Town & Country [2001]

Genre: Comedy, Romance
Released two years later than originally scheduled, Town & Country was plagued by the kind of negative buzz that few movies recover from. Like the infamous Ishtar, this Warren Beatty-led ensemble comedy is ungainly and erratic, but when it's funny it's quite funny, and the involvement of cowriter Buck Henry makes it a lot smarter than most of what passes for wit in postmillennial comedy. An updated sex farce fueled by modern-day foibles, the movie's also an apologetic valentine from notorious womanizers like Beatty, who, as wealthy Manhattan architect Porter Stoddard, is paying the price for his dalliance with a sexy cellist (Nastassja Kinski). While Porter's wife (Diane Keaton) fumes with suspicion, their best friends Mona (Goldie Hawn) and Griffin (Garry Shandling) wage their own marital warfare after Mona spies Griffin with a gorgeous redhead. Mona shouldn't believe what she sees, but she still has cause to worry. Porter also has a fling with a ski-bunny psycho (Andie MacDowell) with an obsessively protective father (Charlton Heston), and a store clerk (Jenna Elfman) with a thing for Russian literature. It all leads to comedic acts of contrition, but too many gags are strained or flat; lacking knowledge of its troubled history, you'd still think Town & Country was a puzzle with missing pieces. And yet, these veteran stars somehow pull it together just enough to make it work, and with the stammering Shandling as a standout, the movie boasts a few noteworthy highlights. Heston's a riot (believe it or not), and although Town & Country doesn't fire on all pistons, it's got enough horsepower to suggest it could've been a contender. --Jeff Shannon

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