Comedy thriller starring
Shelley Long and Bette Midler as rival acting students who discover
they have been sharing the same mysterious lover. With Peter Coyote.
Stars: Shelley Long, Bette Midler, Peter Coyote, Robert Prosky
Director: Arthur Hiller
plot here has been played out hundreds of times (and often better) in other films.
Sandy (Bette Midler)
and Lauren (Shelley Long) are both in love with the perfect man (Peter Coyote).
They vie with each other for his attentions, employing all the catty and petty
devices that are supposed to pass for comedy. But the battle for his attentions
evaporates when the ladies learn their dreamboat has simply vanished, and they
embark upon a quest to find him. The film is mostly one long cliche borrowed from
comedy spy plots. Long is wholly ineffective, while Midler provides most of the
laughs, which come in bits and pieces. Arthur Hiller's pedestrian direction doesn't
help much as he jumps from one set-piece scene to another without bothering to
cover the gaping holes in a threadbare script. George Carlin, a befuddled hippie
leftover from the last generation wandering about the New Mexico desert in search
of a guru, gets some genuine laughs, but even this small role wears thin quickly.
OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE is an effort on the part of Disney to prove it can distribute
adult films, but it only shows that it has no real perception of what such pictures
are all about.
Fortune is well crafted, old-fashioned entertainment that takes some conventional
elements, shines them up and repackages them as something new and contemporary.
It's a traditional male buddy film that has substituted women and the main plot
device is that the two heroines are sleeping with the same man. Bette Midler and
Shelley Long collide even before their affections do in an acting class given
by the eminent Russian director Stanislov Korenowski (Robert Prosky). Long is
a wealthy, spoiled dilettante while Midler last starred in Ninja Vixens. When
the audience learns they're sharing the same man (Peter Coyote) before they do,
it's a delicious moment complete with one image-shattering sight gag.
The film takes off as a chase picture with the girls following Coyote to New Mexico
to demand a decision. They're not the only ones looking for him. It seems the
CIA is hot on his trail as is the KGB. To top things off, it turns out Korenowski
is a Russian agent first and a director second.
Even when Leslie Dixon's
script sags and becomes a bit repetitious in the long New Mexico chase section,
Midler and Long are never less than fun to watch.
a recent interview in the New York Times, Leslie Dixon, the author of the screenplay
Fortune," revealed some of the secrets of being a successful writer for the
movies. You have to read a lot of successful screenplays, she said, and be familiar
with what's out there, what's selling at the studios. On the basis of this movie,
she has done her job well: "Outrageous Fortune" is a combination of
comedy and chase, billed by the producers as "the first genuine female buddy
the movie is so busy cross-polinating its genres that it never pauses for the
kind of thought that might have made it really special, instead of just fitfully
funny. This is a movie that has its commercial concept written all over it; it's
so painstakingly crafted as a product that the messy spontaneity of life is rarely
allowed to interrupt.
film stars Bette Midler and Shelley Long as two acting students who discover they're
both having an affair with the same fellow student. Midler plays a brassy, vulgar
veteran of movies with names such as "Ninja Vixens," and Long is a Yale
graduate who has deep ideas about Art. The man they have in common is played by
Peter Coyote as a slick, mysterious romeo who turns out, alas, to be involved
say "alas" because this movie goes wrong the moment it introduces its
counterspy plot. You can almost hear the standard cliches slamming into place.
Midler and Long discover that their drama teacher (Robert Prosky) is a spy, that
Coyote is in the class to spy on him, that there are people who want to kill them,
and that it's up to them to chase all over the West and endure untold physical
risks until the mystery is solved.
away the specific details, and this is the same premise that sabotaged "Jumpin'
Jack Flash," another "genuine" female action comedy. The screenplay
gets so wound up with the action that there's no time to explore the characters
or let them be funny on their own terms. Midler has some very funny moments in
"Outrageous Fortune," but they're inspired by the personality she brings
to the movie, not the one that Dixon's screenplay supplies for her. Long, who
doesn't come packaged with a pre-existing comic persona, seems adrift most of
advice to Dixon would be: After you've studied all those screenplays, ask yourself
what's wrong with them, and you're likely to discover that they all begin with
interesting characters and then march relentlessly into a series of cliches involving
the CIA, the Russians, car chases, sinister plots and colorful locations. Truly
funny movies (here I include Midler's last two films, "Down and Out in Beverly
Hills" and "Ruthless People") settle down in one location and explore
their characters, finding humor in human nature instead of in a lot of expensive
Fortune" has a climax that must have been expensive and dangerous to film,
but it's a waste of time. The plot requires Long to leap from one towering desert
rock formation to another, while she's chased by the bad guys. The whole sequence
breaks down for two reasons: (1) The stunt is so dangerous that it distracts from
any latent comedy, and (2) we're so busy trying to spot when they're using the
stunt doubles that we lose any remaining interest in the plot.
hard-cursing but outrageously funny comedy-thriller with Shelley Long and Bette
Midler working wonderfully
well together as aspiring actresses duped by Romeo teacher Peter Coyote who turns
out to be an international double-agent. Forget the plot, though, and savour some
very funny dialogue mostly delivered by Midler as a bit-part film player who has
just appeared in a movie called Ninja Vixens and now horrifies high-minded Shakespearian
Long by enrolling in the same acting class. At first dismissive of Midler's relationship
with Coyote and protective of her own - 'Not the kind you're used to. No money
changed hands' - Long soon jumps figuratively into bed with her rival to set off
in pursuit of the wily Coyote. You can forecast the finale, but the film remains
fun to the very end. I laughed like a drain.