The Four Seasons

"Very Good"

The Four Seasons Review


Back in the '70s, Alan Alda gained a rep as a "sensitive man," a pro-ERA, Marlo Thomas-loving, abortion-rights-advocating bleeding heart. The Four Seasons, written, directed, and starring Alda at the peak of his M*A*S*H fame, is his feminist apotheosis. This sparkling comedy tracking the travails of three upscale middle-aged couples as they vacation together four times a year (accompanied by a vibrant Vivaldi soundtrack, natch) is told from a distinctly female, and feminist, perspective. Alda is really in touch with his softer side.

Jack and Kate Burroughs (Alda and Carol Burnett), Danny and Claudia Zimmer (Jack Weston and Rita Moreno), and Nick and Anne Callan (Len Cariou and Sandy Dennis) head off for the first of their four annual trips in spring, but it's not going to be a good time. The fragile and seemingly unstable Anne announces that Nick has dumped her and that a divorce is imminent. The women rally around their long-time friend while the men stand back and try to avoid emoting at all.

By the time of a summer yachting excursion in the Virgin Islands, Anne has been replaced by the very young and very beautiful Ginny (Bess Armstrong), who parades around the boat in her bikini, much to the dismay of the still seething Claudia and Kate. While Jack and Danny seem jealous as hell of Nick, the two women take every opportunity to run Ginny down with vicious zingers that really sting. Their anger at Nick turns to hilarity when they can't help but overhear the newlyweds' noisy lovemaking in the crowded confines of the yacht. Giggle fits ensue as the Burroughs and the Zimmers begin to ponder their own mid-life crises.

In the fall, the couples journey to a leafy college campus where a few of their kids are studying. This time around, the comic set piece is a soccer game on the quad, where the not-so-fit men try to outmatch each other in a transparent attempt to impress the cheerleading Ginny. When Jack injures himself, Claudia hasn't a bit of sympathy for him, the big jerk.

When the snow falls, the couples reunite in a claustrophobic snowbound cabin, which, given the group dynamics, is probably not a good idea. All the unsaid insults and unexpressed emotions bubble to the surface and explode in a long scene that's hilarious, furious, and touching all at the same time. It's Ginny who becomes the voice of reason, shredding the other women for their cruelty and vindictiveness and their unwillingness to embrace her in a spirit of sisterhood. As the wisecracking Claudia remarks, "I wonder what other people do on their vacations."

Alda's all-star cast has a ball with his sharp material. Moreno shines brightest, and her interplay with the sad-sack Weston are reminiscent of the classic bickering between Fred and Ethel Mertz. Burnett, too, does a fine job of wrestling with her menopausal demons and taking Alda's Jack to task when he needs it. Never sophomoric and always witty, The Four Seasons is right on the money, especially for viewers who may be edging away from 40 on their way to 50.



The Four Seasons

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd May 1981

Distributed by: MCA Universal Home Video

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Jack Burroughs, as Kate Burroughs, as Nick Callan, as Anne Callan, as Claudia Zimmer, as Danny Zimmer, as Ginny Newley (Callan)

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.