Story of Us,The(SE)/C+,B

Universal/1973/143m/WS 1.85

       This is a commendable attempt to tell the story of a marriage in shorthand, but I think it's intentionally superficial, in a way, and that's it's failure. Do we ever get a chance to really sympathize with either character for very long? I think not. Ben and Katy Jordan's marriage is defined by the little moments, the ordinary events that make up the daily life of any relationship. You never get to know much about Ben nor Kathy, the two kids are there for window dressing, and the attempted pathos fails on deaf audience, so to speak. 

A family affair. ŠUniversal

     There are many likeable aspects to The Story of Us. It's like a complex meal with first class ingredients that after it's cooked up and mixed together fails to excite the palette. Only the chef seems delighted with his creation, while the diners have to smile through the hash.
     Reiner and scriptwriters Alan Zweibel and Jesse Nelson try to make The Story of Us a free-form experience. They succeed, but it isolates the audience. There is very little continuity to the story-telling. Some of the quick editing, which was scripted, is razor sharp. It communicates. The rapid fire barrage of small incidents that crush people is very effective, if only we could feel for these characters.  The most memorable scene in the movie involving both sets of the Jordan parents is quite funny in a cacophonous way, but it seems like it's from another movie. 
     Chemistry usually plays a big part in the success of films like The Story of Us. The funny thing is, I think there's excellent chemistry between stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Bruce Willis as Ben and Katie Jordan. The script is so quick and heavy, a contradiction to be sure, we never have time to enjoy the moments they might have given us. Both actors seem to be working too hard, and I seldom believed them as the characters. Supporting players Rita Wilson and Paul Reiser have their good moments, but Rob Reiner seems more occupied with his directing chore. 
     Eric Clapton's score, featuring an outstanding theme song, seems to catch the essence of this story better than the film itself. Clapton finds a balance between the pain and joy and communicates it through the music; however, it's an uphill battle to overcome the bitter outcome of almost every scene,
     The audio commentary by Rob Reiner included in the special edition is a mixed bag. Reiner is more concerned with delving into story than elaborating on the filmmaking process. There are repetitions and gaps between his voice-over. He has some nice insights into the actors, but the best things gleaned from Reiner are the origins of some of the nicer bits in The Story of Us. How Reiner connected with Eric Clapton for the score is interesting.
     Far too many scenes are overenhanced creating more noise than the DVD doctor ordered for The Story of Us. Conversely, there are a number of scenes which appear too soft. It felt like the colorist wasn't sure which way to go and the result is an inconsistent looking DVD. The colors run too hot, tending to add red to the chromatic mix. They don't exactly bleed, but the sure look like they want to.
     The by-now-standard Universal Spotlight on Location is fine. The actors and director commenting on the film are interspersed with clips from the film. There a couple of nice trailers for this Spring's big Universal comedy releases, Klumps, a revisiting of The Nutty Professor, and The Adventures of Crusader Rabbit, a live/animation comic adventure.


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