Alan Alda worked himself away from the popular TV series "M*A*S*H" cautiously and nimbly, first as an actor in "Same Time, Next Year" and "California Suite", then as an actor-writer with "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" and eventually with his smoothest film to date, "The Four Seasons", where he was writer, director and star. 1988's "A New Life" seems to take him right back to television, with a sitcom script and one-dimensional characters. Alda and Ann-Margret are New York marrieds who decide to divorce and seek out other partners, finding themselves out of step with the modern singles-scene. Ann-Margret (sporting a big poof 'do that was way too big even for the '80's) is an attractive presence, and it seems natural for her to be drawn to John Shea (who could be Alda's younger brother), but the other players look lost in their roles, and Alda as a writer has only obvious points to make. It's all a comedic sham; plastic, unrealistic and relentlessly mediocre. *1/2 from ****
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