June 7, 1988
If it’s been a while since you’ve laughed until it hurt, then go prepared for some pain during “Big Business.”
This laugh-a-minute farce â€” starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin as identical twin sisters who are accidently mismatched at birth â€” will keep even the most sour cynic in stitches as it blends slapstick routines, onelinersÂ and mistaken identities into a remarkably hilarious cinematic concoction
The two stars steal the show as they cunningly play off their own personalities in dual roles, with Midler as a tough city slicker and a country girl who dreams of oÂ£iiig cL CiLjr SitCjiGr cLTiu. A. GIi*xIiA as a feisty, eccentric country woman and an unhappy city woman who dreams of a quiet country life The two stars prove to be a cinematic dream team, a pair of extremely gifted stars whose strikingly different styles beautifully complement each other
Especially impressive is Tomlin, who provides her characters with some wildly creative quirky bits, particularly a sidesplitting “snake” motion which befuddles intimidating people. Midler merely does a variation of the bossy characters she portrayed in “Ruthless People” and “Outrageous Fortune,” though she’s still a joy in the role.
As “Big Business” opens, the identical twin daughters of a meek rural family â€” the Ratliffs â€” are mistakenly mixed with identical twin daughters of a wealthy New York couple â€” the Sheltons â€” at the out-of-the-way Hollowmade Furniture Company Hospital. The situation becomes even more complicated when the couples give the girls the same
first names, Rose (Tomlin) and Sadie (Midler).
More than three decades later, their fates intertwine when Rose Shelton, the CEO of the powerful New York conglomerate Moramax, plans to earn a profit by destroying, the West Virginia town of Jupiter Hollow via a hostileÂ takeover which will bankrupt the Hollowmade Furniture Company The company’s dedicated savior, Rose Ratliff, vows to visit Manhattan and challenge the stockholders to save the furniture company, which employs virtually everyone in the town
Once the country Rose and Sadie arrive in New York, they’re immediately mistaken for the powerful Shelton sisters and given a luxurious suite at the famed Plaza Hotel The country Rose thinks it’s all a plot to fool them into a sense of false confidence, the country Sadie thinks it’s a dream come true, as she’s suddenly besieged by suitors and allowed to sign for anything at the hotel.
^/To,,-, .,.1,;lD H,^ -,,!-â€” O ~ n 1 .14. V~&l*ilt*^Â»^- , b*4\ ~ ^J * I* J ^ V V* O V ,who’s described as a “bloodsucker,” and the city Sadie, a meek soul -who wears a “Save the Whales” button, think everyone around them â€” from a hotel desk manager (Joe Grifasi), who flirts with the willing poor Rose and then gets slapped by theÂ snobbish rich Rose, to two gay Moramax executives (Edward Herrmann and Daniel Gerroll) â€” has gone totally bonkers
The plot becomes little more than a complicated game of mistaken identities, but the silly situation provides absolutely hilarious entertainment
Thanks to director Jim Abrahams (who previously helmed “Airplane!” and “Ruthless People” with his two partners, David and Jerry Zucker, and makes his solo debut here), “Big Business” moves along quicker than a bob sled on an cy mountain Employing a quick cutting stjle, Abrahams never wastes a minute and, like Preston Sturges, quite creatively uses a gifted supporting cast â€” which includes scenestealing Fred Ward as the poor Rose’s country-bred boyfriend who braves the terrors of 42nd Street to aid his girlfriend and Michael Gross of “Family Ties” as the rich Rose’s well-meaning but blundering boyfriend â€” to its full advantage.
Capturing the flavor of “Big Business” in a review is impossible.
The film demands that viewers allow themselves to be carried away by its silly plot and hen rewards that suspension of critical thinking by providing more funny moments than any film in recent memory Here’s the bottom line. Get a ticket for “Big Business” and have a ball
Those who don’t laugh should be immediately transported to the nearest morgue.