmassy

7/10
Author: thekesslerboy from United Kingdom
28 December 2013

I loved Burt Reynolds when I was wee. And performances like this, for me, are what he was best at. Here's the scoop: he is normal, we are normal, but the world is a bit crazy, and us normal guys have got to navigate it and find true, terrific, wonderful love.

This is a romantic comedy, a genre which seldom produces a great film, and indeed this is not a great film. That said, it is an above - average, very enjoyable film of it's type, which is genuinely LOL funny in places, and has not dated at all. And, it has a nice Christmas-time thing going on, which may or not be relevant to your interest. Slightly wonky (New York / Bostony) music is fitting, and I would defo give Bergen a cuddle with that see-through blouse thing on.

When the end credits come up, with another cheesy song, you might feel that you know a wee bit more about humanity, and more again about what love really is, and isn't.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Reynolds attempts a fresh start

Author: Poseidon-3 from Cincinnati, OH
12 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reynolds, who was noted at the time for playing a lot of moustached, gum-chewing, hairy-chested rednecks, took a different tack in this thoughtful and understated romantic comedy and it earned him a fair amount of respect (though not an Oscar nomination as many expected.) He plays the husband of Bergen, an aspiring songwriter and singer who proves unlivable during her recent foray into the music biz. After a brief stay with his brother Durning, he sets up his own apartment and goes about entering the dating pool again after many years of marriage. One of the women he meets is Clayburgh, a pleasant, sensitive woman with a fear of commitment and trust. The two strike up a tentative romance and appear to be headed for another go-round at matrimony until Bergen shows up (in a see through blouse) and announces that she's ready to win Reynolds back for herself. Clean-shaven Reynolds gives a low-key, effective performance here. He's mostly a straight man for the zany people who surround him, though he does eventually have a memorable breakdown in a furniture store. His two leading ladies each got Oscar noms and it's a shame that he was denied the same honor as this was a nice departure from his typical fare of the era. Clayburgh is wonderful. She effectively creates a tender, quirky and realistic character; one who is slightly damaged and whom the audience can root for. Her opening line of dialogue is unforgettable! Bergen is also very fine, fearlessly laying out a haughty, problematic and practically tone deaf character who "sings" like a wailing banshee, yet has no idea how wretched she is. Durning (who couldn't look less like Reynolds' brother if he tried!) lends excellent support as does Sternhagen, who plays his match-making wife. Reynolds joins a support group for divorced men that includes several familiar faces from the cinema such as Pendleton and Sanders. (There is one glaring continuity error here, though, in that the editing separates one meeting into two, causing all the men to wear the exact same clothing to two meetings in a row.) Place has an amusing cameo as one of Reynolds' early dates. Despite a few dated trappings, this film still offers worthwhile ruminations and examinations of the emotions and compromises that go into making a relationship work. The humor is mostly gentle, with the exception of Bergen's hysterical songs. The director, Pakula, was someone that A-list stars loved to work for, right up until his untimely death in a car accident.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

excellent film, but academy nomination for bergen???

10/10
Author: bodoe5783-1 from United States
14 March 2007

this film is very well done, portraying those very real situations that people find them selves.

first off, in small but very important, vibrant roles, Mary sternhagen, and Charles durning once again prove their worth, their talent, and their ability to MATTER to a story. both of these actors are just fantastic at recognizing their roles, and DELIVERING more than needed. just fantastic.

also look for Austin Pendleton, in a small but vital role playing it to the hilt. he is a spectacular actor who deserves way more credit and recognition then he receives from Hollywood. versatile, fantastic actor. without actors like him, Hollywood would never survive.

as to the two female leads, well, one and a half, as i can't see why Candice bergen would be nominated for an academy award for this limited performance. she is definitely a major part of the story, BUT NOT A MAJOR FORCE ON THE SCREEN. now, Jill clayburgh, on the other hand is so good in her role here, and so believable, that she definitely deserved recognition. she has the character, the personal trauma, the desperation, the fear down pat. bergen, on the other hand, while she does nail the character, is not that memorable at all.

and Burt Reynolds, is is usual magnificent self, giving 110 % to the story, the character, the production.

if you are an aspiring actor, STUDY Burt Reynolds. he is far more than a plastic banana head sex symbol, leading man. he is of the same cloth of classic actors Humphrey Bogart, Clark gable, john Wayne.....he gets the character down, and gives his all.

this film is a keeper, very well done, and keeps your rapt interest in the final outcome, WHICH IS NOT ETCHED IN STONE, by any means. it can go either way.

well produced, well directed, and well acted.

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