Picks and Pans Review: Consenting Adults
Think of this wannabe kinky thriller as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Meet Jason. Director Alan J. Pakula is so fond of his movie's twists that he telegraphs, then underlines them. Pakula and writer Matthew Chapman seem mindlessly sexist; every woman in the film is portrayed as pathetically stupid and gullible. And the movie; climaxes with a laughable hand-to-hand fight that suggests two third graders scuffling rather than two men battling for their lives.
Kline and Mastrantonio are a couple whose suburban Atlanta lives are overturned when obvious loony tunes Spacey and Miller move in next door.
Spacey's suggestion that he and Kline swap wives leads to a murder and a hokey string of events that never let you forget this is a movie.
Spacey, so adept at playing everyday people beset by crisis, overdoes this role as a dangerous hustler who wears his psychoses on his sleeve. Kline, exhausting his blank-faced look of innocence, still never seems dumb enough to fall into Spacey's con-man traps. And Mastrantonio has a tough time acting like a dimwit so shallow she is not only not alarmed by Spacey's manipulative machinations but is seduced by them. Miller is a similar cipher, a passive accomplice to Spacey's schemes. The only sympathetic character is Forest Whitaker, as a soft-spoken private investigator.
Cut from the same cloth as Cape Fear but turned into a pot holder, Consenting Adults builds up little momentum. Pakula's attempt to jury-rig a hold-your-breath finale just bogs down. (R)