A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Farce has been defined as the art of creating characters who under no circumstances should be in the same room with one another - and putting them in the same room as soon as possible. There is not yet a definition, however, for a movie like "Key Exchange," which creates characters who should be in the same room with one another and then separates them with dreary and predictable artifice. The movie comes dangerously close to exhibiting an Idiot Plot, defined as a plot that would be over in five minutes if everyone in it were not an idiot.
"Key Exchange" is about two people who have a relationship but should not, two people who are married but should not be and the ways in which they all arrive at a singularly unconvincing happy ending. The movie stars Brooke Adams as a TV producer whose lover (Ben Masters) wants her to be faithful but sees no reason why he should be. Masters, a novelist, has a lawyer friend (Daniel Stern) who has just married a young ballerina.
Adams produces for a show called "Good Morning, New York," which is hosted by Tony Roberts, and one of the slight delights of this movie is observing how little it knows about television. (Roberts is briefed on his guests only seconds before interviewing them and the program is run so casually that almost anyone can drift in and be a guest. At one point, if I have the movie's time scheme correct, "Good Morning, New York," even airs in the evening.)
The plot is somewhat simple. Adams and Masters debate whether they should exchange keys to each other's apartments - the modern form of true commitment. Masters fools around. Stern's ballerina wife has an affair within days after her wedding. Stern, crushed, finds solace with Adams, and since they form the only couple in the movie with true, sweet chemistry, of course the movie does what it can to keep them apart. Meanwhile, the TV host has to decide whether to move to California, a decision that is complicated by visits to Chicago to talk to network officials, who, as we all know, would never be located in Manhattan.