Willie and Phil (1980)

“A woman is not allowed to come between two men who are friends. It’s not allowed! It’s illegal!”

Synopsis:
In the 1970s, two friends (Michael Ontkean and Ray Sharkey) fall in love with the same woman (Margot Kidder) while exploring alternate lifestyles.

Genres:

Review:
Paul Mazursky’s disappointing homage to Jules et Jim (1962) falls flat on every count. We never care for these three characters, nor do we particularly understand why they become friends and then lovers. As Pauline Kael writes, “Jeannette doesn’t live up to what Willie and Phil say about her, and they don’t live up to what the narrator… says about them.” Indeed, Mazursky’s annoying voiceover merely distances us further from these two-dimensional folks. Finally, the trio’s experiments with acid, free love, living off the land, and spirituality may have been a fun trip down memory road when the film was released in 1980, but have been portrayed countless times since then, and offer nothing new to our understanding of the ’70s.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A sometimes clever overview of 1970s “lifestyle” choices and spiritual searches (but done much better in many other films)

Must See?
No. This homage to Jules et Jim is a major disappointment.

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