Picks and Pans Review: How to Beat the High Cost of Living

updated 07/28/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/28/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Can there be a funny film about inflation, especially when you've paid $4 or $5 to see it? Yes, and this is the zany proof. Saturday Night Live's Jane Curtin plays an abandoned housewife with plenty of bills and no bucks. Her pal Susan Saint James needs money for an abortion, and another friend, Jessica Lange, is also broke. What to do? Why, hit a shopping center, of course. The girls—sort of Charlie's Angels with more brains and less sanctimony—plot to steal a big ball full of money that's used as a promotion gimmick by store owners. It's a made-for-television caper idea, perhaps, but brought off with flair. Robert Kaufman's script is hilarious, poking fun at everything from pantyhose to politics. Richard Benjamin, as Lange's oversexed veterinarian husband, almost steals the show; and Eddie Albert adds a wonderful cameo as Saint James' ex-Marine father, whose wife has gone gay. Saint James is always funny, and Lange does well after her nondescript roles in King Kong and All That Jazz. Curtin, in her first major movie role, proves to be a virtuoso comedienne on the big screen too. Jane Fonda's and George Segal's Fun with Dick and Jane took a similar approach to a similar problem, yet ended up sour and ponderous. This is light, bright and appropriately detached from reality, a perfect antidote to inflation blues. (PG)

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