Way We Were, The
Reviewed by Stephenee Snell
Rating: 8 Beans
ARNING: this is kind of long.
Last night, I hit the remote as I hit the sack and found "The Way We Were" at its thirty minute mark. I'd seen the beginning but never the entire picture in full. Having always heard it was one of the best-ever romance flicks, I propped up the pillows, made the dog scoot over, and settled in. By the time that famous scene ran - you know, the one where she tenderly brushes the hair from his forehead - I was highly pissed for staying up to watch it. Great romance movie? More like Streisand and Redford's rendition of "Days Of Our Lives" - and I'd give the edge to the soap!
The soap...oops! movie begins at college where liberal wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve Katie crosses paths with sensible, jock-Big-Man-On-Campus Hubbell. I'll just refer to them as Babs and Bob since this is really "The Babs and Bob Movie" and character names aren't important. Anyway, they have about as much in common as Oprah and Springer. Babs backs every liberal cause of the moment while conservative Bob is content playing BMOC, boozing with best bud JJ (Bradford Dillman), and going steady with Carol Ann (Lois Chiles). Babs and Bob start giving each other "that look." Then a few years pass, it's WWII, and Babs and Bob meet again. She's still backing any movement that pisses off everyone else and he's playing patriotic Navy guy. They see each other at a party and Babs asks wasted Bob to come up for coffee. Bob pukes, tears his clothes off, and passes out in Babs' bed. I mention all of this due to the next confusing scenes: Babs strips, gets in with Bob, and just kind of lies there. And roll her eyes a lot. Bob turns over and sort of nuzzles her. And they just kind of lie there. Now, does this mean Babs is a virgin? Or is Bob too drunk to get it up? Then they kind of move around a little and Babs keeps getting these weird facial expressions. And then...nothing! Fade to commercial. I'm going, well, did they do it or not? Did Babs just lose it? If they did it, I couldn't tell by Babs' expressions if she loved it or hated it! I was pissed off: here we have the box-office mega-stars of the '70's, they're in bed for the big sex scene America has been waiting for, and you can't even figure out if they did it! Or like it! Shit!
You already know that despite their differences, Babs and Bob get together because if they didn't, this movie would have never been made. They fight. They break up. They pout. They make up. Next scene, they're in a California beach house. Did they get married? If there was a ceremony, then I must have seen an edited-for-TV version because I only went to the bathroom during the commercials. Oh yeah, when Bob broke off with Carol Ann she latched on to JJ and they live in California, too. See, Bob and JJ are going to write Hollywood screenplays until Bob finishes the great American novel. They all hang out with the bitchy movie making gang and everyone wears nice clothes and drive expensive cars. Babs gets pregnant which left me wondering how that could happen after witnessing their prior sexual encounter. Then Babs and Bob walk on the beach with that dreadful title track swelling in the background. I'm not into romance flicks that much but by this point, it had gone way over the top.
See if you can guess what's going to happen. Carol Ann and JJ split up. Babs and Bob fight some more. Babs finds some sort of First Amendment cause to take up and then comes the Hollywood commie scare. Bob has to kiss his producer's ass and rewrite his movie. Bob and Carol Ann run into each other. Carol Ann: "I'm going back to New York. I've got a bottle of champagne open." This should have been left on the cutting room floor: it was obvious thirty minutes ago - actually, from the start - that Bob and Carol Ann were going to screw around. Babs confronts Bob, Bob confirms it, and we know it's time for divorce court and I'm wondering, well, what about the blessed event? Babs and Bob eat some dinner, get depressed, and Babs makes just one request: Bob stay with her until the kid comes. Noble Bob agrees. Then Babs is in a hospital bed and Bob's looking nervous, and here come the flashbacks and that damnable theme song!
Fast-forward to later years and New York, Babs spots Bob on the street with his tight-lipped-matronly type new wife. No liberal is she! They all chit-chat and Babs crosses the street to join a Ban the Bomb petetion drive. NOW, I'm going, that SOB Bob didn't even ask about the kid! Does Wifey #2 even know the kid exists? Then Bob runs over and they have "an important moment." They mouth some whistful cliches and finally Bob asks about the kid. Babs' Hubby #2 plays dad because gallant Bob bowed out. Then there's that famous final scene. With Babs belting out that fucking theme song!
What's wrong with all this? Better to ask what's right! Babs and Bob never aged the entire movie, only their hairstyles changed. I guess that's because the producers figured movie-goers wouldn't want to see Babs and Bob as old fogies. Babs was portrayed as this strong, liberal woman and yet she phoned Bob crying and begging him for another chance. Babs was constantly pissed off about something and really needed a little Valium. Bob was just his usual bland self. I wondered what Bob was going to do in the future when the kid showed up on "Sally" to search for her biological father. Some scenes, I actually laughed out loud (and woke up the dog). Sample: Babs: "I want...I want..." Bob: "What do you want?" Babs: "I want us to love each other!" If this is romance, thanks but no thanks.
NOTE: look for a very young James Woods.
I checked the IMDb site to get the movie's particulars and found that the tagline for "The Way We Were" was "Streisand and Redford Together!" THAT should have been the title because the tagline IS the plot. And if I'd known that, I would have had an additional two hours of sleep!
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