|Index||9 reviews in total|
This is one of the biggest surprises to come out of the 80's. I could
watch it over and over....Susan Sarandon is great (a strong and dynamic
woman trapped in a dull marriage to a total jerk) - Edward Herrman
plays the perfect total jerk. Judith Singer's relationship with the
lieutenant played by the wonderful late Raul Julia is beautifully
played out. The funniest of all is Judith Ivey with her unbelievable
delivery (especially the line about the cole slaw). The tongue in cheek
parody of an annoyingly incestuous suburban community is handled with
subtle humor and total class. I really recommend this movie!
BTW, Compromising Positions is based on the novel by Susan Isaacs; if you love the movie you will adore the book as well.
This is a movie that you will have fun watching, and you might find
watching it again and again. It is certainly throwaway, and will never
up on anyone's top ten list, but it works nonetheless. Like The Late Show
with Lily Tomlin and Art Carney, it involves a woman investigating a
mystery, a seasoned detective and humor evolving from the lead character
being involved in something so over her head. Judith Ivey has some great
moments as an artist/housewife who loves her husband but seeks out
meaningless sexual trysts. Her pure hedonistic attitude toward her
lifestyle, and unshakable lack of guilt make for some hilarious moments.
Susan Sarandon plays a naive housewife who used to be a reporter. She
for the excitement, but is hampered by a domineering husband who wishes
nothing else from her than a hot meal and clean underwear. It's no wonder
she's ripe for an affair with the lead detective on the case, Raul Julia.
finds himself falling for her despite the fact that she's driving him
by horning in on the case.
I love this movie for the same reason that I love Six Days and Seven Nights with Anne Heche and Harrison Ford, it's funny and has a nice romantic plot that keeps me coming back again and again to experience it. This is Sunday afternoon fodder, lazy day entertainment that won't ruffle your feathers with too serious subject matter and objectionable content. It's just a fun movie.
I really enjoyed seeing Raul Julia pining over Sarandon. Too many times he was the heavy in a film, or being subjected to the machinations of one. Here he is just a man who happens to be a detective, and the only thing heavy about him is the change in his pocket. Sarandon plays her part well, acting oblivious to her growing interest in Julia, a point that Judith Ivey makes clear in blunt and humorous terms.
It's a little silly, and you can see things coming a mile away at times, but all in all you'll be glad you rented it. My wife liked it a lot as well, and it's always nice to find a movie that women like that doesn't smell like potpourri before you even get it in the DVD player. If you like movies like Fletch, The Late Show and Six Days, Seven Nights, you'll enjoy this.
A good script (with adult themes) and an excellent cast make this a most enjoyable caper-comedy about the secret life of an upscale dentist. What this one does with vegetables gives one pause about eating salads anywhere but home, as Judith Ivy (particularly good as an oversexed suburban housewife) dryly points out in one of the funniest lines in the film. The movie is fast-paced with very good direction and production values. Maybe not quite a "10," but close to it.
I recently rediscovered this movie in a box of old tapes. Unable to
remember much about it, I watched it twice more. This made me
appreciate the film more, but also reminded me of its flaws and
A sleazy, tacky, womanizing dentist (Joe Mantegna) serving an upscale New York suburb is murdered in his office one night. A new patient (Susan Sarandon) is drawn into an amateur investigation of the case, rekindling her own spirits and interests. She is the unassuming, dowdy housewife of an egotistical, stressed-out, button-down corporate law firm attorney (Edward Herrmann). Years ago, she was a reporter.
Many in her circle of female friends and neighbors are either gossiping about or had affairs with the dentist (he would say "there is only one way to find out if you are a natural blonde"; when first going out with a new woman, he would take her to a Chinese restaurant by a motel; afterward, he would not even spring for the meal, heading directly to the motel "so they could spend the most time together"). A married woman is desperate to recover the dentist's nude photos of her in lewd poses, which he also took of others, including his nurse.
The suspects include these women, along with Sarandon's tight-lipped neighbor; the dentist's short, nasal, hard-edged wife with the "Nazi dog" (Sarandon's term, after it practically pushes her up and over the back of an armchair trying to take a bite out of her groin); the dentist's chubby, bald, weak-willed brother-in-law, who is a printer and may have worked with him and the mob to produce pornography that "would make a child molester happy"; and the brother's tall, blonde wife.
As she investigates, Sarandon takes abuse from her self-centered, work-absorbed husband and from a sulky, tall-dark-silent-type police detective (Raul Julia). They complain that she is imposing on them, is in over her head, is getting in the way, and is endangering herself (at one point, her kitchen is vandalized). She perseveres, wins the cop's heart and finally her husband's grudging respect, hatches a plan that causes her to stumble into the solution of the murder, and triumphantly presents her free-lance story to a previously skeptical, patronizing editor for publication. As the movie fades to credits, she is working on another.
