BIG BUSINESS (1988)

bigbusiness

 

Directed By: Jim Abrahams
Written By: Dori Pierson & Marc Rubel
Cinematography By: Dean Cundey
Editor: Harry Keramidas 


Cast: Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Fred Ward, Edward Herrmann, Barry Primus, Michael Gross, Mary Gross, Seth Green, Deborah Rush, Joe Grifasi, John Vickery, J.C. Quinn, Patricia Gaul 


In the 1940s in the small town of Jupiter Hollow, two sets of identical twins are born in the same hospital on the same night. One set to a poor local family and the other to a rich family just passing through. The dizzy nurse on duty accidentally mixes the twins unbeknown to the parents. Our story flashes forward to the 1980s where the mismatched sets of twins are about to cross paths following a big business deal to close down the Jupiter Hollow factory.

This is a film that is rather a guilty pleasure. As it is a film I watched constantly when I was a kid. Mainly because even then i  was a huge fan of Bette milder and her screen persona. So much so I have seen this film more times than is probably necessary.

This film if anything is more of a farce it feels like one of those grand comedies of the 1950’s. Though also so 1980’s in style and presentation. The attraction like it would be back then is to see two stars play double roles. There is even one song and dance number that feels like a throwback or helps to make the film feel more like a production that could be stage ready. As the film already mainly takes place in One location, the hotel. THE PLAZA HOTEL

The film relies on basic sitcom plotting having twins switched at birth. Come to the big city and keep getting mistaken for the other. Plenty of misunderstandings and hijinks follow.

The film is a grand old time. Now I beloved it would be more entertaining to children or anyone who is a fan of musical theater with a lot less music. Though there are some risqué moments the film for the most part is clean.

The film offers it’s Leads a chance to play to their strengths in different personalities. Bette milder gets to play overbearing, bitchy and snobbish in one personae and a wanna be bumpkin who dreams of the wonders and beauty of the big city

Lily Tomlin get to play the nebbish with a heart of gold bullied by her sister and an overbearing, loud southerner who offers her opinion even when not asked.

They are both great in the film making their presence felt and getting to play to their strengths. Even if the material isn’t top notch. Though it is two comic superstars teaming up, sharing the screen and obviously enjoying themselves. Originally the film was written to star Barbara Streisand and Goldie Hawn.

The structure of the film was based loosely on “The Comedy of Errors” By William Shakespeare

This is obviously a film where at the time the material wasn’t that strong but was more built on high concept and pairing the right stars together so that this would be more of a star extravaganza.

One aspect that affected me as a youth was that this was probably the first depiction of a gay couple on screen that I can remember. Which helped me as I grew to never think of someone’s sexuality being a big deal. Not to mention was shocking at first but seeing how the film plays it off more subtle and simple it was a revelation.

The production company couldn’t get the rights to film at the actual Plaza Hotel in New York, so it had it recreated on sound stages. To recoup construction costs, Disney built a sitcom around it, THE NUTT HOUSE. It was an expensive flop.

This film was one of the middle to late 1980’s movies made by Disney that was made more for a grown-up audience under the studios TOUCHSTONE pictures name.

Grade: C

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