Top Flight Fun
Maybe it's just me but "Barefoot in the Park" makes me think of a Doris Day movie but less virginal and more sexy, well Jane Fonda in just her bra is sexier than Doris Day in a nightie. It has than sense of comedy as the slightly scatty, fun loving newly wed wife discovers her husband is a stiff lawyer who can't let his hair down and it frustrates her. And there is nothing wrong with that as Neil Simon's own adaptation of his play works, it is amusing, quick paced and sharp witted. But unfortunately the quick fire banter between Jane Fonda and Robert Redford as the newly wed couple does little to do Simon's writing justice.
They were young and in love and having spent 6 days locked in their room at the Plaza newly weds Paul (Robert Redford - The Last Castle) and Corie (Jane Fonda - Monster-in-Law) are moving into their first home together. But the honeymoon is over when real life kicks in as not only is living five flights up in a shoe box too much for Paul but fun loving Corie quickly discovers that Paul is incredibly stiff and unable to let his hair down and have fun.
The storyline to "Barefoot in the Park" is an incredibly simple one as we watch newly weds Paul and Corie struggle with many things from a tiny apartment, to 5 flights of stairs but more importantly from being so different. Corie is fun loving, living in the moment and making a joke out of everything whilst Paul is career minded, stiff and wouldn't dare lose control for a second. And so we watch them have these difficulties as their marriage quickly spirals out of control to the point that less than two weeks after getting married Corie is thinking of divorce.
It's funnier than it sounds because Neil Simon's screenplay is full of daft moments, dialogue which bounces all over the place and some reoccurring jokes such as the 5 flights of stairs, 6 if you include the stoop outside. And to make it funnier we also have Corie's mum and their neighbour Victor who gets to his apartment in the loft by climbing out of their window and walking along the ledge. It is daft but there are so many well written lines and scenes that you end up enjoying every minute be it Corie embarrassing Paul by threatening to remove her top as he gets in the lift or when Corie discovers her mum has stayed at Victor's for the night.
The trouble is that whilst "Barefoot in the Park" stars Robert Redford, Mildred Natwick and Charles Boyer it does feel like the Jane Fonda show because pretty much every scene revolves around her. Now there are times when Fonda is fun and lovely, usually when she is acting like a newly wed who just wants to get her husband into bed. But the minute we have Corie turning into this crying woman who realises Paul is a stuffed shirt she becomes annoying and no longer funny. It also has a knock on effect in how she works with Redford as well because when we have them young and in love there is a beauty to what we watch yet when her character changes it feels like Fonda is trying to outdo Redford and steal the scenes. Maybe it was written that way but it means that at times it borders on being more painful than funny.
What this all boils down to is that "Barefoot in the Park" is for the most a fun 60s romantic comedy which has some great writing and some great performances. But there are times when for whatever reason it becomes less funny and more painful.