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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY (1982)
Woody Allen's take on "A Midsummer's Night Dream" is a sensual comedic rendezvous amidst the backdrop of serene summertime countryside. Isolated amidst the flourishing flora and fauna of a summertime countryside the film presupposes a light modernistic gentle satire on "urbanites and civility". The film constructs the many blunders and revelations of sexuality when three couples hiatus in the countryside heat. As in Shakespeare's comedy, mismatched loves ensue, and unrequited love comes back to complicate things in this tell-tale Woody Allen film that marks its spot amongst romantic comedies with its innumerous one-liners and trite, albeit uncannily apt "truisms".
Written and directed by: Woody Allen.
Genre: Comedy, Romance.
Rated: PG For thematic content and brief sexual references.
The film commences with a pat diatribe opposing "metaphysical nonsense" as given by respected professor Leopold (Jose Ferrer) who completes his academic year in anxious anticipation of his upcoming summer wedding with his new "may bride", Ariel (Mia Farrow).
Meanwhile the film pans to common man, "crackpot scientist", Andrew (Woody Allen) who is currently at earnest in attempts to make his latest invention, "flying wings" successfully functional. All the while his wife, and coincidentally Leopold’s cousin, Adrian (Mary Steenburgen) reveals her plans for taking Leopold and his bride-to-be into their home in preparation for their wedding ceremony. Accompanying the quartet in Leopold's nuptials will be Dr. Maxwell (Tony Roberts) and another one of his "wily buxom" babes; this time his prey will be a nurse epitomizing the "modern woman", Miss Dulcy (Julie Hagerty).
As Adrian and Andrew do their best to converse about their ongoing marital problems (read celibate sex life), the couple prepare to invite Leopold and his precarious, and allegedly precocious, bride, of whom Andrew seems to have familiar, albeit unexplained relations, into their home. The dawn of a beautiful summer’s morning amidst the flourishing English countryside, complete with a progressive classical score depicts all of “nature” preparing to ‘get in the mood’ and sets the stage for the sensual activities awaiting the six unsuspecting guests. All the while Andrew is gallivanting through the skies in his 'patented flying bicycle'; Adrian is doing her best to prevent being disarmed by Dulcy’s overtly modern philosophies on women and sexuality.
As Leopold and Ariel pull up sparks fly immediately, both good and bad, as sexual and competitive tensions are set. While Leopold and Maxwell compete for reigning scientific ego, and coincidentally the attractions of each other's counterparts, Adrian and Andrew do their best to temper temperaments, so to speak. But Ariel and Andrew's precarious past is only raising tempers between husband and wife; Adrian and Andrew that is. With sexual problems pervading the marriage the last thing Andrew needs is a suspecting wife. But that's exactly the predicament Andrew finds himself in after Maxwell asks him to help in swaying Ariel’s interest from 'professor' to 'doctor'.
One game of chatty bad-mitten, a frolic in the woods, some baseball, and multiple summertime gaieties later and suddenly the climax is set for the dinner scene on the eve of Ariel and Leopold's wedding. After a debauched attempt to sleep with one another's partners, Maxwell and Leopold do their best to play a straight face at the dinner table while all succumb to the overwhelmingly compelling powers of wine and summer nights.
A brief musical interlude, lead by none other than 'spotlight hog' himself, Leopold, sets the stage for a night of debauchery. As Maxwell heads out to the brook to display his professions of love to Ariel, who coincidentally has an undeniable nostalgia for her and Andrew’s past relations, Adrian sleeps unaware. But Andrew's innocent intentions are slowly swayed by unrequited love and soon he finds himself competing with his best friend for the same woman: Ariel. But Leopold has misconstrued the situation, believing it to be Maxwell who has swayed Ariel's affections, that is, until he spots Andrew and Ariel in the dark and abandons his civilized gentility, turning into a "primitive Neanderthal running through the woods" (a perfectly flamboyant display of his hypocrisy) with bow and arrow.
What results is an injured Maxwell sprawled on forest floors with an arrow in his chest, a wild animalistic Leopold ravaging Dulcy, an infidel Adrian confessing, and repenting for her deeds, Andrew and Ariel discovering that some things are better left unrequited, and all anxiously awaiting for Andrew’s magical "metaphysical ball" to reveal to them the secrets of the meta-realities of the spirit world. As the ball lights up and fireflies dance in the sky, it seems that perhaps, metaphysics isn't all that its "quacked up to be" and perhaps, just perhaps, the past, present, and future aren’t really all that distant after all…
"A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy" is a brilliant piece of light comedic satire. From the innumerous trite 'isms' and one-liners to the canny dialogue to the artistry of pairing man against nature (as in what is natural, what's primitively instinctive, what’s animalistic in us that makes us and defines us as human), and the pulsing score, this film is a wonderful treat for singletons and couples both young and old. This film wraps you up in its escapist hope and humor and delights your senses and your palate with flippant satire and ludicrous extremist fantasies (such as the Woody Allen bicycle scene and the wonderful metaphysical spirit ball). This film takes the Shakespeare comedy and reinvents and adopts it into a modern "period" comedy; a paradox, albeit a successful one. This film runneth over with palatable dialogue and Woody Allen simply steals the scene, perhaps for the momentary interludes by Jose Ferrer as the overtly pompous professor Leopold, with his typical Allen archetype: the nerdy man who finds a way into every beautiful woman's heart. From his quack inventions to his gentle nature and good humor, Allen plays the part everyman dreams to "play" in reality, but which is of course, always reserved for the "nerdiest" of our race.
Woody Allen plays Andrew, the simple inventor who marries the naïve Adrian.
Mary Steenburgen plays Adrian, Andrew's elegantly refined, albeit sexually repressed wife.
Mia Farrow plays Ariel, the coveted "modern woman" who sparks the tension in the plot line.
Jose Ferrer plays Leopold, the conceited civilized professor to marry Ariel.
Julie Hagerty plays Dulcy, unconventionally enigmatic, "dumb blonde", modern miracle.
Tony Roberts plays Maxwell, the sexually precocious bachelor doctor with a penchant for Ariel.