We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"How Sweet It Is" is sweet enough, but doesn't quite make it as a successor to last year's "Divorce American Style." Both comedies star Debbie Reynolds as a wife in her mid-30's who survives a marriage by proving -- surprise! -- that she's still sexy. What made this work in "Divorce American Style" was a genuine wit and satire.
"How Sweet It Is" was, perhaps intended to share its tragicomic approach, but it becomes too preposterous, too neat, too much like a TV situation comedy. It has a lot of laughs, yes, and Debbie Reynolds demonstrates once again that she really is a talented comedienne.
But James Garner, as her husband, lacks the rough edges that made Dick Van Dyke convincing as the husband in "Divorce." Garner is almost too smooth, too much like a leading man. And he plays his scenes that way, instead of going for realism.
The other problem is the film's preoccupation with things thought to be currently fashionable. Miss Reynolds and Garner have a teenage son Davey, who is supposed to be a hippie or something, and he has a lot of friends who're supposed to be hippies or something. But Hollywood has yet to put a convincing hippie on the screen: They're always too clean or too dirty, depending on whether they're supposed to be good or bad characters, and in either case they're always too square.