TROUBLE CITY

DVD REVIEW: ARRANGEMENT, THE

Home VideoAndrew ScharfComment

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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $19.98
RATING: R
RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Vintage featurette “A New Lifestyle”
• Original Theatrical Trailer

The Pitch

Being rich and powerful with a wife that willingly lets you sleep around is hell!

The Humans

Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Deborah Kerr, Richard Boone, Hume Cronyn

The Nutshell

Eddie Anderson is hot shit. He has it all; wealth, success, an understanding wife and a powerful moustache. Of course everything isn’t what it seems. Well it is just how it seems, except Eddie is a self-loathing bastard hell bent on his own destruction. No longer satisfied with a life millions of people would mutilate a hobo for, Eddie tries to kill himself. But driving a convertible underneath a semi is apparently a better idea on paper, as Eddie survives with all his parts intact. They just don’t make convertibles like they used to. With a second chance at life, Eddie must come to grips with the various arrangements that have gotten him this far. What exactly are these arrangements that have sent him over the edge? Maybe it’s the mistress whom he loves, but can’t have? Or maybe it’s being married to a woman who accepts his infidelity because she’s a gold digger? I’d say it’s a little bit from column A, a little bit from column B, and a lot from column boring.


Who doesn't get handsy when they're drunk?


The Lowdown

The Arrangement is a bad movie of the highest caliber. It’s a movie that so boldly misses it’s mark that it should be entertaining, but mostly it’s a frustrating mess. It desperately wants to be something profound. Something that any man’s man could relate to. But the movie’s about as deep as a bowl chili and not nearly as delicious.

Character studies tend to work best when the main character is worth the attention of the audience. The character of Eddie Andersen isn’t worth a damn. As it’s slowly revealed why Eddie is suicidal, the movie shifts from intriguing to agonizing in about 20 minutes. The circumstances of his breakdown are merely some regrettable choices in what many would consider a charmed life. Eddie is not a sympathetic character, but the movie isn’t challenging. It doesn’t dare the viewer to build an emotional connection with an undeserving lead. The makers of the film must have truly believed Eddie’s self indulgent plight would garner sympathy from the audience. That’s disappointing considering the movie’s first 10 minutes had me roped in pretty good. By the hour mark, I was cursing Eddie for failing to off himself.


They should have waited to use this graphic for an actual fight instead of a scene with Douglas on the can.


The cast features some very good actors doing a lot of shouting. The story can’t progress without some kind of yelling. Every other scene is a shouting match. It’s like watching a continuous loop of minutes 13-18 from any episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Near the climax of the film, during the middle of yet another argument, the psychiatrist frustratingly drops himself on the couch and rolls his eyes. That was the only moment where I connected with the movie. Someone, no scratch that, everyone involved with the project forgot that an argument is only dramatic if the audience cares about the characters.

The one thing that has to work for the film to be successful is the relationship between Eddie and Gwen. Douglas and Dunaway have good chemistry, but the script fails them. The pair are either yelling at each other or screwing. There are no scenes that really build a believable loving relationship between the two of them. Having Gwen utter a line about only looking for sex and not love is counterproductive to the story. Not to mention pretty misogynist, when you consider Andersen’s wife is portrayed as greedy and controlling. So women are either whores or gold diggers, and convertibles are indestructible in this fantasy world. Through it all Faye Dunaway still manages to give a good performance. She is the only real bright spot of the film.


Even bad movies think they have the right to shit on Cleveland.


The film is directed by Elia Kazan from his novel of the same name. Having someone so close to the source material directing really hinders the film. The movie lacks a true narrative focal point. Kazan jumps between Andersen’s romantic life and his strained relationship with his dying father. It’s a tug of war that results in a bloated running time and a labored viewing experience. One of these plots needed to be either trimmed or omitted. Someone with an outside perspective of the material would have recognized this problem.

Not only does the movie try to be much more than it is and cover more ground than necessary, but it does so with all the professionalism of a backyard wrestling tape. The movie features some truly horrible editing. The edits are choppy and jarring. From a story stand point the film never finds a flow and the editing only works to magnify the problem. More than once a scene ends with a character in mid sentence. It’s a pretty amazing thing to see from a major studio picture. Even a family’s home movies are smart enough not to do that. Other times scenes happen for no particular reason. This includes a daydream featuring some Batman inspired fisticuffs.

I do have to give the movie some credit though. There are moments so bad that they are inspired. Eddie has a second breakdown early in the movie. He walks out on his job and then is seen seconds later buzzing the high rise office in a prop plane laughing his ass off. It’s a completely what the fuck kind of moment. I had hopes that the rest of the film would be like this, but then the shouting picked up again. Another bizarre and hilarious moment has Douglas, angry and naked, running after his wife and sister like a grizzly bear. (See below) It’s one of many scenes with Douglas sans pants. For a movie so scattershot, this is one of the only things consistent throughout.


Kirk Douglas, man's man/grizzly bear.


The Package

Not much to sink your teeth into. Good move, since the film robs a couple hours of life away from the viewer. There’s a six-minute vintage featurette that proves puff pieces haven’t changed much over the years. The theatrical trailer is the other feature. It does its best to sell a completely different movie.

2.5 out of 10