Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Film Review by: Ashley Shepherd
Paul Mazursky directs a new, hip film titled Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Mazursky introduces two of the main characters in this film, Bob and Carol, by showing them at an institute that promotes you to experiment with your sexual freedom. Bob, a film-maker is there solely to get more insight on “the institute” and how it works. Carol his wife follows him along on this adventure. After a weekend of expressing feelings and practicing telling the truth, the couple was transformed. The film quickly cuts to the couple eating dinner with their very close friends, Ted and Alice. Bob and Carol explain to them their transformation and try to get Ted and Alice to follow their new way of life. Bob later endeavors into “physical fun” with a coworker, which Alice thinks is “beautiful”. This leads to much more experimentation for the couple, even with their friends Ted and Alice. Their new state of mind leads them to a seemingly awkward situation, so awkward that they might decide to not go through with it.
Although an extremely strange storyline, the theatre will be filled with laughs at the goofiness and crazy decisions both of the couples endure in this film. At the beginning of the film, the camera lens acts like a person present in the room. Eye contact is made with the camera and it seems to be at a normal adult height. This lets the viewer seem like they are themselves in the self-help group experiencing life changing activities. It also seems a little bit weird at first, which catches the viewers’ attention and makes them ask themselves what is going on in this scene. One scene in particular shows just how weird Bob and Carol are and how it is found humorous. This is seen when Bob comes home to Carol having an affair with a boy from the tennis club. Bob insists on meeting him and ends up having a drink with him sitting on the bed that had just been used for Carol’s “physical fun”. During this scene, Bob and Carol are calm and laughing while the tennis instructor just sits on the bed and faces forward the whole time. Mazursky clearly depicts this scene so that the audience feels this awkward yet comedic theme.
The plot is so farfetched it is hard to compare their parts to a real life situation or to another character in a movie. They did however perfect being amateurish to the point of laughter. Carol, played by Natalie Wood, really encapsulates everything that happened at the institute. She seems to be the most in tune with her feelings and the most honest of the group. Wood seems to do a good job depicting a woman who is in her own world and confident in developing her sexual freedom. Bob, very much like Carol, is a little more down to earth than his wife. He is played by Robert Culp. Culp plays a more typical character that cheats on his wife, despite his honesty with her about it. Elliot Gould and Dyan Cannon play Ted and Alice respectively. Gould does a great job playing a goofy man who just goes with the flow and longs for sex with his wife. Cannon depicts Alice as an innocent blonde wife who has morals and goes along with what society thinks she should be doing. She is the very last one of the group to experience the new ways learned from the institute. Cannon plays this part very well, in my opinion.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is definitely a movie for the more mature audiences. Those with an open mind and who are longing for a deeper meaning rather than just watching for enjoyment will really get a kick out of this movie. This comedy will make you laugh, feel awkward and uncomfortable, and also wonder what it all means.