review for Town & Country on AllMovie

Town & Country (2001)
by Karl Williams review

An abortive attempt to update the screwball comedy, this flop from director Peter Chelsom contains a few amusing sequences that don't make up for the rest of the film's failure to pick and choose elements from the genre that might resonate with modern audiences. Particularly offensive is the film's repeated foray into whipping up laughs by lampooning the central characters' Third World domestic staff; all that's missing is an urbane British butler and a comic in blackface. While the concept of domestic discord could certainly strike a familiar note with audiences, the problems of upper one-percenters who can simply board a private jet to Paris for a slice of birthday cake aren't going to resonate with many. Town & Country could have succeeded by penetrating beyond the façade of the world it's presenting and truly focusing on the inner life of its central character in the pattern of Arthur (1981), but Warren Beatty, like his co-stars, is playing a caricature who wants for nothing and whose motivations are unexplained. Maybe such superficiality is the entire point of the screwball genre, but if so, then the film needs to be funny. Unfortunately, Chelsom and his screenwriters (including the usually reliable Buck Henry) have concocted a mirthless farce for rich people with no sense of humor.