The Movie Scene
Worst enemies become best friends, yes “Outrageous Fortune” is a buddy movie, but a buddy movie which when it was released in the 80s had a USP. That USP was that the buddies were two women, which may not sound such a huge USP but most buddy movies prior to “Outrageous Fortune” had always been about two men. But whilst it had this slightly different angle “Outrageous Fortune” is actually a very straightforward buddy movie with two women who don’t get on, hitting the road together where they have to help each other out whilst avoiding bad guys and solving a mystery. And to be honest it is a shame as for the first 20 minutes “Outrageous Fortune” is fun especially with Bette Midler and Shelley Long working well together as opposites who don’t get on but after that it becomes routine and at times a little dull
Having spent years training to become an actress Lauren (Shelley Long – The Money Pit) doesn’t get along with Sandy (Bette Midler – Then She Found Me) who has made her name in a few dodgy movies but they find themselves in the same acting class. What they don’t know is that they are also sharing the same lover Michael Sanders (Peter Coyote – E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) that is until he fakes his own death and tries to disappear. Now having learnt that they were both seeing the same guy, Lauren and Sandy find themselves working together to try and track him down, travelling across America hot on his trail. But they are not the only ones interested in Michael and find themselves in danger as they close in on him.
Ignoring the fact that “Outrageous Fortune” is about two women for the moment and for the most the storyline follows the path of many a buddy movie. We initially get the set up of Lauren and Sandy not get along which is made worse when they discover that they’ve both been seeing the same man. And then it falls into that formula territory as despite their initial dislike of each other end up having to join forces as they blag their away across country trying to discover the truth about the man they loved as they learn he faked his death. To make it more routine there are Russians and CIA involved who are trailing them to get to the man they are trailing. That probably sounds a little more complex that in it is because frankly “Outrageous Fortune” is plain sailing and similar to many other 80s buddy movies.
But the thing which makes “Outrageous Fortune” different is that it is two women who are the buddies which don’t get on and it is because of this that it actually ends up quite entertaining. Now the characters they play may not be that well defined but Bette Midler and Shelley Long deliver fun performances. Midler is wonderfully brash as Sandy, fast talking her way in and out of trouble with many a great one liner whilst Shelley Long has that element of being up her self as Lauren as she takes herself too seriously. They work surprisingly well together and whilst the comic timing may not always work the sparky banter does provide plenty of amusement especially as half the time it looks like Midler and Wrong were in battle to out do each other.
But beyond Midler and Long there are few performances which make anywhere close to an impression. Peter Coyote as the love rat seems to be going through the motions as does Anthony Heald and Robert Prosky. And whilst George Carlin is funny as Frank Madras the reservation resident they meet it’s not really that memorable.
Aside from all this it has to be said that “Outrageous Fortune” has some surprisingly good action sequences. The death scene as Michael disappears into a flower shop and then it explodes is surprisingly good as is a scene which sees Lauren using her ballet skills to avoid being captured by a pursuer. In what is really just a comedy these action moments stand out as do a couple of darker moments of humour such as the morgue scene where Sandy and Lauren realise it’s not Michael they are looking at because the dead body’s penis is too small.
What this all boils down to is that “Outrageous Fortune” is a fun movie, it has some nice one liners and imaginative scenes but get beyond the fact that this is a buddy movie with women and it is all very routine. It’s almost a case that you are not really interested in the storyline, who is a good guy and who is a bad guy and just enjoy the comedy of Bette Midler and Shelley Long being the chalk n cheese friends.