Happy Birthday Gemini is a seriously flawed screenplay based on a respected stage play.
Madeline Kahn proved me wrong. I've always believed she could do ANYTHING and I would love her in it. Here, her Bunny Weinberger is so one-dimensional, vulgar and loud it's nearly drowns out completely the rest of an almost gentle madcap comedy and she almost single handedly sinks the entire proceedings. Kahn plays what could have been a complex portrayal as a one note song pushing the contours of the film out of shape, as though she's playing the Tuba in a string quartet. With little differentiation between moments played as bombed out of her mind or just out of her mind it's difficult to find one's way to Bunny. But, Kahn being Kahn, there are moments where she can't help but sparkle, e.g., her scene where she describes her faded youth and the current color and state of her hair "hepatitis." I couldn't help but think of the Recognition Scene from Strauss's opera "Elektra" this scene, one of the scripts most poignant, with Robert Viharo, played out.
Oddly, while the adult roles in this screen adaptation all have an over-the-top wildness, pronouncing their lines with a stage-like manner, the kids - Alan Rosenberg, Sarah Holcomb and David Marshall Grant - are absolutely wonderful. Each member of this trio captures perfectly the balance between naivete of youth, budding pretentiousness of the know-it-all college students, and the self doubt and fears of young adulthood, and awareness of budding sexuality.
While some scenes feel false there are enough moments that ring with a tenderness belying and overcoming the overwacky comic proceedings. These moments add nuance, balance and order. A terribly flawed, at times very funny and ultimately touching movie.
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