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DVD Review: Getting it Right

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Gavin (Jesse Birdsall) is a dishwater dull lead 31-yr old virgin hairdresser who lives with his parents, has high tastes in fine art, and a gay best friend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but is it any wonder why he has trouble with women? The cover art for the MGM Limited Edition Collection release of Getting It Right uses a pink color scheme that seems to answer the question better than the three unpleasant women who circle around and eventually land on the protagonist of this unpleasant coming-of-age movie that, twenty years after its initial release, seems to get little if anything right.

The film’s opening credits politely flash over quietly iconic images of London while the music screams why is my body changing, in a polite and proper English milieu of course. Randal Kleiser, the director of The Blue Lagoon, achieves something unheard of here by directing a coming of age film that may be more painful to watch than that camp classic. The pedestrian title is just the start of where it gets wrong. An inner-dialogue narration that was apparently in vogue at the time is mostly along the inane lines of, “What a night!” which Gavin proclaims to himself at one point after having had an exciting night. There’s this thing called acting that conveys emotions like excitement and discovery, and apparently the film’s producers could neither trust their lead nor give him the guidance to express this emotion without the benefit of voice-over clarification.

Gavin meets two of his would-be paramours at a party thrown by socialite Lynn Redgrave, sporting a flaming red Ziggy Stardust wig for no apparent reason other than to take it off and wave her natural dark brown hair back and forth before seducing her dull virgin. Lady Minerva Monday is a very young Helena Bonham Carter who, with no help from the director, had not yet learned how to deliver a modulated performance. Poor The Future Mrs. Tim Burton is all over the place, never getting a convincing grip on what could have been an interesting eccentric young Lady. The unfortunate elder statesmen in this film include Peter Cook as Mr. Adrian, owner of the shop where Gavin works, and Sir John Gielgud, Lady Minerva’s Lord Father, but their august presences cannot save the lines they are fed. The only person resembling a human being on hand is Pat Heywood as Gavin’s mother. Heywood would have done a better job directing than Mr. Kleiser just by her example.

Critical assessment of this film varies wildly, from Roger Ebert’s inexplicable 4-star review to the more common sentiments of Moviehole’s Clint Morris, who wrote, “Never [before] had I thought like cutting up a video tape.” MGM has revived this film for its Limited Edition Collection and as with other titles in the collection offers no extras on the DVD-R, but the best thing the studio could do is direct you to another coming of age movie. Just pick one, any one – if it doesn’t have a roman numeral in its title, it’s better than this.

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About Pat Padua

Pat Padua is a writer, photographer, native Washingtonian, and Oxford comma defender. The Washington Post called him "a talented, if quirky, photographer." Pat has also contributed to the All Music Guide, Cinescene, and DCist, where he is currently senior film critic.