- Movie Rating -

Moment by Moment (1978)

| December 22, 1978

As terrible as it is, I find it difficult to be mean to Moment by Moment.  No, there isn’t a second of the movie that works, there isn’t a scene that shows promise and there isn’t a line of dialogue that doesn’t sound like it wasn’t discarded from your favorite soap opera.  And yet, I almost want to forgive the movie for the sincerity of its intentions.  No one sets out to make a bad movie but you never feel that this movie was doomed from the start.

Moment by Moment was conceived by Lily Tomlin and her partner Jane Wagner, who was the writer and director, and they crafted a movie that promised to be an intricate commentary on age and romance in America as it existed in the mid-1970s.  But the movie never really gets there.  It is badly directed by Wagner and pushed through a romantic story that is as appetizing as eating gravel.

Tomlin plays Trisha Rawlings, a wealthy soon-to-be-divorced woman in her late 30s who meets and reluctantly falls in love with a good-looking twenty-something lunkhead named Strip (John Travolta) – that’s his name and his job.  She sees “potential” in this love affair despite the fact that the kid is as dumb as a bag of hammers.

To her surprise, Strip has the potential to be a lot of things but really doesn’t think he’s worth anything.  He wonders what he might be good at.  Maybe painting billboards or working as a veterinarian.  This gets Trish’s mind spinning.  She begins to realize her own lack of ambition and questions what she might be doing with her life.

This is a lifeless movie, about lifeless people.  It is not hard to imagine what Wagner and Tomlin wanted from this movie – a movie that explores the difficulties of romance in modern-day California much in the same way that Saturday Night Fever explored romance and maturity in modern-day Brooklyn.  But that movie followed a fleshed-out personality.  Tony Monaro was immature and unlikable but you understood his passion – there was a fully-realized person yearning to measure to world with his feet.  But the character of Strip doesn’t fly that high.  There isn’t a person there, just a figure to be in love with the film’s leading lady.

One can see a potentially great movie here, but lays on the screen unformed, underwritten and underwhelming.  And yet, again, I want to give it points for trying.  This was not a movie conceived in vain.  There was a purpose here, but the never finds that purpose.  It just lays there waiting for someone to tear it up and start over.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1978) View IMDB Filed in: Drama