15 December 2016

Big Business (starring Lily Tomlin and Better Midler)

This is another DVD that was recommended to me by Amazon, and sounded interesting, so I put it on my wishlist. I was given it for my birthday nearly two years ago, and had quite forgotten what the blurb said when we decided to watch it recently. I somehow had the idea that it was about people on stage - but was quite wrong.

‘Big Business’ starts with a classic mix-up in a hospital in the 1940s. A wealthy couple are passing through a small town when the wife goes into labour with twins. At the same time, an impoverished farmer and his wife also go into labour, also with twins. Fathers, in those days, were not permitted to be present at the birth, and the harassed nurses manage to muddle the babies up. Even more confusingly, both sets of parents decide on the same pair of names for their twin girls…

The story then moves forward around thirty years. The wealthy Rose and Sadie are businesswomen; Rose (Lily Tomlin)) is hard-hitting and materialistic, while the quieter Sadie (Bette Midler) often feels out of place, and hates to hurt people. Meanwhile the farming community Rose also feels as if she doesn’t belong in the countryside, and longs to see the world, while Sadie is very much at home there.

It’s all caricatured, of course, and the premise is ridiculous, but it sets the scene for a surprisingly enjoyable comedy. Neither of us is particularly keen on slapstick, but the script is clever and there’s some excellent direction as the pairs of sisters manage to cause confusion and avoid meetings by split seconds until the inevitable final realisation that they have met their doubles. Yes, much is predictable, but part of the fun was watching for what we knew was going to happen.

It's not pure fluff; there’s a great deal more to the story. Politics, business and relationships with men are all part of this film, which is unusual and original for the 1980s in having businesswomen as the main characters, while most of the men around them are either a bit clueless or somewhat hapless.

Overall it made a very enjoyable light evening’s viewing that didn’t require any deep thought, and which made us laugh more than once. Inevitably it feels quite dated at times without technology everywhere, but that was quite refreshing.

Rated PG, probably because there's almost no bad language and no nudity, although there are implied intimacies off-stage. Unlikely to be of much interest to younger children anyway.

Recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

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