The War of the Roses
1989
Danny DeVito directs and co-stars in this explosive portrayal of a 17-year marriage gone wrong. Oliver (Michael Douglas) and Barbara (Kathleen Turner) Rose are calling it quits as a couple, but neither wants to give up ownership of their house. Instead of going about an amicable negotiation, they declare all-out war on each other, with alternately hilarious and horrifying results. Sean Astin and Heather Fairfield co-star as their neglected children.

Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

There's a curious thing happening in Danny DeVito's black-hearted send-up of American divorce: Nothing. The material seems to scream out for an over-the-top approach, as we see a bitterly estanged husband and wife do things to each other on screen that no husband and wife would do in reality, but what plays like escalation of the conflict is in fact its culmination, and the film never breaks through to a truly madcap, screw-loose level of marital warfare. That's not to say that I think the film should get cartoony, as one of its strengths is the intelligence and refinement with which its characters carry out their cruel revenge against each other, but there's the unmistakable impression that the film is merely getting warmed up when it ends. Perhaps that's because DeVito's original cut, over 3 hours long, was pared down to under 2 hours by studio insistence, and what's left plays like a nine-course meal if you only get to eat half of each course. There's good material, but it's disappointing.

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