How Sweet It Is! opens with some groovy credits, but it goes downhill from there. One of Sweet's problems is that it was produced in 1968, rather than in 1965. Had it been created three years earlier, it would have benefited from the relative innocence and "safety" of early '60s sex comedies. By 1968, Hollywood felt inclined to deal with the sexual revolution and with other changing mores -- but only in the most tentative and artificial way. As a result, Sweet's attempts at being hip and "with it" are embarrassing and entirely unconvincing. The film also plays like a TV sitcom (not surprising, as its creators come from that background) rather than a film. Jerry Paris' direction is obvious and unimaginative, and this seems to seriously affect James Garner, whose work here is stilted and uninspired. Fortunately, Sweet does have Debbie Reynolds, who manages by sheer force of will to make the limp material work for her, demonstrating what a skilled comedienne she can be; her hangover scene is especially well done. The supporting cast also provides some welcome relief, with contributions from Paul Lynde and Terry-Thomas especially notable. Jimmy Webb's nifty score is also enjoyable. Sweet runs out of steam long before its ridiculous brothel finale, but Reynolds keeps it going until then.
by Craig Butler review