Boyfriends, Who Needs Them?

UK - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

The comedy "Boyfriends, Who Needs Them!" is an object lesson in the notion that all relationships are hard work, and that if you have some sort of blissed-out romantic notion about love conquering all, you are a prime candidate for heartbreak. It follows three couples in various stages of their couplehood as they spend the weekend together learning about life and love. There's Ben and Paul, whose blissful years have devolved into petty bickering. Owen and Matt, whose three months of dating is enough time for one of them to figure out that they have nothing in common. Finally, Adam and Will. One's over thirty, the other's 20,good-natured and a one-night stand. O my.

We meet them as they prepare for the getaway at a friend's country house, packing prodigious amounts of alcohol, hopeful amounts of condoms and just the right shirt. Once there, their relaxing mini-vacation turns into an emotional roller coaster with no emergency brake. Sound familiar? Well, it does bear a striking resemblance to the recent, better, "Love! Valor! Compassion!" The writing in "Boyfriends," though, suffers by comparison. It doesn't have the same heft, nor does it pack the same emotional wallop. And the direction, by co-writers Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger is singularly uninspiring, even, when, in a desperate attempt to add some flair, they sneak in an homage to Goddard of the sort that annoys even when Goddard does it.

Having said that, let me tell you what's good about "Boyfriends, Who Needs Them?". The writing rings true to real life and it's played out by an ensemble cast that fleshes out their characters into unique and fully realized people. Thus, it nicely satisfies that prurient delight we all take in eavesdropping on other people's lives, particularly when said lives are not running exactly on track. Most of the unravelings you can see coming, but there are a few twists from left field mixed in and a generous sprinkling of wry observations on human nature.

There's something else I liked about "Boyfriend, Who Needs Them!" Even though it pulls no punches about romance's rocky side, it allows as how sometimes, with enough effort, it can all work out.

© 1997 Andrea Chase Air Date: 8/27/97

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