Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine
Louise: (annoyed after seeing Chance on a tv talk show) It’s for sure a white man’s world in America! Look here: I raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant, and I’ll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between the ears. Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now! Yes, sir, all you’ve gotta be is white in America to get whatever you want.
Chance (Sellers) is a simple-minded (think of a more laid back Forrest Gump) gardener who must leave the home he’s been staying in all his life after the old man there dies and the maid, Louise, leaves as well. After being injured by a limousine, the passenger, Eve (MacLaine), mistakes Chance for a business man and insists that he comes home with her to be taken care of by her family doctor. Chance befriend’s Eve’s sick, super-rich, husband, meets the president of the United States, and becomes a sort of national celebrity while various people scramble to gather information about this mystery man who has been mistaken for a genius of the business world.
This is an odd movie, though my opinion on that is mostly formed based on the very last scene of the movie. I’m not real sure how to interpret it, and it left me scratching my head.
It’s a fairly funny movie, with decent enough performances and some touching moments, but I never really felt that absorbed in the story. I guess I just didn’t believe that this character could really be seen as anything but the simple gardener that he was. I also wondered why they made the point of showing how dominant TV and radio has been in his life if that wasn’t going to pay off in any of his behavior. When a character is raised on TV and has never known anything of the outside world, except what he’s seen on TV, I’d think that some of his little bits of wisdom would be quotes from commercials or TV shows, yet the only thing he ever talks about is gardening. I also find it hard to believe he wouldn’t have ever seen an elevator on TV, but that did result in some funny moments, so I’ll forgive them that.
Movies like this also tend to have cringe-inducing moments, and this one is no exception. There’s awkward moments between Chance and Eve, and there’s several public appearances he makes where I just knew he’d be exposed in an embarrassing manner. Thankfully that never happened, but the anticipation of it wasn’t very enjoyable.
There is, of course, deeper meaning in this movie. About how people overcomplicate life, about how simple truths can be life changing, and how people can often answer their own questions and find their own truths if they’ll just think about it. Various characters think they’re hearing profound things from Chance, when really he doesn’t say much at all. They just fill in the blanks themselves, not realizing they probably had those answers all the time.
Or I could have missed the point entirely…
10 – 2 because I didn’t feel involved in the story – 1 because I didn’t believe people wouldn’t realize Chance wasn’t a genius – .2 for all those shots of stuff on TV that never seemed to pay off = 6.8