- Movie Rating -

Sunburn (1979)

| August 10, 1979

It doesn’t take a genius to equate that the reason that Sunburn exists is to sell a movie with Farrah Fawcett wearing beachwear.  It’s right there on the movie’s poster.  And, I suppose, that’s not an all-together wrong-headed thing to sell a movie on, but there also lies the problem that you then have to actually make the movie.  How long can a moviegoer look at a stunning woman on the screen before the urge kicks in want her to actually do something.

Well, it turns out, in Sunburn, she does a lot.  This is Farrah’s second screen outing after the previous year’s rather dreary Somebody Killed Her Husband and this time she’s caught up in a movie that doesn’t do her any more favors than that one did.

Sunburn is a light mystery comedy, nothing too heavy, nothing too substantial.  Its one of those movies where most viewers are either lightly entertained or majorly bored.  At the beginning I was the former, but by the end I was definitely the latter.  That probably has to do with the fact that this feels like a TV pilot, one that you could stand for 45 minutes and then move on to something else, but when stretched to feature length, it wears on your nerves.

The premise feels like a pitch meeting: An insurance investigator (Charles Grodin) goes to Acapulco in order to look gather evidence on a case of fraud involving a million-dollar claim.  Seems that an old man has dropped dead and his wife is eager to collect and for a massive pay-off.  So, in order to maintain his disguise, he pulls in Fawcett and recruits her to pretend to be his wife.  He gets them in one desperate situation after another while she constantly questions what he’s doing.

Just reading that back, I already get a little restless.  The problem with this movie is that Grodin and Fawcett has zero chemistry.  We are supposed to, I suppose, get a Nick and Nora Charles kind of vibe, but Fawcett is not a gifted comedian.  She reads lines but doesn’t really get nuance or timing – something that Grodin has in his very bones.  Of that, Sunburn is generally a struggle to sit through.  It’s not terrible, just misaligned and forgettable.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized