Blake Edwards' Skin Flick
Directed by Blake Edwards
Twentieth Century Fox Films, Co., 1989
There are two really good things about Blake Edwards' new film, Skin Deep. The first is that Skin Deep stars John Ritter, who gives a wonderful performance as Zach Hutton, a man who is addicted to women. The second is that Skin Deep contains not one, but two extended scenes featuring glow-in-the-dark condoms.
First let's talk about the condoms. There are three of them in this movie. One is blue, one is red and one has red white and blue stripes. In one scene, a man discovers Zach in bed with his girlfriend. Both men are wearing these innovative, flourescent prophylactics. I can't even begin to describe the chase/fight scene that follows, except to say that it takes place completely in the dark. Use your imagination.
Next, John Ritter, I believe with all my heart that Three's Company was an evil plot designed to lower the standards of the American television viewing public to a point where the networks could bill re-runs of shows like Hee Haw and Mr. Ed as quality entertainment.
But through admirable work in projects like Hooperman (currently on ABC) and the 1981 movie, They All Laughed, John Ritter has, in my mind, paid his debt to society for his crime of complicity in Three's Company. In fact, he has proven himself to be an innovative, dramatic actor with a wonderful sense of timing and an impressive comedic flare. Ritter ranks with Steve Martin as one of today's best physical comedians. He also has a knack for dramatic roles and an ability to make his dramatic performances heartfelt and his characters touchingly human.
In Skin Deep, Ritter has been given a chance to show off both his talent for physical humor and his capacity for dramatic acting. There is a very funny scene in the film in which Ritter has just been given a rather excessive electroshock therapy treatment, and he proceeds to jolt about like a combination of Frankenstein's monster and a subway car on the green line of the MBTA. But it is the scenes in Skin Deep in which he is given the chance to act as the straight man that demonstrate how far Ritter has evolved from Jack Tripper.
Unfortunately, even when he's wearing glow-in-the-dark condoms, Ritter cannot save this film. Basically, the problem with Skin Deep is that all the characters in the film are one-dimensional. Also, the movie has no plot. Besides that, it's pretty good.
Blake Edwards was once one of the great American film makers. He gained his greatest credit, perhaps, for his astute direction of Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffanys. His series of Pink Panther movies with the late Peter Sellers is also memorable for providing some of the greatest moments of slapstick comedy in American cinematic history.
But Edwards has been unable to recreate his past glory in any of his more recent projects. The director of such cinematic disasters as Blind Date and Sunset, Edwards sinks to new lows with Skin Deep. Discerning viewers will note that three recent Edwards films, The Man Who Loved Women (1983), Micky and Maude (1984) and now Skin Deep are all virtually indistinguishable. They are also all really bad. Perhaps what Edwards has been trying to do with all these films is to recreate the limited success he found in the Dudley Moore/Bo Derek film 10 (1979). If this is Edwards' intent, he has certainly failed.
In any event, Skin Deep is, once again, the story of a man who can't settle down and commit to one single woman. You see, this man really loves women, and he's scared of dying or something like that. Anyway, he drinks a lot, and oh, yeah, this guy is an author with writer's block, and he really loves his ex-wife. But he cheated on her, and she threw him out and now he wants her back. You know the story.
But there's really no real reason to care about the plot of Skin Deep, and there's no reason to care about any of the film's characters, for that matter. I certainly didn't care whether or not Zach got back together with his wife--the film didn't give any insight into either character. I didn't care whether or not Zach stops drinking, or whether he ever writes another book. The only thing Skin Deep really made me care about was...where can I get some glow-in-the dark condoms?