Travels With My Aunt (1972)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy  |   Release Date - Dec 17, 1972 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Not outré enough to be a cult film, Travels With My Aunt nevertheless is one of those movies that tends to divide its audience into those who love it and those who hate it. Those in the former group find many elements to praise. The screenplay, from Graham Greene's book, is clever and witty and features an array of original comic characters. Directors George Cukor and Gil Parondo have ensured that it has a marvelous look, with excellent contributions in the art direction, costume, and cinematography department. Maggie Smith's performance is delightfully over-the-top, a tour de force that matches the material perfectly. Detractors counter that the underlying message of the story is trite and unoriginal and that the screenplay, for all its cleverness, does not address that failing. Cukor and Parondo's pacing and tone are off, with some scenes that call for manic energy instead just lying there and others that call for a gentle touch being treated as zany comedy. And Smith's performance strikes many as going too far, to the point that it becomes alienating and annoying. Most can agree, however, that Alec McCowen gives a finely detailed, understated performance, Louis Gossett Jr. is hysterical, and Cindy Williams is surprisingly funny. Aunt ultimately doesn't work on all levels, but it's an interesting cinematic journey nonetheless.