- Movie Rating -

The North Avenue Irregulars (1979)

| February 9, 1979

[reviewed February 11, 2021]

Today it is difficult to remember when the Disney company wasn’t doing so well, but between Walt Disney’s death in 1966 and the renaissance in the 1990s, the company struggled to find an identify for itself.  By the end of the 1970s, faltering profits were making it clear to Disney’s top brass that their brand of comedies were not really in fashion anymore.  Disney was considered a kid’s game at this point.  Teenagers stayed away from anything with the D-word attached.

After a decade of rolling out insipid nonsense like Candleshoe, Hot Lead and Cold Feet and several lifeless Herbie sequels, the executives at Disney made a big publicity show about the fact that they were going to try and make films that seemed a little more grown up.

The last film to be released before the changeover was The North Avenue Irregulars, a strange farce about a group of church-going women who band together to run a group of mobsters out of their little town.  This sounds like a cute idea, but the movie is more or less insufferable.  Boasting a cast that included Lee Grand, Edward Herrmann, Cloris Leachman, Barbara Harris, Susan Clark, Michael Constantine, Karen Valentine and Alan Hale Jr., this is one of those manic comedies in which everyone ends up screaming and running their cars into one another.

Did I mentions cars?  Yes, there are lots of cars, dozens of cars.  They run this way and that way and they constantly ram into one another.  When the cars aren’t cracking up, the characters are cracking up.  There isn’t five minutes in this movie without someone screaming, crashing or making fools of themselves.

The only good thing to come out of this mess is what waited on the other side.  After this came better movies, mature movies, progressive stuff that at least tried to grow up a little bit: The Black Hole, Tron, Splash, The Watcher in the Woods.  It was nice to see the company finally catch up, and try to become modern.

About the Author:

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