Down & Out In Beverly Hills (1986)

Paul Mazursky directs Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler in this farce where a charismatic tramp moves in with a rich family after attempting suicide in their pool.

A remake of Jean Renoir’s Boudu Saved From Drowning but with very little of the charm. Aims for loud and chaotic rather witty or insightful. The culture clash rarely works outside the gated communities so we are essentially watching wealth porn – how quickly the destitute takes to makeovers, expense and bullshit. Sure, he gives a little wisdom and glides through the spoilt family’s neuroses like some wizened sage but this angle never finds fertile ground. There’s no median here between the filthy rich and the itinerant either… the gardener and the maid have lifestyles on a par with their employers and seemingly work patterns and demands as indulgent. Beyond the distasteful omission of the working and middle classes of America (you’ve either made it or you’re a bum) the formula shenanigans waste a stellar trio of leads… Midler feels particularly underused – though her clipped little trot raises a smile even when her dialogue is found wanting. Whenever a scene fails to find a laugh they cut to the comedy dog. This happens so often you tire of seeing his cute responsive face as a hold card for a punchline. There are even scenes where this chuckle lifeline feels distasteful. When Little Richard rants about the injustice a wealthy black man still must endure… it feels like only the silly dog is listening and he finds the concept of racial inequality laughable. A dated relic… but it does have Talking Heads on the soundtrack.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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