Bette Midler was on a roll in the mid-‘80s. Having had two successful films under her belt, DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS and RUTHLESS PEOPLE, it was a no-brainer that she would make another comedy, but this time a female buddy flick called OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE co-starring hot from her stint on TVs CHEERS Shelley Long. Now it’s no secrets that the duo butted heads during filming but what we got onscreen was nonetheless heavenly, one of the great comedies of 1987 in fact. I remember catching it more than once when it invaded our movie theaters back in the day. I even bought the Patti Labelle CD just to get the catchy main theme song (aptly named SOMETHING SPECIAL), like many others did at the time, I’m sure. Almost 30 years later I still own that CD as the film itself which is now on DVD. Suffice to say I watch it on a regular basis.
If you’ve ever been a fan of TVs LAVERNE & SHIRLEY you probably dig OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE (since it’s got the same vibes), the story of two would-be actresses as different as night and day who end up fast friends after feuding religiously over a man (Peter Coyote). Turns out the guy is a complete jerk, but before these fine ladies get to that part the moviegoers are treated to a series of high jinks and one-liners worthy of any RUPAUL DRAG RACE episode. In fact, it’s almost like watching two drag queens battling it out for a chance of owning Mr. Wrong (who cannot relate?). It may not be the wisest choice but the end result is quite effective. It’s big, it’s brassy, it’s completely silly but it works aplenty, thanks to our two talented divas who don’t hold any punches, literally and figuratively. I’ll even say that their involvement in OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE paved the way for other women comedy flicks such as ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (1997) or BRIDESMAIDS (2011).
I’m sure the people behind Disney knew they had a goldmine when they watched the rushes. I mean how could they not? Here are two of the funniest ladies giving all they got and there is no stopping them. OK, I admit the first half, when the characters are at each other’s throat, is by far the funniest. So many scenes come to mind like the airport clerk who refuses to give them information on their lover’s whereabouts; or the cab ride that takes them into a seedy neighborhood; or how about the scenes where la Midler is chatting with Howie (or How as she likes to call him) the phone operator. Once they cross the border to find the bad guy, however, you start feeling the strain. Almost as if the script runs out of steam, but that first hour, oh my god, comedy gold.
And look at that poster sheet. Talk about perfection. They don’t make them like that anymore. Now it’s all computerized or, worse, photoshopped, for all your young minds to see. A damn shame, if you ask me. Please, Hollywood honchoes, if you ever read this blog, go back to that style of art for your posters. It’s so much more enticing.
Midler made the teary BEACHES after OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE, staying away from comedy for a couple of films. She returned to it big time with THE FIRST WIVES CLUB in ‘96. She then had many hits and misses, but you’ll all agree that the mid-'80s were her strongest years for laughter. As for Long, well, the universe wasn’t so nice to her, bombing with TROOP BEVERLY HILLS the year after. Then she kind of disappeared until she starred in THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE in 1995. Her most noticeable work these days is her recurring role in MODERN FAMILY on ABC playing DeDe, Jay’s crazy first wife. Despite these actresses differences they sure made a great team, and I would have given my good-earned money just to see them in action in another project together. Maybe someday they will but I doubt it. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and check out OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE. I dare you to sit through it without laughing.
Until next post—Martin