Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sweet Liberty (1986)

Michael Caine Movie #3 (Ok, it’s really an Alan Alda movie, but Caine has a big role) 

Synopsis: Sensitive historian decides to sabotage film crew even though: a) they paid him to use his book, b) he’s now a local celebrity and everyone wants to kiss his ass, and c) he gets the opportunity to bang a cute Hollywood actress who looks a lot like Michelle Pfeiffer.  

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “It’s Alan Alda versus Hollywood in the writer-director-star’s hilarious comedy about moviemaking. As college history professor Michael Burgess, Alda’s life and town are turned upside down when a film company arrives to make a movie out of his best-selling book on the American Revolution. To Professor Burgess’ horror, leading man Michael Caine is a philandering adventurer; the movie’s director wants to turn his historic novel into a youth-oriented lusty romp and female star Michelle Pfeiffer is so obsessed by Alda’s heroine, he begins to fall in love with the zany actress.” 

What Did I Learn?:  Teenagers are the only people who see movies, and they demand that movie characters: a) defy authority, b) destroy property, and c) take off their clothes. 

Really?: 1) You know, I’m pretty sure you can’t take a US Army helicopter for a joyride without facing some sort of criminal charges afterwards. 2) See: “Synopsis”. Gee, Burgess almost single-handedly ruins a major scene in the film. Funny how nobody mentions the possibility of the studio launching a lawsuit. 

Rating: Sweet Liberty is a charming, and cleverly-written comedy that unfortunately runs out of steam mid-way through, and doesn’t really go anywhere. The film’s sub-plot about Burgess’ senile mother seems tacked-on, and any tension between Burgess and Elliott James (Caine) is quickly defused when it’s clear that the actor doesn’t have designs on the professor’s somewhat-estranged girlfriend. Sweet Liberty is an ok film with an amazing cast (I quite liked Bob Hoskins' performance as the street-smart screenwriter), but the script should have gone through a major re-write. 6.5/10 stars.

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