When you settle in to watch a movie that's had the kind of well-publicised production problems that Town&Country's had, you can't really help but root for it. Three years in the making? Countless reshoots and re-edits? Crazily overinflated $100-million-plus budget? Hey, maybe they just wanted to make the best film possible. After all, Tootsie was similarly beleaguered from inception to screen, and it was one of the most successful and popular films of the '80s.
Some movies are just doomed, though. Whatever was once the kernel of an idea for Town&Country has been buried, and what remains feels like an expensive home movie with a flat story and joyless performances.
With Hear My Song and Funny Bones, director Peter Chelsom proved himself to be no stranger to the whimsical merging of romance and rumination, but the touch here is not so much light as airless, lacking anything that even vaguely resembles a narrative. From the affairs that spur the action to the pat resolutions that blessedly signal an approaching ending, everything seems to be happening because, well, that's what was filmed, godammit.
Even worse, there's something weirdly unrecognisable about the central quartet's performances. Warren Beatty can do intellectual ditziness but is barely animated here, as if he'd forgotten he was in front of a camera. Garry Shandling, meanwhile, is given an afterthought of a character, Goldie Hawn is constantly in direct competition with lingering shots of her own well-preserved arse, and Diane Keaton has traded her Woody-refined neurotic sexuality for lines like: "This is about you and your big stupid cock!" In the end, you'll leave Town&Country believing that even infidelity doesn't deserve this bad a rap.