15 April 2004 | RJV
Rodney Earns No Respect Here
Do you find Rodney Dangerfield amusing? Would you like to see an entertaining Dangerfield film? Then avoid THE 4TH TENOR. It is a pitiful vanity project where Rodney generally neglects his strengths and wallows in sickening bathos.
As a prosperous Italian restaurant owner named Lupo, Dangerfield falls in love with a young luscious singer Gina (Annabelle Gurwitch). She doesn't return his affections, especially since Lupo can't sing opera. So he goes to Italy to take opera lessons. There, he meets a sweet local girl named Rosa (Anita De Simone) and learns the secret of great singing. Will Lupo find true love? Who really cares?
Part of the problem with THE 4TH TENOR is that Dangerfield is far less interested in generating laughs than in endearing himself to his audience. Rarely does he spew his customary one-liners. Instead he spends an awful lot of time acting lovelorn and wistful. But his strivings for sentimentality are so humorless and effortful, he becomes embarrassingly cloying. Even more disturbing is the concept of the geriatric, physically homely Dangerfield romancing women young enough to be his granddaughters. Part of the appeal in Dangerfield's stand-up act was that he acknowledged he was ugly and therefore unsuccessful with women. If he wanted to be a romantic lead in his dotage, why couldn't Rodney pursue women his own age?
The pedestrian supporting cast cannot enliven the dreary material. They are the type of bland performers you'd expect in a film deemed too poor for theatrical release.
THE 4TH TENOR is truly a morbid experience. One watches an embalmed looking man who, in attempting to touch our hearts, dies in the course of his performance, a once bright star whose career has been dying. If this is the best Rodney can offer, it's time for him to retire.