Malibu (1983)

“Malibu” boasts one of the best miniseries casts of slumming vets ever…and manages to waste them all!  Well let’s be fair it’s “Malibu” that is so hysterically awful that the vets don’t have much chance of shining, but they do their share of contributing to the glop of it all.  Notably, they are matched by the younger generation, every bit as bad, which guarantees slumming vets in the future (if the miniseries should ever return).

It all starts with Anthony Newley singing the title song with his usual brand of hokum, though this is not “What Kind of Fool Am I?” or “Who Can I Turn To?” which he wrote for his personal style to charm the back of the balcony.  In fact, “Malibu” premiered as Tony was about to crash and burn in his final attempt at a Broadway musical, playing Charlie Chaplin in a show he wrote as well, which opened, closed and was never heard from again, only miles up the coast from Malibu itself in Los Angeles.  “Have you been to paradise?  The people there are very nice” is the first lyric, followed by some scooped Malibuuu-uuu-uuuu refrains as aerial footage shows us all of the picturesque locale.  So, we have firmly established as the credits end that we are in the land of glitzy cheese.  Step lively folks, if you stand still too long, that cheese is like quicksand and you won’t ever be able to escape!

Malibu’s best real estate agent is…wait for it…hold…it’s coming…Kim Novak!  In one the American miniseries’ most unfortunate wigs, she’s on the phone cooing to a client when in walks George Hamilton, writing “I’m a live one $” to get her off the phone.  He’s a conman, in case you didn’t get that from his flashy car, flashy suit, flashy smile.  He’s in “investments.”  “Think of me as your seeing eye dog,” he inexplicably tells Kim as an explanation of how good he is at that nondescript job.  He claims to be in the market for a house, something along the lines of a million dollars, so Kim jumps out of her swivel chair and heads off with him.  She knows he’s a phony, but she goes along with him anyway.

Let’s meet some of the locals.  Or perhaps have them meet each other.  While everyone else is romping in the sand in bikinis, Ann Jillian is in a sweater and pants, stopping in front of James Coburn’s house where they lock eyes.  Something about his cigar smoking has her cocking her head so far it’s liable to snap, but she moves on.  Having some grub in a restaurant are Jenilee Harrison, doing her best dumb blonde act (I think it’s an act) with distracted Richard Mulligan who, upon hearing that Jenilee feels both of eyes are of sound sight, remarks, “everything you have two of is perfect.”  He’s a writer in the movie business, but apparently not that successfully, and no wonder if that’s his best material.  Playing tennis are Chad Everett and Valerie Perrine, the former in a tighter outfit than the latter.

Anthony Newley saunters into the restaurant, and Richard Mulligan pounces, trying to schmooze the powerful man who is so important he wears his jacket over his shoulders rather than with his arms in it, as if it’s not 400 degrees in Malibu.

I’ll hand it to George Hamilton, he plays the suave slime ball exceedingly well (okay, fine, it’s the only role he ever played).  He offers $750,000 on the $3 million house Kim shows him, offering to rent it for $3K (she counters with $8500 and he agrees), telling her when asked again that his business is “making everybody, but you and me, a little bit poorer” and then chirping that if the bedroom ceiling “cannot hold a mirror, the deal is off.”  He then gives her an admitted rubber check and for some reason she takes it.

Kim has some actual paying clients too, new-to-California Susan Dey and her husband William Atherton, from Wisconsin, looking for sun and sand for the summer while the kids are at camp.  The rental she shows Susan (before William arrives) is right on the beach, with the sound of the waves.  “Two months of that beats two months of therapy.  You ever been in therapy?” Kim asks, as if it’s a perfectly natural question from a) a realtor and b) from someone you just met.  Kim schools Susan in the “ambiance” of Malibu and gives her a whole raised-eyebrow routine, though unfortunately, her eyebrows are hidden by her wig, descending lower and lower in each scene.  When William arrives, he doesn’t want the dump she’s showing. He wants “the colony,” where all the movers are shakers reside.  She takes them to a swank place and continues in her line of wacky sales techniques by sitting in a rocking chair while the couple argues about it.  They can’t really afford it, but William is set on it and convinces Susan they should go for.  “Darling, it’s so long since we’ve had any fun…I’m not talking about pleasure or satisfaction, I’m talking about fun!  Doing crazy irresponsible things because we felt like it,” he tells her and admits that though they are not wealthy, “faking it can be fun too.”  Plus, Troy Donahue lives next door, which dazzles them.  “A movie star here is like a CPA in Osh Kosh,” Kim blithely notes.  Plus, Troy Donahue lives next door (the real Troy Donahue, shown only from afar).

