Saturday, October 6, 2012

One to the Groin: "One from the Heart" (1982)

Teri Garr and Frederic Forrest are two everyday Joes who live together and are having relationship difficulties.

Garr works in a travel agency, wishing she could visit the places she sends others to. Forrest works at a wrecking yard, salvaging old neon signs and creating a little piece of heaven in the back of the garage. Garr and Forrest call it quits, and Garr meets Raul Julia, a waiter/wannabe singer who wants to go to all those places Garr dreams about. Forrest meets circus girl Nastassia Kinski, who loves his little playland behind the garage, and also wants to run away with him. These new couples all bed down together, and Garr prepares to go to Bora Bora with Julia. Kinski leaves Forrest, who chases Garr, trying to stop her from getting on the plane. Eventually, the two (Garr and Forrest) end up back together with a new found love for each other...I just saved you a dollar video rental fee, and about an hour and three quarters of your life.

I cannot describe to you how dull this film is. It took me two days to plow through it. Garr and Forrest are terrible. They have a few moments of drama that play like a bad episode of "My So Called Life," and their attempts at screwball comedy are so unfunny, I cringed in agony. Raul Julia is okay, but I realized how much I missed this underrated actor in better films. Kinski is there and gone so quickly, I did not know why she was listed so highly in the credits. She warns Forrest that she will disappear if he does not stay with her. In her exit scene, he walks away from her standing by a car, and in the background you can see her head as she ducks behind the car. Forrest turns around and she is "magically" gone. Some dramatic exit.

Coppola, for reasons known only to him, decided to recreate the Las Vegas strip on a soundstage. The first credit at the end of the film reads something to the effect: "This entire film was shot on the stages of Zoetrope Studios." Really? Wow, I guess the constant spotting of the edges of the backscreen in the exterior scenes was not a bold cinematic statement, but sloppy direction. In one awful mistake, as the camera looks up at Forrest, you can see the actual ceiling of the giant building they recreated this massive set in.

Teri Garr, an actress I just cannot stand for reasons I will not go into, does the same performance she always does. This time, Coppola puts her through THREE different scenes where she changes clothes, just for the gratuitous nudity. Garr and Forrest are supposed to be playing average folks like you and me, but if this is what Coppola thinks the rest of America is really like, he needs to get away from Hollywood. Lainie Kazan and Harry Dean Stanton are dragged out in the thankless roles of Garr and Forrest's best friends. Hmm, that's something new in a romantic comedy.

Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle sing all the songs on the soundtrack. The songs are okay, they just do not belong in this film. Coppola pulls all the tricks out of his magic movie fun bag, and each one fizzles. Average special effects seem thrown in because the budget was huge, not because a scene demanded it.

Scenes run too long, have no point, and you can almost hear Coppola in the background whispering "all of this was shot on the stages of Zoetrope Studios." "One from the Heart" should have stayed there. (*) out of five stars.