Go to Homepage   Parallel Lives: Loving No-good-niks

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The Linda Yellen Company/Paramount (VHS), ASIN 6303355064

If reunions promised this much romance, how could anybody keep us away? Gena Rowlands stars as the glamour girl skunked by Campus Rat # 1, Ben Gazzara. JoBeth Williams learns the Woman-As-Oatmeal Theory from Campus Rat # 2, James Belushi. Lindsay Crouse -- now a rock star -- brings a dubious friend, who will change identities. Even Treat Williams turns up as Rat # 3 -- the All-Time-Champeeeen!

dvd: parallel lives These Big Men On Campus roles allow Frat Boys to commiserate as they try -- one more time -- to hook their Dream Girls. Too many walked away from love and never stopped wondering, What if? Meanwhile, the females kept wondering, too: what if they'd decked that sucker the way he deserved? Nobody can surpass Rowlands at her elegant putdown: "Please forgive me. I have the memory of a gnat."

These characters specialize in the Teflon maneuver -- glancing the other way before they scream. JoBeth Williams and Belushi collide because both consider themselves premier journalists. The secret that Belushi's character keeps in his pocket, though, wreaks havoc among co-conspirators. He records confessions he can wheedle out of his confidants. Then he publishes their most outrageous revelations.

If someone could dream up a motive for murder, who could beat that? Well, whenever Gazzara leans on Rowlands for a share of her new fortune, we witness looks that would leave a lesser Rat dead. When Frat Boys reenact their favorite extracurricular activity -- a panty-raid -- we also realize college meant mayhem to every one of them. These Sorority Sisters gave up crying, though, long before their twentieth shindig.

Creative direction of revenge scenes yields one-of-a-kind memories. When Belushi makes his own confession -- JoBeth Williams supplies the missing oatmeal in his empty bowl of life -- we expect her to start throwing the china in every direction. And when the college sleepover champion admits his only philosophy consists of "So many women, so little time," who doesn't want to sock him? For their own reasons, every male tries to land a punch.

But this movie outdoes itself as the rock star composes the title song with her muse at her ear. How can we bridge the distance, this film asks, between our Parallel Lives? The reunion that these Greeks await consists of merging their dreams with the lives that never evolved as imagined. Just to witness the words emerging, as each note falls into place, means that art thrives in the chaos driven by broken hearts. Crouse and Dudley Moore synchronize in a fabulous duet here -- resolving remorse.

The dance scenes will make every audience member wish s/he'd crashed this event. Each time Belushi curls his body into a graceful pirouette, we treasure a rare cinematic opportunity. Paul Sorvino turns up at the perfect moment, too, defending woman's honor -- and we just cheer! Liza Minnelli gets the main theme exactly right: "Passion in Action!" Half of Hollywood appears in this cast, but the best choice remains yours -- enjoy this movie, or just wish your reunion exploded like this one?

Meg Curtis

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