Being in “the colony” allows Susan and William access to the club, where Chad Everett turns out to be a tennis instructor Susan remembers from him professional career.  Susan gets invited to parties with bold-faced names.  Meanwhile, the longing looks between James and Ann could be the chance she needs to boost her career as a journalist.  If she can get him on her show, which no one else can do, she will go network!  But how to get him?  How?  How?

Kim hosts a dinner party for Valerie, Ann, Susan and William, which also includes the local flamboyant man in an ascot, Richard McKenzie (playing a character named Honeycutt in a role that really should have gone to Roddy McDowell).  Susan, with her perfect memory, knows not only Chad’s career stats, but every word author Richard has ever written.  “The only reason I would ever have an affair with you is to find out if you ever keep your mouth shut,” yells Valerie, having left the dinner table for the Jacuzzi next to it, sans clothing.  “He doesn’t,” Kim offers.  Wait, he’s slept with them?  Two women?  Even worse than Susan’s ability to be annoying by rote, she even offers to help Kim with the dishes.

During a walk on the beach, Valerie confesses a deep dark secret to William.  “I’ve never had an affair with an astronaut,” she tells him.  So much for deep thinking.  “I want to be an astronaut,” William flirts before they they head into the water, much to Susan’s annoyance.  It’s going to be one hell of a summer, kiddies!

Ann decides to stop by James and Eva Marie’s house, where Eva Marie graciously welcomes her because she recognizes her from television.  Ann has a whole speech prepared about how her viewers care for “important issues.”  Eva Marie still doesn’t get it until Ann mentions Eva Marie’s passion for environmental issues, when she knows for sure Ann wants James and not her.  Apparently Eva Marie and her gang have wanted on the show forever, and have been turned down, so the jig is up for Ann.  She’ll have to find another way.

Steve Forrest has the least masculine beach run style in Malibu, stopping in front of Susan’s place where she is thrilled that a movie star wants to come up for a cold drink.  Maybe she can get used to this!

Now it’s time for Ann’s new trick.  Knowing James has a lesson with Chad (who has shorts so tight it borders on porn), she has Chad paged and steps onto the court.  Since James has already taken a shine to her just from seeing her once, he’s more than happy to pay with her, despite the Greek goddess outfit and headband.  James knows who she is and knows that Ann had been given the boot by Eva Marie.  “I still don’t give interviews,” he says as they volley and trade bad puns.  She takes a girlish slip on the court, requiring careful walking and lunch with James.  It’s an exceedingly painful scene, one that runs on way too long as they continue with the puns, they just aren’t sexual this time (well, not all of them).  Dazzled by her sexiness and vamping, he almost cracks.  However, he’s smarter than she is and knows all along there’s been a tape recorder running.  After destroying the tape, he asks to have lunch with her again.

If you thought Ann’s scenes with James were painful, get a load of the interview she actually does with fey Richard for her show.  He speaks like Truman Capote, though not at all witty or particularly observant, just seemingly putting words together to force quips.  After he describes his “ideal woman,” she tears into him, asking, no demanding, that he come out of the closet.  He sputters and storms to the camera, trying to block it.  That ought to help her career, but dinner parties will be awkward this summer!

Battling a dog and his own velvet jumpsuit, Richard tries again with Anthony at the latter’s house.  Then he has to battle with a British butler.  He can’t fool the dry valet, but he does get the script inside the door at least.  This is the comedy plot and it’s already tired.

Impressed with Ann’s interview with Richard, James calls her for a beach walk, which is not pleasing to Eva Marie, overhearing the phone conversation.  He offers to take her to a hotel, which she doesn’t mind at all, saying that “if we are going to have a relationship, it has to be honest.”  She was smart for two scenes and now she’s back to dumb again, though that’s okay because he’s struck dumb by Cupid’s arrow.

