- Movie Rating -

Coast to Coast (1980)

| October 3, 1980

There is something off about the tone of Coast to Coast, something about the inward and outward plots that don’t match up.  The movie is about a neurotic woman (Dyan Cannon) who escapes a New York mental asylum and hitches a ride with a truck driver (Robert Blake) who is on his way to California.  They meet-cute, hate each other, fight, like each other, respect each other and fall in love.  The outward subplot is about a group of people looking for this woman who are hateful, mean, vindictive and unpleasant.  They rob the movie of any potential joy.

If this were a realistic portrait of a person seeking asylum from her own personal asylum then maybe I could understand that tone but this is a goofy comedy, why is everything so full of hate?

The story is another attempt at rekindling the screwball comedies of the 1930s, reworking pieces of The African Queen with a healthy dose of It Happened One Night and grafting them onto a plot that resembles the central core of Smokey and the Bandit.  Hold on, it’s not nearly as disastrous as it sounds.

The problem is that the movie has no consistency.  Cannon plays Madie Levrington whose vindictive husband Benjamin (Quinn Redeker) commits her to a mental asylum in order to keep from having to shell out the money for an expensive divorce.  This is a problem for us in the audience because when we see Madie in many of the scenes of the movie she is screaming and screaming as if she might really be unhinged.  What are we suppose to think?  Is she crazy or not?

When she hitches a ride with Charlie Callahan (Blake), she offers to pay him, which he can’t turn down since his truck behind on payments and the repo men are hot on his tail.  Furthermore, he is so put off by Madie at first that he considers turning her over to Benjamin’s hired goons in order to collect the reward that the snake has put out on her.

As you might imagine, this is a very loud picture.  Any post-Smokey road picture must include car crashes and crack-ups whether they are needed or not.  They’re loud, obnoxious and not really necessary.  Neither are the endless scenes in the first hour of Cannon and Blake screaming at each other.

But again, even at the moments when the movie shows promise, I was always put off by the reasons why the two are together in the first place.  Why did she have to have been committed to an asylum?  Why couldn’t she just be a runaway bride?  Why do we care about Blake’s truck being repossessed?  Why does that even figure into the movie?  This is a very heavyweight plot grafted onto very feather-weight material.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized