It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Blake Edwards, who directed "Skin Deep," is like a magician who distracts you with his rapid-fire patter and his sexy assistant, while he’s switching the rabbits behind his back. The movie is the ultimately serious story of a man who bottoms out on those two vices of the moment, drinking and womanizing. But this is the only serious movie I can think of that contains a ballet for glow-in-the-dark condoms.
The hero of the story is a novelist named Zach (John Ritter), whose life is coming apart at the seams. He’s got writer’s block. He can’t stop chasing every pretty girl who comes along. His wife is leaving him. His agent is dying. He gets arrested for drunken driving about twice a week. His house has burned to the ground. The opening scene is an indication of his desperation: His mistress catches him in bed with her hairdresser, and then his wife walks in on all three of them.
Zach’s fundamental problem is alcoholism. He’s one of those drunks whose evenings develop in stages. Early on, he can be charming and seductive to women. A little later, he knows how to play Cole Porter on the piano. In the morning, he is likely to wake up in his bartender’s guest room, having thrown up in the aquarium, stuck the dog to the ceiling with Super Glue and wrapped himself in toilet paper because he was cold.
Although Zach’s situation is desperate, Edwards approaches him with the detachment and maniacal gleam of a sardonic jokester. Zach is a pathetic case, but the movie is wicked and lighthearted as it follows his misadventures with a parade of bedable women. One of them is a massive body builder. Another likes to pour lighter fluid on his piano and set it afire. In the scene I will undoubtedly remember the longest, he goes to bed with a rock star’s girlfriend, who suggests he wear one of the star’s condoms - an iridescent glow-in-the-dark model that leads to two of the strangest and funniest scenes Edwards has ever filmed.