Steve, wearing the same revealing shorts as Chad, but in a different color, takes Susan for a walk on the beach, regarding her like a hungry wolf, and then invites her to his bedroom to watch his old movies.  He tries every trick to get her into the bed, but she won’t even get onto it, sitting on a bench instead.  “We should be making love, not talking,” he says when she brings up his wife.  “Maybe talking is more fun,” she replies.  He gets her in a clinch and pulls her to the bed, but she pushes him off and dashes out. So, he goes back to watching one of his movies.  Hey, it’s easier than calling a hooker or lifting weights.

Ann has a dilemma.  Her producer and crackpot team of investigators have, in just one day, managed to dig up all the dirt on James’ law career, including a Mr. X, who will be interviewed, but only anonymously.  Everyone is excited, but Ann can’t join in.  You see, let’s say it all together, she’s fallen for James.  Since yesterday.

Valerie Perrine has the corniest line of the movie when, watching James and Ann in a double match (which is so poorly faked and uses so much repeat footage that I hope the stand-ins were well paid), turns to her partner, George Hamilton and wonders if they can beat them.  “Piece of cake,” he answers.  “I think you’ve been in the sun too long,” she says.  They both do a double take to make sure the line is hammered home.  Yes, we get the George Hamilton in-joke.  We’re smarter than the creators of “Malibu,” so we chuckled, kind of, when it was said.  They then go to Ann’s have sex and she shows him the footage they have shot for the show about him, even mentioning Mr. X.  Whose side is she on anyway?  “Any good lawyer would kick you out of bed,” he says before kissing her again.  They banter, and it seems Ann is out of her league.  James has been at this a lot longer, but he figures he can trip her up an still bag the babe.

When Richard arrives home to find Jenilee not there, he panics and somehow figures out she’s with her friends, a rock group playing insanely loud music with lots of 80s guitar riffs while the girls dance with their arms in that style that hopefully will never come back.  Since he can’t be heard inside, we have to groan through a pantomime routine until she leaves, only to pout in the car as he yells at her.  “Don’t speak to me…I am not a poodle!” she insists.  “Yes and no, poodles can be very lovable,” he replies.  A horrible comic scene full of voices and jokes and everything terrible follows before we find out he’s broke (as if we hadn’t guess that yet by the cheap lunches and paint peeling off the house).  Jenilee has bought herself a riding outfit.  “You don’t have to ride to have a riding outfit,” she tells him.  What the hell are these two doing?  I can’t believe I like the cuckoo drama more than the cuckoo comedy.

It’s the night of Valerie’s big party.  Everyone is there.  Eva Marie spends her time chasing James, threatening him that he’s in for it if he flaunts his affair at the party.  Susan gets smashed to avoid having to mingle sober because she thinks William and Valerie are having an affair, Anthony promises stardom to young actresses, an ancient authoress takes up everyone’s time.  Valerie and George are tennis partners, though Kim is suspicious of him.  Jenilee tries her best to keep up with everyone’s conversations, but that’s not likely, possibly spoiling every attempt Richard makes at networking.

To fill time, there are encounters such as this head scratcher: blonde 20something actress (and I use the term loosely because she can barely get out a line) Monique St. Pierre asks Susan, “if you had the choice between an iffy Broadway play and six months in ‘The King and I,’ which would you do?”  Huh?  I suppose that depends on the roles.  In “The King and I,” what would she be?  There are three female roles and she’s not Asian enough for two.  Susan comes down on the side of ‘The King and I,” naturally.    Susan overhears Valerie and the ancient authoress talking about Valerie’s new boyfriend, so that’s when she bumps into Chad Everett, inevitably Mr. Right Now.  He offers her lessons, “if you want me to” he says with matinee idol grandeur.

What always happens at these parties where the entire cast is assembled?  Violence!  Eva goes to tear James away from Ann, Richard does the same with Jenilee and then William slugs Steve Forrest, who has just entered the party dressed for a safari.  “Keep the juices flowing, the fun’s just beginning,” Valerie says before the entire cast does reaction shots to William that lead to freeze frames flattering to absolutely none of them.  It is truly the most bizarre ending of a first part I can remember.  But, it’s no less witless than anything else that’s been done, except I’m sure it was considered “creative” at the time.

