“I married a grouch!”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Indeed, it’s deeply discomfiting to find oneself laughing at Grodin’s bald-faced deceit towards his hapless wife, who becomes trapped in the ultimate living nightmare during what should be the happiest time of her life. Nonetheless, the film is so full of “hilarious, sharply satirical scenes” — Berlin irritating Grodin by drawing circles on his chest; Berlin smearing egg salad all over her face; Grodin waxing enthusiastic about the humble pleasures of midwestern food — that we can’t help remaining glued to the screen, curious to know what will happen next to our determined anti-hero. Deftly directed by May, and wonderfully acted by the “superb cast” — including Jeannie Berlin in what should have been a career-defining role (what happened?), Eddie Albert in a priceless performance as Kelly’s WASPy father (who solemnly asserts he wouldn’t approve of Grodin “if you tied me to a horse and dragged me forty miles by my tongue”), and Audra Lindley as Kelly’s “easily impressed mother” (watch her quietly hilarious silent reactions).
Note: The parallels between this and May’s feature debut, A New Leaf (1971), are startlingly clear: Grodin’s Lenny Cantrow and Walter Matthau’s Henry Graham are both arrogant, self-centered men who make life miserable for their new wives (Jeannie Berlin and Elaine May, respectively) — both of whom are sloppy, mildly irritating, but ultimately utterly endearing to audiences. Knowing Berlin is May’s real-life daughter makes the parallels even eerier.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: