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  • I am only giving this film a "5" out of respect for it's cast headed by Walter Matthau, Charles Grodin, Steve Martin, Bill Macy, Tyne Daly, Gilda Radner, Penny Marshall, and Vincent Gardenia. Otherwise it is a peculiar satire on Hollywood that never quite works.

    Walter Matthau works at a large studio, now run by William Prince. Matthau is a successful producer there, but his mentor was Gardenia, who was once a great producer. But Gardenia has been going downhill, both creatively and physically. He has wasted millions of dollars on a film about the prehistoric world, and has even set up a huge dinosaur from the film on the grounds of the studio (much to a fed up Prince's anger). But Gardenia is taken off all other projects. He is now dying, and Matthau goes to see him. Gardenia, on the death bed, forces Matthau to do a film on a book he has just bought: a sexual guidebook. Matthau says he will, knowing it is a ridiculous promise.

    After Gardenia's death Matthau takes a close look into the sex book. This is the most popular sex guide in America, but the point is brought out in the film that if one thinks of sex lightly, as a powerful explosion from the emotion of love, it is easy to show in film, on stage, on television, on radio, in novels and short stories, or in paintings and sculpture. But if the actual physical activities involved were to be studied in a film (not a pornography film, by the way), it becomes boring.

    Still Matthau tries. He consults with Macy, a fabled film director (involved in a torrid and complicated affair with Radner - it ends when they wound each other in a shoot out). Macy's approach is to remind us of all the great film lovers of the past (Bogart among them) and how "dependable" they were. Matthau talks to Grodin, a leading screenplay writer. Grodin can't see where the drama needed for the film will come in. Matthau is advised to see the last of the great silent film lovers, the "ageless" Martin (once a rival of Valentino). He keeps talking of decades old romantic moments - but all is for naught when Matthau and Grodin and Macy see Martin is now henpecked by his harridan wife (Marshall).

    As you can see the film certainly had great direction in the script, except that despite the energy of the cast it just never rose above the one point: that discussing the physical activity of sex on film is not going to make a good movie. Somehow the script dropped a somewhat promising element: that a desperate Matthau might start dropping away from what Gardenia wished and produced a film that was a sex comedy. But for that to have fully worked, Gardenia's wacko character would have had to be alive throughout the film, and he would have had to keep the sense of taking the credit for the success of Matthau's changing the production plan to save the project. That never happens.

    I think the film tried to be philosophical but never got beyond presenting the main argument. It was a poor choice to make. MOVERS & SHAKERS may never have been a promisingly great film, but it might have been an amusing one. It is not too amusing now. Definitely not worthy of it's cast's energies at all.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is a startlingly good look at the kinds of internal politics that drive the movie business. It's occasionally very funny, sometimes not nearly as funny as you'd like. It's always pretty dry humor. But the truth that this picture has to tell is pretty dead on. There is a scene of a script conference that is a deadly accurate portrayal of the kind of meeting where the participants hype themselves into thinking they've actually decided something, but there is no content. It also has one of the best scenes about non-communication in a relationship that I've ever seen. While the movie is far from perfect, it is filled with gemlike moments, and well worth seeing.
  • mbirchjr27 May 2018
    One of my favorite films of all time. So very quotable with an unforgettable performance from Bill Macy. This film stands up to many, many viewings. I've seen it over 25 times.
  • i just got done watching this movie on TCM, & i found it very funny. i saw the listing with Matthau & Grodin, & i didn't even bother to read the synopsis. That was enough for me. The story about a studio that buys the title of a book, simply for the title -- not the subject of the book. the movie focuses on how the movie studios will focus group & committee an idea to death. (a la the TV series "Action"). the young studio hot-shot keeps complaining about the 'old' age of the people working on the project ('why him? what is he 50?'). typical of the youth obsession in Hollywood, & the discarding of people in their middle-ages. those with NO life experience who trash fine or even classic movies by doing flat & soulless remakes, by flat & soulless performers. or by making inane movies about TV shows just because they grew up on those shows. that's today's Hollywood : No Real Stars, No Real Personas. just flat soulless surgically enhanced hacks. Could anyone recognize an impression of any of todays so-called stars? (& no i don't mean their catch-phrases). where's the talent of a Bogey, Gable, Carey Grant, Bette Davis, or Myrna Loy. or of a Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, or Matthau? they don't make talent like that anymore. before the movie Charles Grodin asked the question : "because of today's audiences having better knowledge of the Hollywood system, would the movie play better today than it did in 1985 ?" sadly based on the other reviews here it would appear that the answer is no. i gave it 6 stars. nothing special, just a good comedy that features two of the best at their craft : Matthau & Grodin.
  • OtherDaryl25 November 2007
    This aired on TCM last night, selected by guest programmer/star/screenwriter Charles Grodin. Classic? Hardly! He seems fairly proud of this pic, though, which allows an extremely talented cast to either overplay or underplay to agonizing effect. Director Asher (an Emmy winner for Bewitched) was better in the half hour television format. A complete waste of time. I think it's supposed to satirize the dying Hollywood studio system. It was movies like this that killed it. Pairing Bill Macy and Gilda Radner as a couple? Penny Marshall is credited and we hear her voice, but to my recollection only ever actually see her feet. Tyne Daly stands around with nothing substantive to do but be ticked off.
  • aberlour3624 February 2002
    This is surely one of the worst movies ever made. A comedy without a single laugh. The stupidity of the script, blame Charles Grodin for the entire film, is amazing. Steve Martin's performance was low, even for him. In short, awful and without redeeming features.
  • This movie has everything: Inane writing; heavy-handed direction; call-in acting; a voice-over that attempts to tie a series of pointless scenes into a plot line. Someone lacked the courage to say no, no, no. Anything that might have been edited out would have doubtless been better than what was edited in. Student films are better. What's Up Tiger Lily was better. A Woody Woodpecker cartoon is better. A George Burns/Bea Arthur porno would be better.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I caught this on TCM the other night. I'm not a big fan of Grodin, but the other stars and the fact that I've never heard of it caught my attention.

    I think I understand what Grodin was trying to do. This main plot of the movie involved a bunch of movie-makers trying to make an "upbeat, romantic tribute to love" using the title of a sex book. The twist lies in the sub-text of the film as Grodin tries to showcase many different forms of love. But the problem lies in Grodin's insistence that love is a sad, horrible thing.

    Every relationship in the movie causes the characters to be miserable. Walter Matthau's love for his dying friend causes him to lose the respect of his peers. Charles Grodin's character can't communicate with his wife and is told by his doctor to masturbate. Macy & Radner marry, but their jealousy causes them to shoot each other. Martin & Marshall awkwardly bicker... etc..

    Grodin goes out of his way to mock traditional romance scenes (eg. beaches) and he seems to chastised them for being fake. He may have a point, but where is the comedy in revealing that love is full of fights, anger, violence, and only the occasional reconciliation? This movie is supposed to be a comedy, right? This movie would probably be a lot better if Grodin added a little more biting social commentary and billed the movie as a drama.
  • jotix10031 October 2005
    Most films start with good intentions by all the people involved in its creative process. It's a nightmare for the studio that produces a film like "Movers and Shakers" to watch the project turned into a lemon that no one will ever see. In fact, it was a surprise this showed recently on cable. Based on some of the names involved in it, we decided to take a look. Well, let's assume all the people that participated in it, won't include this experience in their resumes for future jobs within the movie industry.

    It's also a puzzle as to why did a talented man of the stature of Walter Matthau ever saw in the possibility of this turkey having any future. For that matter, Charles Grodin, who wrote the screen play, is seen as a writer who hasn't figured out how to do an adaptation of the book the dying studio head wants to be made into a film. It appears that Mr. Grodin was writing about what would be his own role in this ill conceived movie.

    Better keep surfing channels until something better is found.