The morning after…

Valerie descends the stairs slower than Norma Desmond because she’s so hungover and Steve has apparently slept over.  He wants to sue William for decking him, because “it could delay production on my new series.”  “You don’t have a new series,” Valerie reminds him.  “It’s in the works.”

Susan has no hangover and she drank the most.  She can even manage a tennis lesson with Chad, who tells her “no time spent with you is wasted” as she shows a stunning inability to pick up the fundamentals of the game.  When Chad and Susan leave (the former to follow Susan, which pisses off James, who can’t have his lesson), there is one of those continuity errors that are so much fun to see.  Chad is wearing  a completely different color outfit than seconds previously.  In the romance department, Chad might be considered lacking as he remembers past match points that did not go his way instead of anything lovey dovey.  He is earnest, one can’t deny that, giving the same performance he always does, and sticking to it.  When Susan admits that her attempt at college acting didn’t work, and her professor had a particularly biting remark about her Blanche DuBois (that would be the fault of whoever cast the production–can anyone imagine Susan as Blanche?  Neither can I, and apparently she also played Lady Macbeth), Chad ever-so-seriously notes, “maybe my line judge became your assistant professor.”  Susan doesn’t even flinch at that howler of a line.  The scene drags on and on, with Chad’s monotone getting even worse with his take that one can’t worry about the future, “fatalistic ballyhoo,” he calls it.  At times it seems he’s flirting with her, but because his vocal and facial expressions never change, it’s impossible to tell for sure.  Even Susan looks confused (and sleepy).

Blame it on the Midwest, I suppose, but after even 25 seconds of lunch with George Hamilton, William still doesn’t realize he’s about to be scammed out of oodles of money.

When a very furious Kim Novak shows up at George’s place with his bounced check, he’s telling a mover, “don’t you know the difference between a real Matisse and a fake Matisse?  The fake is a lot harder to paint,” and then gives her the jibber jabber as he attempts to lower her to the bed.  She’s not buying.  He gives her another check, but she’s not that stupid (the only person in the movie who can claim that) and wants cash.  He hands her the $8K check William had just given him.  She knows whatever he’s sold William is phony, and he admits it too, though claiming it’s a good lesson for the guy to learn.  George continues to fleece her, telling her of a grand plan to get James’ money before they kiss over the kitchen counter.  A apologize, I was in error previously: Kim is a stupid as everyone else in the movie.

William has become so entranced by Malibu (as the title song predicted), that he starts to get a bit bug-eyed and fixated, telling Susan he wants to move there, despite all of her very real and practical reasons why they can’t (the kids, the cost, etc.).  “You know what this place has done to us!” Susan barks.

Pause for a second.  We’ve been through half the movie with only a suggestion that either William or Susan has cheated, but nothing definitive.  They haven’t had enough screen time to have changed THAT much.

Un-pause.  The yelling continues and Susan wants to know what the hell is happening to them as a couple (the rest of us really don’t care, so stop shouting).  “Let’s pack up and leave today!” she begs.  “I want to stay,” Bug Eyes retorts.  “Our marriage won’t survive it!” she insists.  This is a lovely course in the basics of banal dialogue, but it ends on a laugh-riot exit line for William: “If it’s so flimsy it can’t stand up to perfect weather, then perhaps it shouldn’t survive!”  I think perfect weather is either the #4 or #5 biggest causes of divorce, right?  I’ll have to consult an almanac to be sure.

Already-has-an-Oscar Eva Marie and will-eventually-have-an-Oscar James Coburn (both of which should be taken away for “Malibu” alone) have a nasty battle over breakfast where Eva Marie demands he give up Ann, spitting words like “cheap” and “tawdry” and threatening to kill Ann (with what, your expensive handbag?), James says “no you won’t.  You’re against all forms of violence, they’ll remove you from all of your precious committees.”  As she’s arguing with shrill diction, George interrupts the argument with some of his con artist shtick, which both seem to actually go for.

