Sunday, September 28, 2008

Retirement was a good idea

Tonight, TCM are showing Doris Day's final movie, the 1968 family comedy With Six You Get Eggroll, at 10:15 PM ET tonight. It was probably the right move for Day to retire from making movies after this dud.

The story line is that Day plays a widow with three sons. She meets Brian Keith, a widower with a teenage daughter. Does this sound familiar? It's much the same plot as Yours, Mine, and Ours, only with fewer children. It was released a few months after Yours, Mine and Ours, obviously with the idea that if the earlier movie was successful, another movie with much the same material would be just the thing for audiences.

Unfortunately, it comes across as thoroughly unoriginal, and not all that funny. It really doesn't help, either, that they decided to put some hippies into the movie (in the form of Jamie Farr and a bunch of his screen friends), presumably under the thinking that they had to appeal to the teenagers. Yours, Mine, and Ours was aimed squarely at the squares, with the result that it's a really nice, warm family comedy that still hits its mark 40 years on. With Six You Get Eggroll, on the other hand, fails in all these regards, and seems like a product of its time that bears viewing only as a historical curiosity. Indeed, one of the few bright spots is when Keith's daughter (played by Barbara Hershey) complains to her stepmother that she wants to be more independent and adult, Day responds by giving her all the household responsibilities for the day, including things that no housewife of 2008 would do, even if she were a stay-at-home mom. (Polish the silver? Does anybody actually use silver silverware any more, even on fine occasions?) Having made her stepdaughter do all the chores one day, Day then gives her a set of responsibilities for the next day that turn out to be all the fun things that Hershey wanted to do. On the other hand, there's an extended sequence of Brian Keith running around town in just his boxers. It's as though the writers though, "Ooh, the man's got sex appeal. Let's figure out a way to use it in the plot." Instead, the finished product is just tedious.

The one other bright spot is that With Six You Get Eggroll is the feature film debut of the late George Carlin. It's available on DVD, so if you miss tonight's airing on TCM, you can always get the DVD and judge for yourself.

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