Screenshot The Four Seasons 1981

I’m not sure what possessed me to watch this film. I must have been pretty bored when I scrolled through the film options on Amazon Prime to land on this one. I do enjoy older films, and the cast here is fantastic so it seemed like a reasonable choice.

Sadly, I wasn’t too impressed. I came away thinking that a film like this probably derailed Alan Alda’s film career after his incredible run on M.A.S.H. It was very hard back then to make the jump from TV to film, and Alda was certainly typecast at this point. Unfortunately, his character here is just a less funny version of Hawkeye.

The movie isn’t terrible, but it wasn’t very funny, and wasn’t that the point? The cast featured Alda along with Carole Burnett. One would expect plenty of laughs. Rita Moreno, Jack Weston, Len Cariou, Sandy Dennis and Bess Armstrong rounded out the cast. Again, there’s plenty of talent here, but something’s missing.

The underlying story had promise (see the original trailer here). Three couples traditionally go on vacation with their friends every new season. They’re all very close. Jack (Alda) and Kate (Burnett) are a couple. We learn early on with the first vacation that Nick (Cariou) isn’t very happy with his wife , Anne (Dennis). Then on the next vacation he shows up with a much younger woman, Ginny (Bess Armstrong), and the others struggle to come to terms with this. We see these relationships evolve as they go through more vacations together with each new season.

Given this setup and the talent in the cast, there are so many opportunities for funny situations, but the script just doesn’t deliver. Claudia (Moreno) and Danny (Weston) are the third couple and Danny’s character was written to provide laughs, but his whining just comes across as annoying.

Naturally, we get all of the cliches you might expect from this situation. Nick and Ginny are having lots of sex, and the other couples have to overhear them when they’re stuck on a small boat. This should be a funny scene, but instead we get to see just how annoying and bitter Carole Burnett’s character Kate can be. This would make most men either forego marriage or start thinking of ways to find their own younger playmate. It’s a waist of Burnett’s considerable comedic talent to give her so little to work with here. Also, Rita Moreno is always sexy but somehow her character offers little in the way of sex appeal with her role.

What we do get is way to much of Alan Alda being Alan Alda. Perhaps this would have been tolerable had he brought along the writing team from M.A.S.H., but all we get is endless talk around the awkwardness of the situation facing these couples.

It seemed like everyone in the cast, particularly Weston and Alda, resorted to overacting to make up for the weak script.

By the time we get to the last vacation, tensions are running high, and we get the inevitable drama that leads to some level of acceptance. But by this time I barely cared.