Sarandon is immensely likable as the down-to-earth, wide-eyed, spunky heroine. Her interplay with her female friends and neighbors -- who range from prim-acting and reserved to bawdy and flamboyant -- is fun. In particular, these characters are drawn with wit, intelligence and attention to detail. The acting is uniformly good. There are nice touches of black humor (e.g., the killer is provoked by the dentist's extra insensitivity in including a certain subject along with the featured woman in one of his photos). Mantegna gets almost no screen time, but we learn enough about his crude tactics through other characters that it might even have been heavy-handed to see more of him in action.
Yet, the film is unsatisfying. Although there is some smart, spicy detail to the dialogue and characters, and Sarandon's good-natured perseverance is endearing, the movie does not amount to much in the end. It is itself like light-weight, gossipy chatter with comfortable, quirky friends about a scandal. It may be a pleasant ride, but it does not feel as if it has much meaning. (The closest the film comes is Sarandon's talk with her brash, philandering friend about marriage and attraction to other men, but it is short and surface-level. Even War of the Roses and Heartburn make more of an impression.) And even the ride becomes a little slow and repetitive after the quirky characters are introduced and as the film wears on, including some bumpy parts (the mob/pornography angle comes off as a vague, muddled, off-putting contrivance).
The film does a good job of creating characters to serve its humorous side. But it does a poor job of creating characters who represent the film's serious side and/or of weaving them into the comedy.
Herrmann's part is well-written and well-acted -- for another movie. His strident rants against Sarandon for not appreciating how hard he works to provide for her and for not dropping the case and staying at home (and her screaming tirade back at him at one point about having to put up with his late-hour, uninteresting work and needing more in her life) are jarringly out-of-place with the comedy and overall tone of this film.
Julia's bland, stiff, tight-lipped, undeveloped character is a huge disappointment. The film makes no attempt to credibly establish him as a cop; he does not make one smart, skillful move in the entire film. We know absolutely nothing about him, except his clipped answer to Sarandon late in the movie that he is divorced with two teen boys. With little more to do for most of the film than deliver tedious, by-the-book warnings, over and over again, that she should not interfere, he is reduced to a Latin Jack Webb. Then he suddenly, awkwardly, without explanation, confesses his love for her, thereafter appreciating her meddling in the case. This abrupt, poorly developed scene comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere, apparently depending heavily on the on-screen "chemistry" between the two actors rather than on intelligible, credible story development. I am all for honoring Julia as an actor, but to mean anything it should be for something meaningful in the material or his performance, not simply for being someone's idea of a "hunk."
It is easy to agree with other reviews that this film has the makings of a fun, old favorite, perfect for revisiting for a pleasant, familiar diversion on a bad-weather weekend afternoon. But to leave a review there ignores nagging problems that get in the way of fuller enjoyment of the movie, on first or repeat viewing. As its relative obscurity suggests, the film is likable but too thin and uneven to really satisfy.
. . .but anyone else should like it,too. I saw it for the first
time in the
theater when I was 19. It was the first movie I went to alone because none
of my friends wanted to see a "girl's movie". It is that, but it's a
wonderful one of those. Since then I've seen it a dozen times and it always
makes me laugh.
Susan is wonderful as always and Raul Julia is solid, but Judith Ivy steals every scene she's in. Some of the other characters are excentric to distraction, but over all it's very entertaining. It's the kind of comedy that's amusing even if it's not laugh-out-loud funny all the time. Now it's a little dated, but still really fun to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, it's not really much of a mystery. Most viewers probably won't
care much who killed the dentist. That's not the point anyway. The
point is to skewer the profession-ridden bedroom communities of Nassau
County, Long Island, New York. They're all upper middle class. The
families live in sizable comfortable homes with terrible prints on the
walls and beds the dimensions of Olympic swimming pools. The husbands,
at least those mentioned, are corporate lawyers, periodontists, and
pediatric surgeons. The wives are all bored and almost all of them are
balling the womanizing dentist, Joe Mantegna, when they're not keeping
trim at the local gym. The kids have names like "Tiffany." Susan
Sarandon is one of the wives who isn't doing Mantegna, but she is
bored. Her two children are taken care of, her husband spends all his
time working, and Sarandon wants to get back into the journalism she
left seven years ago to raise a family. Newsday won't hire her but she
decides to freelance by doing a story on Mantegna's murder.
With Sarandon as the audience proxy, we get to know the neighbors and the handsome police lieutenant, Raul Julia, of the soulful eyes. It's the neighbors and friends who provide the chief source of humor. Sarandon herself, no wimp, is the wide-eyed innocent trying to be polite as she interviews one or another of the many women that the dentist has been taking to the motel and keeping a Polaroid record of them -- tied up, masked, and so on, a little dental peccadillo.
There is no nudity or simulated sex and, I think, only one or two pecks on the cheek between Sarandon and her neglectful husband, Edward Hermann, but much of the humor is pretty raunchy. Let me highlight some points of particular amusement.
