- Movie Rating -

The Main Event (1979)

| June 22, 1979

The Main Event is a movie so stupid and so disorganized yet contains so much promise that you almost wish that is could go back into production like a car that’s been recalled.  This is a throwback to the screwball comedies of the 1930s that badly needs re-editing, restructuring and an entirely different ending to even make the slightest bit of sense.

If the movie were entirely hopeless, I wouldn’t even bother, but it’s not.  It contains a lot of comic energy and a terrific performance by Barbra Streisand whose quick, infectious chatterbox patter would make Howard Hawks proud.

She plays Hilary Kramer, a hugely successful perfume magnate whose company is ruined when her accountant embezzles money from her and then runs off to South America.  When the smoke clears, all she has left is a management contract for a boxer that she purchased years ago as a tax write-off that she decides to use to recover some of her losses.  But the boxer, Eddie “Kid Natural” Scanlon (played in an irritating performance by Ryan O’Neal) has given up boxing and is now working as a driving instructor.

Undaunted, Hilary fast-talks Eddie into returning to the ring even though he knows it can only lead to disaster, especially since she is so unbelievably ignorant of the sport that she doesn’t even know what ‘footwork’ means – she thinks it means kicking.  Her big plan is to get him back into the ring with a fighter that he never got into the ring with some years ago due to disqualification.

Now, all of this sounds like a lot of fun.  The problem is that while its playing out, it’s not really organized very well as a comedy.  The scenes don’t really build on top of each other, they are more like vignettes as Hilary and Eddie fight and fall in love.  Some of the stuff is cute, most of it just wears on your nerves.

In the middle of this mess is Streisand who is clearly having a ball but is playing a character who is totally inconsistent.  The worldly-wise business magnate that we met at the beginning becomes dumb and completely ignorant when she becomes associated with Eddie.  It’s like she loses her edge as a business woman once she falls into the arms of a handsome man.

And then the ending.  The Main Event comes to a final scene that is so abrupt, so stupid and so confusing, that you wonder if you’re not watching a print with an alternate ending tacked on.  It is supposed to, I guess, echo the ending of Rocky, but there’s a conclusion missing.  Its  like the budget ran out and the producers were forced to go with what they had.

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