(director: Burt Reynolds; screenwriter: Jerry Belson; cinematographer: Bobby Byrne; editor: Donn Cambern; music: Paul Williams; cast: Burt Reynolds (Wendell Sonny Lawson), Sally Field (Mary Ellen), Dom DeLuise (Marlon Borunki), Strother Martin (Dr Waldo Kling, head of the sanatorium), David Steinberg (Marty Lieberman), Joanne Woodward (Jessica), Myrna Loy (Momma Lawson), Pat O’Brien (Poppa Lawson), Kristy McNichol(Julie Lawson), Robby Benson (Priest), Carl Reiner (Dr Maneet), Norman Fell (Dr Samuel Krugman), Harry Caesar (Hospital Orderly); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lawrence Gordon; MGM; 1978)
“The madcap fun doesn’t kick in until Dom DeLuise shows up as the energized wacko Polish inmate in the same loony bin as Burt Reynolds.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Actor Burt Reynolds(“Sharkey’s Machine”/”Gator”) turns to directing this modest but tasteless slapstick black comedy, in which he also stars and sports a beard. Writer Jerry Belson pens an uneven screenplay. The madcap fun doesn’t kick in until Dom DeLuise shows up as the energized wacko Polish inmate in the same loony bin as Burt Reynolds. When the selfish real estate hustler Wendell Lawson (Burt Reynolds) learns from his doctor (Norman Fell) he has only a year to live from his toxic blood disease, he plans on committing suicide before he starts deteriorating. He confesses to a young priest (Robby Benson) about his mass adultery and selling property that’s not as advertised. Lawson also tells his zany girlfriend Mary Ellen (Sally Field), his harried ex-wife Jessica (Joanne Woodward), his self-absorbed argumentative parents (Myrna Loy & Pat O’Brien), and joyful teenage daughter Julie (Kristy McNichol) of his plans, or at least tries telling them. But his sleeping pills and milk plan fails and he lands in a mental hospital. There he’s befriended by the hilarious genial patricide inmate Marlon Borunki (Dom DeLuise), who tries to help his new friend kill himself. These suicide attempts would have been funnier if Burt was more primed for comedy. Carl Reiner has a funny shtick as a death therapist at the sanatorium. While the comic talent of David Steinberg is wasted on his unfunny trivial role as a conniving lawyer. Though flawed, I got enough laughs out of it to say I enjoyed it.
REVIEWED ON 7/14/2016 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/