Not realizing there is a price on her head via mobster granny Eva Marie, Ann watches what turns out to be a disastrous interview with Mr. X, who, as James predicted, would not reveal any details.  Wouldn’t it have been smarter to actually show the interview happening and Ann reacting to it live?  Doing it this way, Ann is forced to sit and watch it like she’s seeing it for the first time.  She’s not, considering she was there!  “I don’t like being made a fool of!” Ann growls at her producer.  “Hey, we lost,” he says.  “I don’t want to lose, not to someone who fights dirty!” she snaps  Wait, isn’t that how she’s been playing all along?  She also realizes she may have told James a little too much.  You think?  You know, if I were a crusading journalist who wanted to jump to the network and was just quashed by a powerful man, I know to whom I would go to rectify that.  Of course, his angrier-than-Medea wife!  Well, there is the problem of Ann being the cause of Eva Marie’s anger, but perhaps they can sort that out.  Let’s see what happens.  It seems obvious enough to you or me, but this is “Malibu” after all, a colony full of rampaging morons.

Her producer, walking out, says, “maybe the Pope will visit Disneyland and you can get an exclusive.”  Ah, yes, kick her with sarcasm when she’s down.  Ann is then forced to deliver an Emmy-baiting bit (onto which no one could possibly chomp), with tears welling as she says, “I don’t like losing, I never did.  And I never will!”

While jogging on the beach, William sees Valerie (a mere Oscar nominee) at her French windows, which she leaves open.  He takes that as a cue and goes inside looking for her.  He doesn’t just look for her, he scours the place, going through every room on the first level, with the camera in tow to make a viewer almost car sick from the journey.  She’s naked in yet another Jacuzzi upstairs.  They flirt for a while, where she asks him point blank if he wants to have sex, but they also catch us up on some plot points that we didn’t miss because we’re watching the damn thing.  With bubbles gliding around her, she informs him that George’s financial deals are fake and that he only used her name to get William to throw in his money.  “I think young executive just lost his shirt,” she says.  “I think young executive is going to attack lady in hot tub,” he replies, pulling off his shoes.  Did they both have strokes, leaving them unable to speak in complete sentences?

Alas, Susan is not in San Francisco, as she told William she would be.  No, she’s in a cheap motel in post-coital confusion with Chad.  “I guess not too many people come to motels to look at the paintings,” Chad says, in the same voice as always, after Susan dumps on the art work.  Again, I think he’s actually saying it seriously, but we’ll never know for sure.  Rain Man Susan has another one of those perfect recall moments when she tells Chad that “according to statistics, 35% of people who stay in motels are having affairs.”  “Shouldn’t that be an even number?” he asks, as if he knows an even versus an odd number.  Chad believes they are now officially together and proposes marriage, still serious and wooden.

Oh, and Chad also needs money to start up a sportswear company, but he’s short of the money needed.  One might expect him to sweet talk it from his new lady love, but she’s broke.  He plans to go after James, just like everybody else.

Remember Jenilee and Richard?  I know, you were hoping they had disappeared completely.  Jenilee drags him to meet her young friends, who say they love the script and want to shoot it, though with many changes.  Since they have the cash to finance it, he has to go with their changes.  The main change is to make the 57-year old bank president into a 20something elevator operation at the Empire State Building who even has a way to work a band into the story.  Richard’s confusion upon leaving is completely understandable as that was one crackpot scene.  An elevator operator?  In 1983?  Will the sequel concern a Fotomat employee in 2006, an equally extinct job?

“What exactly is your price…women like you charge, don’t they?” Eva Marie asks Ann, accosting her in a parking lot.  And then BINGO, my prediction comes true (because clever plotting is completely absent from “Malibu”).  Eva Marie offers Ann all the dirt she has on her husband if Ann will leave James.  Will Ann choose love or ambition?

George convinced James to wager on their mixed doubles tennis final, knowing full well he could never win, and also knowing that club rules allow for a replacement (he fakes an injury), and that replacement can be anyone, including former pro champ Chad Everett!  Chad feels it’s “inappropriate,” but George and Kim, who is in for a share, convince him.

Even the filthy rich shop for groceries.  That’s where Jenilee finds Anthony (now a sweater over his shoulders), bumping into him on purpose, so klutzy that, as Richard says, she would knock down the “Leaning Tower of Pizza.”  Wow, there’s a fresh joke.  Her flirting, whether real or not, of course works.

