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Susan Saint James,
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Oregon, 1980: Jane, Elaine and Louise are all feeling the effects of inflation and cannot afford, as the title states, the high cost of living. Jane cannot afford a babysitter or get married and if she wants privacy with her boyfriend, she has to sleep in the car. Even worse, her war veteran father comes to live with her to turn her life upside down. Louise lives a happy life with her veterinarian husband, Albert. She runs an antique shop on the side, but since it doesn't take in any profit, the IRS considers it a hobby. She needs to come up with the money to keep it going, or she will be trouble with the IRS. Elaine's husband has left her for another woman and without any money. She is in a constant struggle with banks, power companies, and gas stations. She needs money to get by and also catches the eye of police officer Jack. The local mall is having a contest that features a giant money ball that states it will help fight the inflation. Elaine comes up with a plan to steal the ... Written by
A crew member is visible in a car bumper at the start of the garage sale scene. See more »
Louise, I swear to you there is no money. If you only knew what was going on in that hospital. It's not only the IRS, I'm in deep financial trouble, and I need you to hold me, to hug me, to kiss me, to reassure me that everything isn't as hopeless as it looks.
The only thing that is hopeless, Albert is that you're horny 24 hours a day.
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For some reason, a slew of movies in 1980 mark a turning point in my developmental teen years: 9 to 5, A Coal Miner's Daughter, Private Benjamin, et.al. HTBTHCOL is yet another...one that took a long time to eventually come out on DVD.
It's even funnier than I'd remembered. While the story is good and the acting is ok, it's the cultural references circa 1980 that totally make the movie work for me (I'm 36 yrs old in '04). Jane Curtain's '80 Cutlass sucking gas, her oh-so-'70s contemporary house--complete with green bedspread and Buick-sized answering machine, the endless references to inflation, the grocery store cashier actually saying the name of each item before ringing it up by hand ("toy gun, $1.95..."), etc.
Jane Curtain actually does give the best performance, not only for her manic attempts to find cash, but for her impromptu striptease ("are you ready to see 1985, or should we skip right to 1990?"). The chemistry between Jane and Jessica Lange's character is quite good. Poor Susan Saint James...her character is annoying, whiny, and basically she serves as the Curly of this trio. (Yeah, I'd bring my kids to rob a store too...)
In all, this is a cute, silly time capsule to the dark days of inflation, 17% mortgage interest rates, slanted wood houses with lots of poorly utilized space, ferns, etc. One funny note: Jane Curtain's character makes numerous references to prostitution (to the gas station attendant, to the gals at the restaurant, and to Jack--the copy played by Dabney Coleman).
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