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Town & Country

Town and Country is less deserving of a review than it is an obituary: Born in June 1998 when production began, the film — which boldly if inaccurately billed itself as a comedy — died of critical bludgeoning and audience indifference on April 27th, 2001, the day it finally opened. Reports indicate that $90 million had been spent to bring the deceased to life onscreen. All efforts proved futile. The corpse took with it the reputations of its starry cast, including Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling, Andie MacDowell, Jenna Elfman and Nastassja Kinski. The director, Peter Chelsom — a Brit of demonstrable talent if you saw Funny Bones and Hear My Song — did not attend the funeral. Some say he had lost custody of the film to Mr. Beatty and was bitter. Mr. Beatty claimed he contributed to the film only as an actor, as if that were a pardonable offense. The screenplay is credited to Michael Laughlin and Buck Henry, though no one will say who wrote what. Understandable, since the dialogue runs thusly — Keaton to Beatty, her former offscreen love now cast as her unfaithful husband: “Your problem is your big, stupid dick.” Following the time-honored custom of saying at least one nice thing about the dead, let me salute the bravery of National Rifle Association spokes-legend Charlton Heston for sending himself up in the role of a gun-crazed maniac who threatens to shoot guys who bed his daughter, since he wants her himself. Heston, rifle in hand, brings a mad dignity to the part, but he still goes down with the ship. In lieu of flowers, please send e-mails to the studio begging that the film never be released on video. R.I.P.

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