It should be a problem for James to now give money to Chad for his new business, right?  They will be on opposite sides of the court.  James has a plan, of course, but Chad doesn’t realize it, as one would suspect of this lobotomized patient.  James dances around it for a while and agrees to give him the money, though it takes extra long for Chad to realize he’s supposed to throw the match for the money.

Anthony had no idea that the man Jenilee was raving about was dorky Richard, who flies over to Anthony’s house.  Anthony agrees to direct the picture, but he wants changes and here’s the twist: Anthony wants to make the script YOUNGER and use the band that Richard has already seen.  Isn’t that cute?  Someone kill this plot soon…please!

Boring though he may be, there is something moral in Chad.  He goes home to tell his wife not to come watch the match.  She assumes he’s having an affair, but “don’t tell me, not in this robe and not with my hair up like this,” as if the news will have a better impact with a change of hairdo.  No, no, nothing like that, he merely tells her he’s going to throw the match.  THEN he lowers the boom about his new love, saying he wants “a new kind of life, and with that money this afternoon, I can make it happen.”  “Is she worth it?”  “I’d tank in the finals at Wimbledon if she were second prize,” he says of Susan, whom he’s known for a few days.  When he tells his wife Susan will be there, she decides she’ll be at the match as well.

Tennis, anyone?  When we join the match, James and Ann are up and Chad is playing so badly that when he misses a shot, William clucks, “I could have hit that one!”  Once again, check out the close-ups, as they are obviously shot indoors, obvious both in look and sound.  Kim is mighty worried, with money at stake.  Valerie isn’t happy either, especially when Chad double faults on a set point.  “I have a lot of money riding on this game…I bet my shrink $50 we would win this thing!” she tells him.  I think that’s supposed to be funny, so laugh.  Or not.  Get a load of the extras too, as they have to spin their heads this way and that pretending to watch tennis.  Fed up spectating at such a horror, Chad’s wife leaves, and when he sees her open seat, he’s confused.  Or so the music tells us, Chad isn’t that good an actor.  He knows what he has to do…which is play his best and win!  He’s morality has returned.

And so has his game.  He roars back, winning every point in a flashy quick-moving sequence where the teams go into the third set tied.  James is hopping mad and Ann gets pissy too.  At home, Eva Marie smashes a mirror (she’s exempt from seven years of bad luck for having slogged through “Malibu” with a kernel of dignity).

Chad serves for match point.  It’s an ace.  Game, set, match.

“Let’s go, it’s all over,” William says to Susan as everyone is filing out.  If only he knew.  “You lost, you really lost!” James tells Chad menacingly.  George and Kim are happy.  At least someone is.

Susan goes to Bridget Hanley, Chad’s wife with all of the hair problems.  She knows before Susan can tell her that he won the match.  “I saw where he was looking every time they changed court,” Bridget notes to Susan, but Susan reminds her that by winning, he gave up his dreams of a new life.  “He tried to throw that match and he couldn’t…I think it was because he didn’t want to lose you,” says the world’s worst mistress, Susan Dey.  There is an attempt at a plot twist here, when Bridget tells her that Chad does this “every summer,” finally an explanation for her worry-free attitude.  Next summer, “I hope the woman is as nice as you,” Bridget adds.  Awww, what an understanding wife!  I guess when your hubby’s other woman is a milquetoast lump like Susan’s character, you don’t get too upset.

As if losing the tennis match isn’t bad enough, Ann tells James she is going forward with her dirt-digging piece.  “Atta girl,” James says, impressed, but maybe a trifle displeased.  Cue the telephone, a call for James from Eva Marie, who has just taken enough pills to off the whole cast of “War and Remembrance.”  Luckily, he only lives two doors away, and gets there before she dies.  The doctor very seriously warns him that she will try again, but ends with a joke!  Yes, on his way out, after James thanks him for saving Eva Marie’s life, he quips, “wait till you see my bill.”  Is that REALLY necessary?

What will happen to Ann’s story now?  Her Deep Throat is not going to blab if James returns to her, if he does.  When she wakes up, he berates her for having “no respect for human life” when she cares about every other species.  Will they stay together or will she “go East for good”as they both decide is mutually advantageous?

