Best Friends (1982)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Marriage Drama, Romantic Comedy  |   Run Time - 116 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Michael Hastings

Darker than it has any right to be, Barry Levinson and Valerie Curtin's semiautobiographical tale provides some genuine moments of inspiration for its usually unchallenged lead performers Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn, but ultimately, the film can't reconcile the gulf between its dramatic and comedic moments. Posing the same can-a-friendship-survive-a-relationship question that would later be answered with a resounding "yes" by the feel-good hit When Harry Met Sally, Best Friends is most interesting when it catches its characters in a state of comic self-delusion. Reynolds' sardonic sense of humor is put to good use in scenes involving the couple's extemporaneous marriage and their subsequent in-law encounters (featuring spry supporting turns from Jessica Tandy, Barnard Hughes, Keenan Wynn, and Audra Lindley). But when things get unremittingly ugly in the film's last third, the emotional and physical abuse seems to come out of nowhere, and what's meant as a bittersweet coda plays more like a smiley-face fastened atop a divorce agreement.