10 (1979)
10 (1979)

Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.

Release Date: October 5th, 1979 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Blake Edwards Actors: Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews, Bo Derek, Robert Webber, Dee Wallace, Sam Jones, Brian Dennehy, Max Showalter, Don Calfa

 


 

S

ongwriter George Webber (Dudley Moore) wanders into his partner Hugh’s (Robert Webber) dark beach house, lit only by a candle, as a fuse must have blown. But it’s a setup; a large gathering of friends waits just inside, ready to throw a surprise birthday party for the 42-year-old. After booze has been consumed and cake candles have been extinguished, Webber’s supportive girlfriend, 38-year-old Samantha Taylor (Julie Andrews), attempts to console the distraught birthday boy; the celebration has only highlighted George’s encroaching midlife crisis. Nothing can turn back the clock.

“Life begins at 40.” On his drive back into Beverly Hills the next day, George is bombarded with distractions, testing the limits of his wandering mind and his fidelity. From beach babes to scantily-clad joggers to a young woman in a wedding dress, everyone piques his sexual curiosities. It doesn’t help that he has a telescope on his back patio, aimed squarely at the promiscuous neighbor, who always seems to have a naked “broad” skinny-dipping in his pool or bent over the pool table (“He’s got a helluva stable over there”), or even a full-on orgy unfolding in the middle of the day.

“You’re becoming obsessed with the ugliness of old age!” When George becomes intrigued with the woman in the wedding dress, Jennifer Miles (Bo Derek, playing the personification of temptation), whom he followed into the chapel for a better look, he starts to pry into her life, growing ever more infatuated. After some strained conversations and interactions with Samantha, George decides to fly to Mexico, where Jenny is honeymooning, without much of a plan on what to do once he arrives (and still heavily under the influence of painkillers and wine).

While there’s significant drama in the arguments and relationships on display, there’s also quite a bit of comedy in the background elements, such as with an elderly woman serving tea, a priest trying to impress George with a song performance, and in a lengthy slapstick routine that finds Webber falling down – and scrambling up – the hill behind his house (and then falling into his pool). Even a reconnaissance trip to the dentist to gather information on Jenny ends in unanticipated dental work, exacerbated by a bothersome assistant, drinks spilled all over himself due to a swollen mouth, and finally a visit from the police. The comedy grows to outrageous proportions at times, stretching the boundaries of realism (despite scrutinizing a very realistic scenario), though it’s carefully planned out to emphasize the mixing of signals and the notion that George and Samantha are on opposite wavelengths, especially when he opts to explore solutions to his middle-aged angst.

Admirably, Andrews’ character isn’t an airhead or easily manipulated; she remains strong and independent, while nevertheless concerned over her boyfriend’s wellbeing. It’s a striking role for the actress, who was absent from the screen for approximately five years. Writer/director Blake Edwards showcases his skills with comic timing (along with those of his actors) by breaking up the more serious moments of drama with spontaneous jokes; likewise, fantasy revelry is jarred by the inconvenience of reality.

The film is also occupied by the therapeutic wisdom of a friendly bartender (Brian Dennehy), a luckless vacationer (Dee Wallace), piano playing (making use of Henry Mancini’s music), and Andrews’ singing. Curiously, Webber isn’t a wholly sympathetic guy, with the scripting hoping that his woes strike a chord with likeminded audiences. His forceless personality turns him into something of an antagonist, though the plot is essentially a trial for his weak will. The mere fact that he seeks out opportunities to cheat – humorous as they may be – makes him somewhat irredeemable, especially when he anticipates that, should he end up in bed with Jenny, she will value his company as something more than a simple fling. Still, “10” is a fascinating character study, bittersweet and insightful yet full of tremendous laughs.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10