Movie Details

Box office disaster struck in the spring of 2001, with this notorious debacle that toplined Warren Beatty, Garry Shandling, and a supporting ensemble of A-list female stars, in a botched attempt to create a sexy romantic roundelay. Filming began in 1998, and the picture suffered from a myriad of behind-the-scenes conflicts, production delays, hasty rewrites and overruns that generated much negative press and pushed the budget up to elephantine levels. As a result, seams are constantly visible, particularly on the levels of style and tone. Town never finds a consistent note, careening wildly from dopey bedroom farce to surrealistic comic nightmare to satire of misperceptions, and back again. And continuity is also an issue, though not in a way that you can necessarily put your finger on; the actors often appear to be speaking through one another, as if they are cut together from separate movies. With Buck Henry scripting, and such a game cast at the fore, one wonders how this project could have misfired to this degree, but it does. Beatty's line readings are occasionally fresh (as in an amusing scene involving his character's denial of marital infidelity and then last-minute confession of guilt). Marian Seldes and the late Charlton Heston also get a few laughs - she as an obscenity-spouting old woman in a motorized wheelchair, and he as a shotgun-wielding arsonist who burns Beatty's cabin down. Otherwise, this is a real dog, and a monument to Hollywood profligacy as well; by some estimates, Town and Country cost as much as $110 million, and grossed less than $7 million stateside, making it one of the biggest bombs in the history of movies. As an upshot, the losses somehow didn't impede the subsequent output of the individual producers or destroy the career of director Peter Chelsom, and distributor New Line ended the year on a far more lucrative note, with its Tolkien series that went on to gross billions of dollars. Yet this marked Beatty's last onscreen appearance for over thirteen years. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi