American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
There is a quiet, pleasant little surprise right at the beginning of Norman Jewison's "Best Friends," when we realize that this movie is going to contain some moments of truth, moments when we can recognize the characters as human beings. Maybe that won't come as a surprise to you, but it did to me because, frankly, on the basis of what I'd heard about "Best Friends" I was expecting a mating between "Author! Author!" and "You Ought To Be in Pictures," and I was not looking forward to the issue.
The movie stars Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn as two Hollywood screenwriters who are friends and lovers and decide to buy a house together. Then Reynolds decides they ought to get married. Everything in life makes a statement, he says, and he does not want to make the statement, "Then they bought their dream house and dated happily ever after." Goldie Hawn isn't so sure. They're happy now ... but won't marriage change everything?
So far, this sounds like a series of fairly predictable scenes. But they're redeemed by the writing and acting. The dialogue doesn't sound like reprocessed sitcom, and there are charming moments when Goldie discusses her marriage plans with a girlfriend while they both get quietly bombed in a baby crib, and when Goldie confesses to Burt that sometimes she pretends her parents are already dead, so that she can practice mourning them.
They get married, in a funny scene in a Spanish-speaking instant marriage chapel, and then they set off by train on an ill-advised trip back East to meet each other's parents. The sequences involving the two sets of parents provide the heart of the movie, and they're just right; they strike the right balance between affection and satire.