The War of the Roses


Action / Comedy / Romance


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February 08, 2014 at 11:59 AM



Michael Douglas as Oliver Rose
Danny DeVito as Gavin D'Amato
Sean Astin as Josh at 17
Kathleen Turner as Barbara Rose
1.85 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 56 min
P/S 5 / 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MovieAddict2016 10 / 10

Works on so many levels

DeVito is a hit-and-miss director. He's turned out some very good films and some very bad ones. Sometimes his satire just falls short ("Death to Smoochy," for example); however, "War of the Roses" is his strongest directorial effort to date.

It's got everything - a clever script, great interaction between its two stars, exciting thrills, funny gags (without ever resorting to unnecessary crudity), and to top it all off, the direction is very effective - DeVito is heavily influenced by Hitchcock and that is very clear in the final sequence, which is reminiscent of "Vertigo" and "Rear Window." Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner play the Rose couple - two once-happily-married people who are now, after many years together, bitter and at the end of their frustration. Deciding upon a divorce, they begin to split apart; however, negotiations regarding belongings begin to go awry as Oliver Rose (Douglas) demands more from his wife, claiming it's his money that purchased their enormous house and all objects inside.

DeVito turns in a performance as the narrator, and Oliver's lawyer, who tells us at the start we are about to watch a sad tale about divorce. By the time the film has ended we've seen events spiral totally out of control - beginning with absolute believability and ending in absolute absurdity.

That's the crucial part of all this. Black comedy relies on whether the dramatic arc of the content - the leap from reality to lunacy - can be believable. Many times in DeVito's film, it isn't. "Smoochy," for example, was clever satire at first, and fairly reminiscent of real-life people and events; then it turned into an over-the-top revenge rampage.

"War of the Roses" is more careful, and the arc is subtler. It's believable because the characters are given such room to grow and their conflict blossoms throughout the picture.

I'd classify "War of the Roses" as one of the funniest, cleverest and most underrated black comedies of the 1980s - it's one of my personal favorite movies and never fails to crack me up. A cult film? Maybe; but I think many more people would enjoy it if they gave it a chance.

Reviewed by Robert D. Ruplenas 8 / 10

not your typical Hollywood yukfest

Director Danny Devito and the writers are to be credited for following this story's dark premise straight to its grim conclusion, and not opting for a cop-out 'happy ending'. Maybe that accounts for the movie's relatively low user rating. Whatever. Turner and Douglas are superb here. I saw Douglas on the Carson show after the movie came out, relating how, after a day's shoot, he and Turner would get together to remind each other that they were still friends. Seeing the movie shows why they had to do this. Note how the movie begins in the openness and light of Nantucket in summer and gets progressively darker, ending in the claustrophobic closeness of the nailed-up house. A classic black comedy for grownups. Don't watch this one with your spouse unless you are on really good terms.

Reviewed by Robert J. Maxwell ([email protected]) 8 / 10

Marital Blitz

Give Danny DeVito the right story and he clicks. He does it here.

What do a tornado, a hurricane, and an ex-wife have in common? They all get the house. Except when the husband's lawyer manages to dig up some rule that allows the husband to stay in the house as long as he and his wife lead separate lives.

The husband is Douglas, the wife is Turner, and the lawyer and mediator is DeVito. There's also a housekeeper and two not especially lovable children (thank heavens for small favors) but they're probably less important than the husband's dog and the wife's cat.

So how do two rich yuppies lead separate lives in their mansion? Simple. First they ignore and curse each other while passing on the stairs. "Filthy slut," mutters Douglas. "Bastard," murmurs Turner. Finally Douglas proudly shows DeVito a plan that he has worked out with Turner. It is a blueprint of the house, divided into red, green, and yellow sections. Douglas explains that the red sections belong to him, the green sections are hers, and the yellow rooms are neutral. "I had a little trouble with the kitchen," he says, "but we worked out alternative hours." DeVito is aghast.

"This seems -- RATIONAL to you?" Douglas: "I'm gonna win this." DeVito: "Oliver, nobody WINS anything here. There are only degrees of losing." And Douglas leans forward conspiratorially, grins insanely, and whispers: "I got MORE SQUARE FOOTAGE."

It's Douglas's best performance, I think. He's not a simple outraged bourgeois, as in "Fatal Attraction" or "Basic Flaw" or whatever it was. And his character has more dimensions than his Gordon Gekko, and almost as good a name. The couple eat at opposite ends of a long empty table, like Charles Foster Kane and Emily. Douglas is waiting for an important phone call and is a bit anxious. He pays no attention to his wife sitting motionless and silently, staring at him. He stabs at the food on his plate and slices it viciously. And watch the half-demonic expressions that play across his face as he attacks and eats his food. The scene is an almost perfect embodiment of black comedy because, in context, it is outrageously funny -- but it could have been yanked straight out of a horror movie without changing a thing.

It's a fine script and DeVito does well by it. I guess it gets a little tiresome by the time they're chasing one another around the darkened half-ruined mansion, nailing boards over windows and unloosening nuts, and throwing plates. And when in the midst of their hatred, Turner serves the pleasantly surprised Douglas her superlative pate and then claims it was made of Benny's liver, I could have done without the quick shot of the living Benny in the bushes outside. But those are relatively small acnestes bracketed in a very funny movie.

There is a crazy logic to the story too. The couple begin by loving one another but are then separated by, well, THINGS. Douglas works very hard to make enough money so that his wife can find and furnish a perfect home for him. A little tritely, Turner discovers that she has grown not only to dislike the distracted Douglas but to hate him, so she wants her independence. Initially, the little frictions are minor. With a table full of dinner guests that Douglas is trying to impress, he asks Turner to explain how they happened to acquire the Baccarat wine glasses they're using. Nervously, she begins with a trip to Paris but so many dependent clauses intrude themselves that her narrative begins to resemble a 19th-century German sentence. So Douglas cuts her off: "To make a long story short.....", and wraps it up in two declaratives. (I can't emphasize too strongly how deftly DeVito handles this scene. Absolutely none of the irritation is spelled out except by the actors and the camera and editing, and yet we are left with a full understanding of the little disaster that's just taken place and the empty anger that follows.) The gathering enmity shows up in tiny ways. "I just wanted to push you," Douglas says to his wife's back, trying to explain some rudeness. "After all, everybody needs a little PUSH once in a while." (He picks up her cat and flings it aside.) And after his big dinner with his superiors, the couple are in bed and Douglas worries a little. "I hope they didn't notice what a jerk I was." Turner: "They never seem to." Douglas is so smug that the barb sails completely over his head. It's like Neal Simon, if Simon had become delicate.

The humor, if that's what it is, grows more physical and in some ways less funny. Douglas, drunk, urinates on some fish while Turner is giving HER big dinner for potential customers. In turn, while the assembled guests watch open-mouthed from the doorway, she revs up her two-million horsepower SUV with the big knobby tires and the 20 mm cannon on top and noisily smashes into his tiny classic Morgan convertible. Then she backs up and drives completely over it with Douglas inside. Douglas emerges shakily from the compressed car and says, sounding perfectly reasonable, "Look, I don't want to create a scene. I mean, I live in this neighborhood too."

See this movie if you have a chance. I would recommend it even if it weren't so good, simply on the basis of the last scene between the Roses. They have fallen 30 feet on a chandelier and lie dying next to one another. With his last bit of energy, Douglas manages to move his hand lovingly on her shoulder. And just before she dies, without being able to look at what she's doing, Turner reaches slowly out, puts her hand over his, and flips it away.

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