“Two girls and three men — what do you call that?”
A car-savvy young woman (Aimee Eccles) in a contentious but committed relationship with her bumper sticker-producing boyfriend (Solomon Sturges) has an affair with a parole officer (Jeff Pomerantz), who brings his girlfriend (Victoria Vetri) into their growing sexual household. Soon Vetri meets a hunky lifeguard (Zack Taylor) who rounds out their “group marriage” by convincing a lawyer (Claudia Jennings) to join their unusual living arrangement.
Four years after the release of Paul Mazursky’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), maverick feminist director Stephanie Rothman made this much bolder exploitation comedy about the same topic: poly-amorous relationships. While Mazursky’s film was notable for introducing this timely concern to mainstream audiences in a crowd-pleasing fashion, Rothman’s variation dares to take B&C&T&A‘s concerns to the next logical step, as the group of adults in question actually carry out their desire to experiment with shifting sexual partnerships and a communal living arrangement. The script is often clunky (a pair of onlooking gay male neighbors are especially poorly handled), and the performances less-than-fine-tuned — but one nonetheless gets the sense that Rothman is genuinely concerned with exploring what a “group marriage” might look like, and what some of the obstacles might be, including (surprisingly) one member’s ultimate desire for more freedom than even such a radically-conceived “marriage” allows for. Meanwhile, it’s refreshing as always to see Rothman’s attempts to infuse her female characters with unexpected strengths and skills — gorgeous Eccles, for instance, is a whiz at fixing cars, while Jennings is a no-nonsense lawyer.
Note: Watch for the film’s most unintentionally giggle-worthy moment, as Vetri encounters Taylor on the beach for the first time.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A clever spoof of shifting sexual mores
Yes, simply to see one of Rothman’s iconic exploitation films — and as an interesting counterpoint to Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (they would make a provocative double-bill).