Skin Deep (1989)
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This is a comedy that has an exaggerated sense of being true to life. It is somewhat serious, Zach is a tortured soul, but he's mostly casually tortured and takes his abuse with humour, which makes it okay for us to laugh. He's a washed up writer, his wife has left him with a settlement that was not exactly fair to his side, and he can't get over his obsession with picking up women. He's addicted. This is one pathetic man. He endures some of the most hilarious situations ever committed to film (I won't even bother mentioning the glow-in-the-ark condom sequence, but yes, it is hysterical). He also endures genuine sadness in his life, and that makes him more human than just a simple comic sketch, and makes this such a great movie.
The ending wraps things up a little too easily, but what the hell? Comedies usually have happy endings. The ending was satisfactory, but the movie in general was above average. John Ritter was a master at perfecting both drama and comedy, which is what was needed for this role. He did an amazing job, and I feel it's his finest performance, displaying his genuine charm as a comedic actor, as well as the possibly even more intriguing serious side of a conflicted, lost man. I love this movie.
My rating: 10/10
But this isn't all drama. "Skin Deep" is not only one of Blake Edwards' very best films, it is probably his most successful combination of comedy and drama to date. Edwards wants to have it both ways and it succeeds.
The film stars John Ritter as Zach Hutton, a one-time famous, best selling author who has stumbled. He is quick to blame it on writer's block, but he has other problems. He drinks excessively. He womanizes even more excessively. His wife has left him after finding him in bed with his mistress' hairdresser. (No, I'm not spoiling the film for you; Edwards makes this all clear in the first 12 minutes) Hutton then sets out on a mission to get his life in order and gain his wife back.
Right there, "Skin Deep" resembles another film, Paul Mazursky's great "Blume in Love". But Edwards takes some turns that Mazursky never even considered. Yeah, Zach wants his wife back, but does he want to change? The answer could be no, but I'm not saying yes either. As in his best films, Edwards never gives any easy answers to the questions he asks and he simply records an existence.
I've made "Skin Deep" sound awfully serious. But I want to say that "Skin Deep" is one of the funniest Edwards films I've ever seen. There are sequences here that rival the best Panther films in terms of hilarity. The house fire. The glow-in-the dark condoms. The electrical therapy sequence. The tsunami warning. His sleepover at his best friends' house, but I can't list them all. I want you to discover some as well.
A real surprise is John Ritter. Most people have written him off as Jack Tripper from his hit TV series "Three's Company", but he has developed into a fine actor with roles in "Sling Blade", "Unnatural Causes" and "Nowhere". Here, he finds the right tone for all of his scenes. He can go from comedy to drama and always be convincing. It's a brilliant performance and it was a real shame the Academy couldn't recognize it.
"Skin Deep" marked a milestone for Blake Edwards. At the time of its' release, 1989 was his 50th year in show business. I've always been an admirer of his work and it gave me great pleasure to see that he still has it in him. It is also kind of sad that Edwards followed this masterpiece with the lackluster "Switch".But at least "Son of the Pink Panther" was a good cap to a great career.
**** out of 4 stars
Of course the condom scene is an absolute classic. As well as when he is leaving the clinic after the shock therapy performed by his ex.
But my favorite scenes are near the end. When he is with his shrink and talks about wanting to kill himself. The pain and confusion he displays was worthy of an Oscar in my opinion. A brief, but wonderfully powerful scene.
John Ritter was always a favorite of mine. He seemed like the sweetest man you would ever want to meet. From what I have read about him, that was consensus from those who knew and worked with him.
I have always loved movies about redemption. And this is a great one.
I bet John is in Heaven right now, making people smile.
The movie progresses with hilarious sequences, at times slap-stick. Be sure not to miss the dialogues, for there are many instances when humour makes its presence in the most unexpected of situations. Altogether non stop entertainment is warrantied..
The post-spa sequence with a spastic John Ritter never fails to put me in grave danger of a major asthmatic attack. It is brilliant physical comedy. See it for that alone or for the pruriently curious, to see what the Amazonian "Zap" from that strange syndicated physical challenges show of several years back, looks like with her clothes off!
It may not be Edwards' best effort, but it's no where near as dreadful as others here have suggested.
there were glowing condoms for goodness sake. but most of all, John Ritter is phenomenal. The sequence after the shock therapy, is the funniest physical comedy scene I have ever seen on film.