Theme Song: Surprisingly, none. This movie was ripe for a mid-80s Joni Mitchell/Jackson Browne collaboration, but alas, just violins.
Interesting Dated References: The desire of the American people to see the hyper-skinny Mary Tyler Moore in an aerobic leotard; Ted Danson as sex symbol sans sense of humor.
Best Line: Lots and lots of lady-on-lady talk about being unfulfilled by career and marriage.
Social Context: After the massive success of Ordinary People, The Big Chill, and the James L. Brooks-directed Terms of Endearment, Hollywood was scrambling to find more overlong scripts about unhappy caucasians and their interpersonal relationships. So a few producers decided to throw money at Allan Burns, (Brooks’ co-creator on The Mary Tyler Moore Show) to see what would happen.
Summary: Feeling mildly lonely and neglected around her family, housewife Holly Davis (Mary Tyler Moore) starts teaching an aerobics class in the city. America’s Sweetheart and diabetes aside, the sight of a gaunt Moore in her leotard is fairly disturbing.
During the class she meets sassy news reporter Sandy Dunlap (Christine Lahti, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains). They share an evening of ice cream and unhappiness, discussing their incredible ability to project their own shortfalls onto significant others. Holly encourages the aging Sandy to have kids with her current lover, despite the fact he’s married to someone else. Both women see children as a new chance to project dissatisfaction and unhappiness onto a newly-incarnated human being. Five minutes later, when Sandy returns home to “check her messages,” it’s revealed her lover is Holly’s husband, Chip (Ted Danson, She’s Having a Baby, Getting Even with Dad, 3 Men and a Baby, American Dad!, 3 Men and a Little Lady, Dad, and “Sam Malone” from TV’s The Simpsons).
Then Ted Danson dies off-camera in an extremely gory and grisly death scene. While cleaning out his office, Holly uncovers the affair and confronts Sandy, only to have Sandy tell her she’s pregnant with Chip’s baby.
Then the two women get depressed and cease talking. Chip’s coworker Harry (Sam Waterston, TV’s A Court Show) tries to help them reconcile, but instead just winds up dating Holly and attending the birth of Sandy’s child off-camera in an extremely gory and grisly birth scene.
Holly comes to the hospital and is suddenly okay with everything because she made Sandy and Harry promise that Chip never said he was unhappily married. They drive home together while holding the newborn infant loosely(!) in the front seat of the car. Once there, the group watch home video footage of Ted Danson and openly talk about how much they each enjoyed making love with him separately. Can you believe all of that took 3.5 hours to transpire?
– Lots of good 80s leotards.
– Chip and his son, Jeff, sit and watch the topless football scene from H.O.T.S. (1979) for a bit.
– Jeff also wears this R.E.M. shirt for the entire film.
Poster and Box Art: The Thorn EMI clamshell has a colorful photo montage, which reads, “These white people are unhappy and are going to swap bodily fluids in various combinations throughout the 3.5-hour runtime of this movie.”
Availability: Streaming on Amazon, or DVD.