By EW Staff
Updated March 24, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST
Advertisement

Exit to Eden

type
  • Movie

Most movie connoisseurs would heartily concur with the notion that Hollywood doesn’t produce nearly as many great or even entertaining movies as it did in its so-called Golden Age. Still, for all the sad predictability of its storytelling and its slavish obedience to market research, Hollywood is still where most of the world turns for much of its diversion. Which is why it’s sometimes satisfying when Tinseltown proffers films that can only inspire the stunned reaction ”What on earth could they have possibly been thinking?” To those who argue that such schadenfreude hardly constitutes a reason for checking out a movie, I ask, ”What’s kept you interested in Chevy Chase’s career for the past 10 years?” Fortunately for Chase, he’s not connected with the two mind-bogglers just hitting video stores, the kinky sex- themed Exit to Eden (1994, HBO, R, priced for rental) and the Saturday Night Live spin-off It’s Pat: the movie (1994, Touchstone, PG-13, priced for rental). Novelist Anne Rice, whose plaints about and praise for the film version of her Interview With the Vampire have been well documented, didn’t say much about how Exit to Eden, her 1985 erotic novel, suffered at the hands of populist director Garry Marshall. Maybe Eden isn’t as close to her heart as Interview, or perhaps she knew better than to call attention to the fact that she had anything to do with it. Screenwriters Bob Brunner (like Marshall, a Happy Days alumnus, and thus a perfect person to plumb the phenomena of sadomasochism) and Deborah Amelon aren’t content to tell the story of a man (Paul Mercurio) whose predilection for getting spanked leads him to a swanky isle where such kinks are indulged. Since the way he melts the heart of a dominatrix (Dana Delany) just isn’t zingy enough, they add a dopey comic crime subplot featuring undercover cops Dan Aykroyd (prudish) and Rosie O’Donnell (smirkily bemused). Aykroyd, whose character is reputed to be surprisingly well-endowed, looks bored, and O’Donnell basically does a variation of her (unfunny) stand-up routine. Eden’s biggest laugh is unintentional. In a flashback, Delany receives her first lessons in the art of domination. The scene unfolds like something out of The Story of O: As the accoutrements of the trade lay waiting to be applied, she trembles in anticipation of meeting her sexual instructor, who turns out to be Hector Elizondo? It’s Pat is clearly the product of hipper sensibilities (Quentin Tarantino even had a hand in the rewrites), but that’s little help. The movie is a grisly demonstration of what happens when hubris is mistaken for common sense. (Was Wayne’s World such a big hit that producers concluded that any half-a- joke concept-in this case, the exploits of an obnoxious doughball of indeterminate gender-could support a feature film?) Sadly, It’s Pat wastes a lot of fresh talent-Julia Sweeney, who plays Pat, has been known to be funny, and David Foley, a former Kid in the Hall in the luckless role of Pat’s androgynous betrothed, has been funnier still. Actually, Foley’s the only one who escapes without embarrassment, admittedly not much of an accomplishment when your costars include the likes of Charles Rocket. But Foley’s not enough to keep most viewers from wanting to hide under their couches as Sweeney goes from one ”wacky” situation to another -getting fired from the Post Office, sitting in on accordion with snotty rock band Ween, and fending off the advances of an obsessive neighbor. All this is tethered to the is-it-a- boy-or-a-girl question, the definitive answer to which is, who cares? It’s Pat is the film debut of music video director Adam Bernstein, whose stylistic flourishes were being copied by Hollywood types when he was still making clips for They Might Be Giants and Public Enemy. So when Bernstein trots out a few of them here-road signs reading ”Later That Day” as scene transitions, for instance-it seems like he’s paying homage to So I Married an Axe Murderer director Thomas Schlamme. The upshot will probably be that Bernstein, who deserves another shot, will have a hell of a time getting one, while the well established Marshall is no doubt already concocting a less risky project. After all, his Pretty Woman made almost enough to bail out the Barings bank. The only consolation resentful connoisseurs have is that Eden will remain on his permanent record. Both movies: D-

Exit to Eden

type
  • Movie
mpaa
director
  • Gary Marshall

Comments