6.5/10
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33 user 10 critic

Starting Over (1979)

A divorced man falls in love, but somehow he can't get over his ex-wife. This affects his love life in comic ways. Based on Dan Wakefield's novel.

Director:

Alan J. Pakula

Writers:

Dan Wakefield (based on the novel by), James L. Brooks (screenplay)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Reynolds ... Phil Potter
Jill Clayburgh ... Marilyn Holmberg
Candice Bergen ... Jessica Potter
Charles Durning ... Michael (Mickey) Potter
Frances Sternhagen ... Marva Potter
Austin Pendleton ... Paul
Mary Kay Place ... Marie
MacIntyre Dixon MacIntyre Dixon ... Dan Ryan
Jay O. Sanders ... Larry (as Jay Sanders)
Charles Kimbrough ... Salesman
Richard Whiting Richard Whiting ... Everett
Alfie Wise Alfie Wise ... Workshop Member
Wallace Shawn ... Workshop Member
Sturgis Warner Sturgis Warner ... John Morganson
Mary Catherine Wright Mary Catherine Wright ... Student 1 (as Mary C. Wright)
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Storyline

Burt Reynolds is an attractive middle-aged man who suffers a crisis of confidence when ditched by his ambitious singer wife (Candice Bergen), until he begins to forge a new new relationship with an equally insecure teacher (Jill Clayburgh). But when the wife attempts a reconciliation - seduction followed by a truly excruciating song she has composed for him - he realizes where his loyalty lies. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Share with someone you love a warm and wonderful romantic comedy! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 October 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Auf ein Neues See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$41,638,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Debut theatrical feature film of actor Jay O. Sanders and actress Anne De Salvo. See more »

Goofs

Moving mic shadow is visible on wall in scene where Phil meets Marie's children. See more »

Quotes

Phil Potter: If I don't touch you soon I'll go out of my mind.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sneak Previews: Take 2: Love Stories (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(1842) (uncredited)
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
In the score right before the end credits
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bright Comedy with Stellar Cast Shining in Sharp Pakula-Brooks Collaboration
8 February 2006 | by EUyeshimaSee all my reviews

Just coming off producing and writing the classic sitcoms, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Taxi", James L. Brooks wrote the screenplay, his first, for this 1979 divorce comedy. Even after all these years and finally out on DVD, it remains funny, perceptive and thoroughly engaging in a way that later crystallized into Brooks' film-making trademark in "Terms of Endearment" and "As Good As It Gets". Fortunately, the director is the accomplished Alan J. Pakula, who shows a flair for romantic comedy coaxing excellent performances from the three stars.

The plot centers on Phil Potter, a magazine writer-turned-writing teacher who has been informed by his beautiful but flaky wife Jessica that she wants a divorce. Without much recourse, he seeks solace from his bear-hugging psychiatrist brother Mickey and sister-in-law Marva, who eventually set him up on a blind date with Marilyn, a mild-mannered, rather dowdy nursery schoolteacher. The movie then becomes a clever seesaw of Phil vacillating between his wife and potential new love interest. What remains fresh about the movie is how Pakula and Brooks keep the focus on the flawed characters and less on the predictable clichés about the awkward consequences of divorce.

Even taking into account his comeback turn in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 "Boogie Nights", I doubt if Burt Reynolds has given a more subtle, genuinely humane performance than he does here. Cast completely against type (he was in his Smokey/Hooper/Sharkey action phase at the time), he makes Phil's uncertainty feel real - even at the risk of losing audience sympathy in the way he treats Marilyn no matter how inadvertently. In the afterglow of her brilliant work in Paul Mazursky's "An Unmarried Woman", Jill Clayburgh again demonstrates the malleable quality and fierce intelligence to make her deglamorized Marilyn an attractive and credibly cautious woman. In a revelation before her long, successful run as "Murphy Brown", a deadpan Candice Bergen breaks free from her heretofore vacuously decorative roles and supplies the movie's biggest laughs as the narcissistic Jessica, especially when she sings with uproariously tone-deaf panache to seduce Phil in her hotel room.

There is also a terrific supporting cast - Charles Durning bringing out all the unctuous support that Mickey can muster; a scene-stealing Frances Sternhagen as Marva, more than anxious to provide Phil emotional support when he is down and out; Austin Pendleton as a needy member of Phil's divorced men's club, who keeps remarrying his ex-wife; and Mary Kay Place in a funny cameo as Phil's aggressive first post-marital date. Other than Marilyn's unflattering outfits (the orange down jacket is hideous), Marvin Hamlisch's seventies-lite pop music is really the only significant element that dates the movie severely. The divorced men's club meeting scenes are hilarious, and you can see Jay O. Sanders and Wallace Shawn as fellow members. Unlike other romantic comedies of the period full of I'm-OK-You're-OK pop psychology, this one is still well worth viewing.


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