Skin Deep (1989) – Review

2 Stars

Blake Edwards’ umpteenth mediation on alcoholic womanizers is a meandering affair, filled with moments of comedy and insight yet sidelined by a tone-deaf script and unlikable characters. Doing some of the best work of his career is John Ritter as Zach Hutton, a once great novelist now suffering from writers block and the effects of addiction to alcohol. However this isn’t a serious profile of the disease, but a playful ribbing of chauvinistic attitudes and 1980’s sexual promiscuity.

Left by his fed-up wife, Hutton finds himself sinking into depression while engaging in empty affairs with attractive women. The relentless boozing and one-night stands has left the prize-winning author impotent creatively and self-destructive socially. The script intermediates between mean-spirited and whimsical, but the real problem is that Ritter’s character is supposed to be sympathetic, yet his attitude and habits come off as self-pity.

Hutton views women as the key to self-satisfaction but ultimately realizes that it is fueling his self-loathing and drinking. Aided in his awakening is the presence of two older male figures, the local bartender, who often lets Zach sleep off his intoxication in the back-room and an exasperated psychiatrist, who pleads with the artist to stop drinking.

Too many gags and material recall heavily on scenes from previous Blake Edwards’ comedies. The most memorable scene in the film, involves glow-in-the-dark condoms. John Ritter shows a gift for physical comedy and range as an actor, but the film is too slow to be engrossing for the duration of its long running-time. Edwards has attempted to replicate the success of his work on 10, and The Man Who Loved Women by fashioning a serio-comedy that is part sensitive drama, part slapstick farce, rarely any of it works. Ivan Neville contributes a great theme song to the soundtrack.

Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: John Ritter, Vincent Gardenia, Alyson Reed

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