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The 100




Consenting Adults
(1992)
Reviewed by Reed Hubbard
Rating: 8.5 Beans

onsenting Adults” is one of those movies that takes itself way too seriously. It uses an awkward combination of sultry style and tense mystery while conveying a backhanded moral regarding the evils of hedonism or of adultery or of greed or of all three. Yet, for all its effort, it comes up empty. The only surprise is how each plot twist becomes increasingly more ludicrous. Each time you think they can’t stretch credibility further, they do. It’s like filling a condom with water – it gets a lot bigger than you’d ever expect before it bursts.

Kevin Kline plays Richard Parker, an Atlanta-based commercial jingle composer. He and his wife Priscilla (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) are a solid couple with a happy, albeit uneventful life. Then one day, Eddie Otis (Kevin Spacey) moves in next door. We first see him zipping out of a moving van into his garage on his crotch rocket motorcycle, so maybe he’s a little wild? A risky kind of guy? Huh, ya think? The Parkers invite the Otises over for drinks where Eddie introduces Richard to his sexy, blues-singing wife, Kay. Here is where we hear Eddie give us his overly materialistic credo, stating that unless you have a lot of money, you shrivel up and die. Eddie is a despicably unctuous guy with the personality of a used car salesman, but Richard and he become fast friends.

While Eddie and Richard are boxing (one of the many manly things they do together), Eddie offers to help him with his debt. How, you ask? By jumping in front of Richard’s car and faking a neck injury. Richard and Priscilla don’t know Eddie is faking his whiplash until he rips off his neck brace and shows them the check. With very little urging, they take the money and are now free to live their ultra-yuppie hedonistic lifestyle with out the nagging problem of having to earn the money to pay for it. What a country!

At this point, the movie gets stupid. Eddie notices Richard’s attraction to Kay and subtly mentions it to him by saying, “You want to !&*# my wife, don’t you?” He proposes a wife swap by asking Richard, “Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night and sort of do it half asleep?” “Yeah, sure!” Richard replies.

STOP RIGHT THERE!

I challenge anyone to find me a middle-aged couple who, after fourteen years of marriage, wake up in the middle of the night and “sort of do it half asleep” on a regular basis. I point this out because the rest of the movie hinges on the fact that both of these couples regularly participate in some zombied-out 1 am bottom knockin’. And, on top of that, that the women are too groggy to know whether it’s their husband or the neighbor who’s drivin’ the Toronado. On top of that, Richard has a moustache and Eddie is clean shaven, so is Kay going to just write off the bushy lip that would be kissing her unmentionables as Eddie’s overly long nose hair? I just don’t buy the whole premise. Most women I have known would choose sleep over sex any day. Maybe that has something to do with me…but I digress.

Eddie becomes obsessed with working this wife-swap thing, but Richard is so opposed that he and Eddie get in a fight and stop boxing together. Now, Eddie is the pervert that proposes this switcheroo and Richard is the stand-up guy who’ll take ill-gotten insurance funds but won’t screw around on his wife. So what happens? Everybody goes to Eddie’s house to play and leaves Richard alone. Even Priscilla jumps on Richard, saying that at least Eddie is in the game and that he, Richard, never took a risk. So does Richard tell Priscilla what Eddie wanted to do? No! He goes outside and sings Christmas carols about Jesus with Eddie and agrees to the screw his neighbor’s wife in the swap-n-bang.

It gets worse. The big switch ‘em up night comes and Richard walks into Kay’s bedroom. Richard boinks his half-comatose neighbor and slips out of the bedroom to meet Eddie and his turd-eating grin on the stairs. The next day…oh my stars! Kay’s been beaten to death and Richard’s semen is everywhere! Guess who goes to jail?

Now it gets really stupid. Priscilla, no fan of Tammy Wynette, leaves her jailhouse husband and shacks up with guess who? Eddie! Meanwhile, Richard makes bail and hooks up with Forrest Whitaker, an insurance fraud investigator with the worst southern accent around. It seems Eddie was just pulling another insurance scam and got 1.5 million for his wife’s death. But wait! It wasn’t Kay who was killed. Richard hears her singing on the radio one night and tracks her down. You see, Eddie hired a woman who looked like Kay to be in the bedroom for Richard, but I guess since he was doing it sort of half asleep, he didn’t notice he was nailing a hooker instead of the girl next door. Also, the cops didn’t investigate the murder well enough to determine that the dead woman wasn’t Kay Otis. Wouldn’t O.J. have loved it if these guys worked in Brentwood?

So where’s Eddie? He and Priscilla have moved to a house on the ocean in Charleston, SC with a guard at the gate of their house! Not the neighborhood, but they have their own private 24-hour guard at their house. So now this fortysomething jingle composer beats up the much younger security guard and enters the house. He confronts Eddie, who pulls off his mask to reveal that he’s a space alien who has impregnated Priscilla. Then a hurricane hits the house and Eddie and Richard fight as they are swirled upward into the sky. Then lightning strikes Eddie, killing him and destroying the karmic bond between him and Priscilla’s fetus, which causes her to miscarry.

Ok, so that’s not how it ends, but I was fully expecting something like that. The movie was so unbelievable by that time that no ending could have made it worse. There were just so many things that were dreadfully stupid. Let me give you some more examples.

- Eddie flies a commercial airline from Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA – two towns that are less than an hour apart. He could drive there and back in less time than one leg of a flight.

- The Otises and the Parkers play softball the day that Pseudo-Kay is murdered. She is beat to death with the softball bat that “has Richard’s fingerprints all over it.” I guess the cops neglected to match up Eddie’s, Priscilla’s and Kay’s fingerprints which were also on the bat.

- Kay is supposed to be dead, so to keep a low profile she moves to Savannah and starts singing on the radio.

- Priscilla is downright hateful to Richard when he’s in jail, but when he hides in her car and jumps out at her, she’s so sympathetic that she accepts the tape of Kay’s voice and plays it for Eddie.

- Richard is out on bail for a brutal murder charge, but roams Atlanta freely with no apparent police surveillance. He even crosses state lines several times.

As if all this weren’t enough, the performances are pathetic. Kevin Spacey is the biggest ham in the world in this film. He wins the overacting award hands down. Kevin Kline looks foolish as the terse jingle writer who has no personality but wants to be a blues musician. He’d be the dullest bluesman in the South. The whole movie is filmed as an irritating series of vignettes between which any amount of time may pass. Scene 2 may occur a day after scene 1, but scene 3 may happen five weeks after scene 2. The Kevins make up at Christmastime. In the next scene they’re playing softball on a summer afternoon, and the next scene is that night.

Someone didn’t read this script. I don’t think anyone did until it was too late and the project was going forward. This is one of the dumbest premises for a movie I’ve ever come across, and there’s a bunch of stuff I left out! I’d suggest watching only if you want pointers on the lost art of half-conscious late night snake wrestling. Just make sure you’re squeezing the right tomato.






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