Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ornithologist Love Interest

Last night I watched that movie where John Belushi learns to care about bald eagles: CONTINENTAL DIVIDE. I saw it in the theater when it came out in 1981 and boy was I disappointed. A restrained Belushi is required to say things like this to Blair Brown as his ornithologist love interest: "Why ornithology?" That is a line that John Belushi has to say. There are lots of scenes of him wearing a plaid shirt and a hat and jotting down his musings on a yellow legal pad, and that image, at least, must have been appealing to the teenage me, because I felt some sort of unidentifiable pang when I saw it last night. Is that when I started wearing hats? If so, then CONTINENTAL DIVIDE has that atrocity to answer for as well! (Flipping through an old photo album I see McNeil and myself in the mountains of North Carolina probably in the early 80s and I am wearing a fishing hat - "Just like the one Jack Lemmon wore in THE ODD COUPLE!" I certainly exclaimed at the time, and I almost got Dr. Theresa to take the photo to her office and "scan" it so I could "post" it here but the thought of all that effort was just so depressing, everything was so depressing.) The humor in CONTINENTAL DIVIDE, when it occasionally happens, is along the lines of the Hope and Crosby ROAD movies: city-dweller Belushi confronted by bears or a mountain lion. But then the mountain lion mauls him a little! Which would not have happened to Hope or Crosby. In fact, the mountain lion would have talked. That would have been funny. Even the one-liners were more Hope-like than anything else. After a mishap, Blair Brown says, "Are you all right?" and Belushi replies (I think), "Yeah, it's just my body." It was amazingly old-fashioned. Once, just once, Belushi deploys his eyebrows in the manner we all desired in 1981. But that wasn't enough for us! Written by Lawrence Kasdan and directed by Michael Apted and does that deserve one of these: (!)? I don't know. Does anything deserve a (!)? Doesn't everything just deserve a "..."? The structure of the film is very weird, with a bafflingly truncated second act and why am I typing this?