I’ve seen thousands of films in my life, and sadly I realize there are thousands more that I haven’t seen. So, in an effort to cure myself of the films I’ve missed, I present “Jerry’s First Time,” a series in which I choose one well-known film that, for whatever reason, just passed me by. For the very first “Jerry’s First Time” I have selected a film that came out when I was far too young to understand what on Earth my parents were laughing at in the other room (Hint: I’ve seen it and I still don’t know).
Long story short: It’s about 46 year-old Dudley Moore obsessing over 23 year-old Bo Derek (and, yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds.)
How did I miss this one?: My parents went to see this in a theater and, as stated above, later watched it on television after I had been sent to bed. I promised myself I would catch up with it sooner or later. I heard about it, I knew there were scads of nudity in it, mainly on the part of Bo Derek (she was hot back then) and all the adults were telling each other how incredibly funny it was. When I grew up, I sort of avoided it because I never really developed much of an appetite for the films of Blake Edwards – at least the ones outside of The Pink Panther series. His films always seemed to be about middle aged people dealing with an over-inflated libido and that always repulsed me. So . . .
How was the movie?: Eh.
This is kind of an odd picture for me. Dudley Moore plays George Webber, a wealthy musician with four Oscars, a big house, a Mercedes and a loving wife played by Julie Andrews. As the movie opens he’s just turned 42, but if I did the math correctly, Moore was actually 44 at the time the movie was made (actually he looks like he’s in his mid-50s). I’m 45 so watching the story of “42 year-old” Dudley feeling the pangs and woes of his age and obsessively pursuing nubile young Bo Derek is a real-life mindbender that even M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t conceive.
Anyhoo, George Webber has everything in the world, so naturally he’s lonely and unsatisfied. Out driving in his Mercedes to clear his head (read that sentence again slowly) he stops at a traffic light and, over in the next car, he spots a vision in a wedding dress (that would be Bo). George follows her wedding party into the chapel and, while gawking at her, is stung by a bee that was hiding in a floral arrangement. I actually laughed at that moment but it wasn’t quite as surprising as the revelation that Bo’s is about to marry Flash Gordon. I’m not kidding, her new husband is played by Sam Jones! Surprise, Surprise, he has about as much personality in this film as he did in that one.
So, basically the rest of the movie sees George going through outrageous slapstick circumstances all in the name of pursuing this gorgeous young woman. While visiting the dentist George discovers that his DDS is Bo’s father (her name is actually Jenny) and he gets the exciting information that she’s on her honeymoon in Mexico. What’s not so exciting is that the dentist has discovered that George has six cavities and wants to drill and fill right then and there. That leads to a bizarre scene in which George goes home and gets drunk and can’t talk, first because of the effects of the Novocain and second because of the effects of the alcohol that he unwisely guzzles. What follows is a long and aggravating scene in which his wife keeps calling but he can’t talk to her. She calls the cops and they come by but he can’t talk to them either.
Forgetting all good sense – plus the fact that he has a loving wife – George heads down to Mexico because . . . . well, I’m not really sure why. Why is he following Bo outside of her looks? It’s not established that he knows her, and so what does he plan to do if he gets close to her? Even if he does meet her, she’s married and so sex is out of the question. Common sense is not in the repertoire here.
Anyway, in a fantasy fit for porn, George goes to Mexico and ends up on the exact same beach that Bo and Flash Gordon are visiting. Flash goes surfing and falls asleep on his board and George sails out to rescue him. While the Savoir of the Universe is convalescing in the hospital, George visits Bo’s hotel room. Whaddaya know! She’s attracted to him! Because . . . . of course she is! She smokes grass, gets naked and puts on Revel’s “Bolero” which George has to keep starting over while they are trying to get the sex going. Did I mention they’re both married?
Then . . . something unexpected happens.
Flash Gordon calls from the hospital and Bo informs him that George is there – she’s not shy about what they’re doing. When he confronts her about this, she says that she’s in an open marriage and only got married because her father pressured her to do so. George, realizing that this apparent dream woman is a complete flake, comes to his senses and goes home to his wife. That’s the good part. I love that the reality of the situation comes crashing down on George’s head, yet I’m forced to ask why he didn’t come to that conclusion before he GOT TO HER BED!?!
Anyway, George realizes his mistake, goes home and has sex with Mary Poppins on the kitchen floor.
Ultimately: I heard my parents laughing at this movie all those years ago but seeing the movie now I can’t really figure out why. I laughed once and I smiled twice. I was unnerved by the idea that a man who is only 42 would be having mid-life problems when he is wealthy, healthy and married to the Practically Perfect Julie Andrews. Yet, this entire plot made me feel a bit uneasy. It’s creepy and not in a good way. Sure Bo Derek is (was) a knock-out but she’s nothing to destroy your life over. I’ve never understood these movies where middle-aged men see the end of their sexual prowess and begin trying to sew their wild oats. Maybe they need more fiber in their diet, or a cold shower.