At the dentist's funeral, the Rabbi gives the eulogy in a crowded room. As he goes on about the many virtues of Mantegna, the sniffling and sobbing become louder. Sarandon looks around and notices that all the crying is done by the local housewives. I don't have to explain the gag, do I? Sarandon is chatting with her earthy friend, Judith Ivey, about the dentist's murder and wonders out loud why anyone would kill him. Could it be one of his girl friends? But what motive would she have? "Maybe he wouldn't go down on her," replies Ivey. "That's a little excessive, don't you think?" And Ivey says, "I most definitely do not." When Sarandon visits the dentist's wife for an interview, she's invited to sit in what must be the world's least comfortable chair, made all of knobby wood, with the back rest shaped like a menorah. Sarandon is no sooner seated than the German shepherd, Prince, makes a beeline for her crotch.
I won't go on about this light-hearted look at homicide. There are a few moments of tension at the end but they're dismissible. The main weakness in the plot is the feminist theme that runs through Sarandon's increasingly abrasive encounters with her husband. He's a total Neanderthal. "You're not a JOURNALIST, you're a WIFE and a MOTHER!" (The plot has him shouting a lot as he tries to stifle Sarandon's attempts at self realization.) Somebody lost his or her sense of humor somewhere. Frank Perry's direction is professional. He holds on the jokes just long enough and has the characters standing in the right places. Judith Ivey, the raunchiest of the characters, has some lines that are funny because they're shocking. But Susan Sarandon is an outstanding actress. Her features and her figure, that have appeared in so many dramatic movies, seem to be made for comedy. She and the director put them to good use in this diverting fake mystery.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This adaptation of the 1978 Susan Isaacs novel, adapted by the novelist
herself, is a solidly enjoyable, often witty, and amusing comedy-mystery
centering around the murder of a lecherous dentist (Joe Mantegna, appearing
VERY briefly in the opening shots) who has, it seems, "entertained" most of
the housewives in an upscale neighborhood. Susan Sarandon plays Judith, a
former journalist turned mostly-happy housewife (with a yen for excitement,
of course), who was a one-time patient of the deceased and takes it upon
herself to begin investigating the murder, with the help of her best friend,
a clever, worldly-wise, bitchy-witty, dry-humoured artist played to
perfection by the splendid Judith Ivey, and a handsome homicide detective
(Raul Julia). Sarandon is nicely cast in the lead, and makes her character
seem positively real; her line readings are just right, in just the same way
most people would say them. Her chemistry with Ivey is sheer delight, and
Ivey easily steals every scene she's in; Sarandon also has a very nice
on-screen rapport with Raul Julia, with whom there is a tangible romantic
***SPOILER ALERT*** ...unlike the novel, the romantic tension between Sarandon & Julia's characters remains just that: tension, and it is a major disappointment, particularly since Sarandon's Judith is married to the singularly unspectacular, even annoying, Edward Hermann, a likable enough actor but here playing one of those movie husbands whose sole job is to drive his wife into the much-more-deserving arms of another man; alas, Judith remains true to her husband, and the result is not feeling she's remained true to herself but that she's simply settled for a whole lot less and for no really good reason, at that. Perhaps this was changed because Isaacs and/or the producers felt this married woman should remain 'faithful', or perhaps it's because Sarandon is obviously pregnant, despite the attempts to conceal this fact (long, baggy shirts, jersey sweatsuits, holding things or crossing her arms, etc.). The lack of resolution between Sarandon & Julia, and the irritating character of her husband, are probably the major faults of Isaacs' screenplay. (Still, no matter its faults, it remains LIGHT YEARS better than Isaacs' other book-to-screen transfer, "Shining Through", which had its guts ripped out.) This movie could never win any awards - I just don't think it was designed to be, and it is, as usual, not nearly as entertaining as the book, but it was certainly enjoyable enough to warrant 5 viewings back when it was in theatres, and it is still a good time. Give it a try, if only for Judith Ivey. If only the movie were even a tenth as all-out terrific as she is...
This should have been better, much better. A former reporter (Susan Sarandon) investigates the murder of a philandering dentist, and the suspect list includes the women he's had affairs with and their husbands, who turn out to be half the people in town. She delves into small town gossip and Peyton Place-type secrets, and this puts a strains her marriage by angering her husband (played horribly by Edward Hermann). The writers had no idea how to handle the story, in spite of its great promise, and the film makes your average soap opera look like exciting adventure by comparison. In spite of a respectable cast, most of the actors just go through the motions (an exception being Mary Beth Hurt, who is funny but only has a small role). The result is an ordeal in tiresome characters and boredom.
Hard to believe it from this black comedy, but director Frank Perry used to excel with stories about headstrong women shaking off the chains from their men and finding answers on their own. Therefore, it's rather sad to see Susan Sarandon so open-mouthed and hesitant here, kowtowing to a perfectly dreadful Edward Herrmann in the opening scenes of "Compromising Positions". After her lascivious dentist is murdered, Sarandon goes against hubby's wishes and helps detective Raul Julia solve the case. It's too late; too much compromising has been done on Perry's part and whatever visual interest there is early on has sputtered. Is there nothing more depressing than a deadening plot taking place in dullsville surroundings? Perry used to stage high-wire acts in the hearts of high-strung, big city women. Here, he plants his camera on mowed lawns and points it at front doors. The dentist is the lucky one. *1/2 from ****
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|