Also leaving the nest is Jenilee.  This comes out of the blue, for us and for Richard.  What about her stuff?  “Maybe you could have a yard sale.”  “I don’t have a yard!” he roars.  Oh, and Jenilee is leaving him for Anthony.  It would be great if this meant her dumb blonde act was just that, an act, but no, she has fallen for Anthony’s smooth talking just like she did with Richard.

Also also leaving is George.  Well, actually, to be honest, he’s already gone.  Kim goes to his home to find it empty.  “I guess there’s deadbeats everywhere, even Malibu,” a moving man sagely opines.  Kim sucks in her cheeks tighter (the only trick she’s displayed acting-wise since the 50s).

Also also also leaving is Susan, leaving three days before the lease is up, much to William’s annoyance.  He doesn’t want to go back to his dull life.  “I want my future here,” he insists.  What follows is the conversation all couples in a miniseries who are at-heart-good-people-who-make-bad-decisions have to have.  She knows they can’t be happy here, he doesn’t think they can be happy there, but they have to go back to find a way forward.  “I want to be wanted, not as a convenience or a crutch or an excuse.  I want to be more important than money, success or the perfect climate.  I want to be the most most important human being in the world to just one other person.  Is that asking too much?”  No, probably not, but you could have said it better, as that was awfully voluble for such ho-hum sentiment.

William goes out on the porch, waves hello to neighbor Troy Donahue and of course decides to go home with Susan.  He’s a bit more mixed-up than she is, warning her that when it’s snowy and the kids are sick, she better not complain, because he’s doing what she wanted, then stuffing in “because I want you.”  That’s the dialogue equivalent of smacking someone and then handing her an ice pack.  “There’s one thing more I want…to be kissed,” Susan cries, giving them a perfect clinch to end their plot.

That just leaves Ann, who decides to go ahead and dig the dirt on James.  He’s not worried.  As he tells his lawyer, people will talk and then “there will be a national disaster of some sort, a war in the Middle East, the garbage collectors will go on strike.  It will all be forgotten,” he says philosophically, naming three huge events that don’t make for a very good punch line.  He doesn’t want his lawyer to put a stop to anything.  “To be successful is her only desire.  Let’s see if she can handle it,” he says with a grin.  Is he impressed with her moxie or awaiting her downfall?

Kim has new couples who want rentals while Susan and William pack up the car, to the consternation of Troy Donahue, finally shown up close, who will miss the neighbors he never really knew.  Kim tells a potential couple, “last summer was positively sensational.” I guess she saw a different movie.

What is, I assume, supposed to be “Grand Hotel” by the beach, “Malibu”is one of those everyone-in-the-pool affairs that thankfully did not do permanent damage to the miniseries.  “Malibu” is just too plain brainless to do harm to anything except itself.  Why did all of these people take roles in it?  Beats me, it couldn’t have been the script they were shown.  On top of that, a story celebrating the rich looks awfully cheap and hobbled together physically.  The plots are uneven, which isn’t abnormal in a piece like this, but usually they are skewed toward the more interesting characters.  Unfortunately, there are no interesting characters here, just cardboard figures played as such.  One could compare it to the very exemplar of miniseries trash, “Hollywood Wives,” which knows enough to laugh at itself as it soars wildly over the top.  “Malibu” has no such self-awareness.  The oft-quoted essence of “Grand Hotel” is “people come, people go, nothing ever happens.”  What Vicki Baum and those who have successfully reworked it are saying is that no matter who you are or what your problems are in life, big or small, you are just one person among zillions.  “Malibu” seems to have understood only the final part of the claim: nothing ever happens.

 

Categories: Romance Miniseries

4 Comments to “Malibu (1983)”

  1. lauren 23 November 2011 at 1:29 am #

    omg! what ever happened to Jennilee?

  2. Bj 23 November 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    I suppose she took too much career advice from Joyce DeWitt.

  3. sirmilton4203 25 January 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    I remember this series!! Even when I was 22-I thought it was pretty hokey! But the review on this page made m laugh out loud!!

    • Bj Kirschner 1 February 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Hokey is a great word! I’m convinced “Malibu” tried to be the stupidest miniseries at least of that season. 🙂


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