Monday, October 17, 2016

WAY…WAY OUT (1966)

In the far future of 1994, America and Russia have weather stations on the moon, each manned by one weathernaut and one astronomer. When the Americans (Howard Morris and Dennis Weaver) have what amounts to a nervous breakdown (attributed to sexual frustration) and start assaulting each other, NAWA—the weather version of NASA—decides to send up a married couple to replace the two men. Jerry Lewis, the next weatherman in line for the job, has to get married fast, and from a pool of two eligible female astronomers, he picks the lovely and wholesome Connie Stevens. She's not crazy about the idea but agrees if he’'l keep the relationship platonic, which frustrates Lewis no end. On the moon, the two become friendly with the Russians—the sexy Anita Ekberg and her boyfriend Dick Shawn—but a bump develops when Ekberg says that she's pregnant and so a Russian will be the first baby born on the moon. There’s no way that Lewis and Stevens could arrange to beat that, is there?

I'm not really a Jerry Lewis fan, but he's going to be on Turner Classic Movies cruise I'm going on next month, so I thought I should prepare by trying to catch a couple of his movies. I like THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, but I have never taken to his more slapsticky, "Hey, Ladyyyyyy" performances. In this film, he is subdued—his character is a mild playboy figure, though not as extreme as Buddy Love in PROFESSOR—but the surrounding movie is nothing more than an extended riff on sexual frustration. At the time of release, some of this may have seemed almost daring—for example, the Russians are co-habiting but are not married—but now much of it just seems cutesy-smutty. Lewis is bearable, Stevens is appropriately sweet, and Robert Morley is good as their NAWA boss. The rest of the performances are all over the map. Morris and Weaver have good chemistry as the battling men (their fisticuffs scene is a highlight), though Morris is a bit over-the-top sometimes in his near-drooling horniness. Ekberg fulfills her role (to be hot) well; Shawn, also not one of my favorites, is generally OK. What I really liked about this movie, however, is the production design. It's a perfect colorful 60s view on what the future would look like. Watch for a young James Brolin in the opening scenes. Harmless but mostly recommended to fans of either Lewis or of 60s sex farces. Pictured above are Weaver and Lewis. [FMC]

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