BAREFOOT IN THE PARK
Starring Robert Redford (Paul Bratter) & Jane Fonda (Corie Bratter)
Written by Neil Simon
Directed by Gene Saks
I would rather walk barefoot in the park across broken glass and rusty nails than watch this travesty of a movie again. It's an unfunny romantic comedy with almost no plot to it. It just gives us the basic formula with nothing new or interesting added. Boy meets girl, they separate and then get back together. Yawn! Originally, this was a Broadway play. They must have cut out all the good scenes because this movie is so bad that I wouldn't give the play a chance even if Emeril Lagasse told me how good the dinner theatre prepared their veal.
The movie starts with Paul and Corie going to a hotel for their honeymoon, where they allegedly screw for eight days straight. Now that would have been the movie to make. Their marathon session ends because Paul has to go to work. He's a new lawyer, but we only ever see him talking about preparing cases. We never see him working, and he does such a bad job negotiating with Corie throughout the movie that's it's hard to believe he'll be very good as an attorney. Corie, who is all id, still wants more of that sweet lovin', but Paul, who is superego, goes to work anyway.
Corie goes to the new apartment that she has picked out. It's on the fifth floor and there's no elevator, so we get beat over the head with the joke (?) about how exhausted everyone gets when they climb all five flights of stairs. You'd think they were attempting Mt. Everest with their gasping for breath and rubbery legs. Everyone, that is, except Corie, but since she was still wanting more after the eight-day sex-o-rama, that means she probably has more endurance than the rest of the characters or else Paul is a lousy lay.
The apartment is tiny and a bit of a dump, but it's all they can afford since Corie has no job. It's always freezing inside because there's a hole in the skylight, which lets in cold air and occasionally snow. For some inexplicable reason no one looks for the superintendent or the landlord, nor do they try to cover the hole themselves.
Enter the wacky, ethnic neighbor, Victor Velasco. I believe he's Albanian, but it doesn't really matter until they all go to an ethnic restaurant where they can order unusual food and sing foreign songs. Victor lives in the attic of the building and when he doesn't use the ladder inside the building, he uses the Bratter's apartment to gain access to the roof, which allows him to get into his apartment. Corie enjoys this man's company and his amour de la vie so much that she wants to set him up on a date with her mother.
They double date with Paul reluctantly going even though he has to work the next day. They go to the aforementioned ethnic restaurant, where they drink Ouzo and are served strange food. Guess which one dives right in and tries the food and which one is fussy and doesn't care for new things? Then there's dancing, which coincidentally, Corie joins in with Victor while Paul and his mother-in-law sit watching as the Ouzo and the food doesn't sit to well with them.
When they get home, Victor offers to take Corie's mother back to Connecticut. Paul and Corie get into a fight while brushing their teeth because he's not wild and free-spirited like her or Victor. He won't live life on the edge by doing things like, "walking barefoot in the park." Are the filmmakers kidding? This movie came out in 1967. There were anti-war and civil rights protests in the streets. The Women's Liberation movement was starting to take shape with the formation of NOW. Rolling Stone magazine premiered, helping bring the counter-culture to the mainstream. Yet Corie, the young, neurotic nymphomaniac, thinks going barefoot is an example of carpe diem? Corie screams that she wants a divorce and Paul says he will grant her one.
The next morning Paul heads to work. Corie calls her mother, but she never arrived at home her aunt tells her. Corie can't find her mother or Victor and begins to worry about them. When Paul returns, he packs his things, including a bottle of Scotch, and leaves. He has nowhere to go so he ends up in the park. Can you see where it's heading?
Anyway, I'm going to wrap this up quick like the writer did because I've spent way too much time with this movie. Corie finds that Mother never left the building. Victor fell down the stairs and broke his foot so Mother spent the night in his apartment. We are given hints then denials so we never really know if they got together, nor do we care. Victor's injury has an effect on Corie. She rethinks what can happen when you're always on the edge and goes looking for Paul. For no apparent reason, she wisely chooses the park where she finds Paul drunk and, you guessed it, barefoot. She takes him home. With the metaphor seeming to be met and the couple now back together, you would think we would mercifully get to the credits, but no, they have one more metaphor to act out. Drunken Paul goes out to the building ledge of their apartment, almost falls and Corie pulls him back in. So again we get to see that they have become one, incorporating parts of the other into their beings. Two people, one couple, yin yang.
Someone should have told Gene Saks that he was directing a movie and not a play because the apartment is shot as if the camera were in the audience of a theatre. It's so visually boring that it could easily have been a radio broadcast. With the accomplished work of all four of the main participants, it's amazing that their combined forces put out this garbage. I had such high hopes. Don't rent this movie or watch it on TV. A walk in the park, barefoot or not, would be a better use of your time. I can't understand how the AFI listed this as one of their top 100 romances. Do not trust that list.