1 October 2017 | A_Different_Drummer
Barefoot in the Park (1967) a Half Century Later
Some have said that Napoleon would have been nothing without Waterloo. The subtext of this movie may well be that the Baby Boomers, once the top demographic on the planet, having failed to improve the political system or the economic system, or to manifest especially noteworthy parenting skills -- in fact, having failed to improve the planet in any detectable way -- may best be remembered for simply getting old.
If that theorem is to be proved anywhere, it would be in this wonderful movie.
This may be a shock to the younger IMDb members, but at one time Redford and Fonda were not merely the biggest stars in Hollywood but also the biggest sex symbols in the biz.
If in 1967 -- please put on your time travel, butterfly effect, hats here -- you had suggested to these two that a full half-century later they would star is a laid-back but irrefutably charming rom-com where, in the very first scene, Fonda shows up at Redford's door and politely asks if he would mind sleeping with her ... well, let's just say that a raised eyebrow would be least you could expect in return
The script is so subtle (a word I have astonishingly used only a very few times in some 1350+ reviews here) that the viewer does not know whether to laugh or cry. Even the way Redford's character chooses to initially respond to the invitation -- not by a 411.com search, but by looking up Fonda's phone number in a handwritten address book his late wife had left behind -- brings an unavoidable smile to those who grasp the passage of time.
The dialog is a joy. It has ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and most importantly never quite heads in the direction you expect it to.
In fact -- this for film historians only -- it may be a true breakthrough in concept. Remember that in the 1970s scriptwriters tried to "take the rom-com up a notch" by deliberately cutting out the "boy meets girl" portion of the traditional formula. Dozens of rom-coms since that era have started with the very first scene taking place "the morning after," leaving the audience to wonder how the original romance blossomed, before getting caught up in the subsequent events.
In that context, the premise here, if this film resonates with people in the months and years to come, could become a milestone in rom-coms. And deservedly so.