Thursday, July 29, 2010

Makin' Love in the Back of Recreational Vehicles

How odd that my waking thoughts today would be devoted to the 1988 Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin comedy Big Business, right? Off the record (ha), it's a comedy I've seen dozens of times, I was addicted to it when I was a kid and I could quote it from start to finish at you if I was backed into a corner and the only way to save myself was to quote lines from a 1988 Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin comedy, which could obviously happen.

Anyway I've laid bare my love for 80s Bette Midler movies before, once in an epic post devoted to Stella - still one of my favorite posts I've ever done - and several times I've coughed up the truth about my embarrassing devotion to Beaches. But save one brief instance I've never said much about Big Business, which is weird. I need to go revisit all of Bette's big comedies from this period - that sound you hear is my boyfriend packing my belongings and throwing them into the street - for some posts is what I need to do. Outrageous Fortune! Down and Out in Beverly Hills! That one where Danny Devito has her kidnapped! (Oh right Ruthless People is what it's called.) It's been a very long time but I worshipped them all when I was a kid.

All that aside, now that I'm actually doing a post focused on Big Business, I'm not actually even focusing on Bette. This post is devoted to Lily Tomlin's sly double performance in the movie, because it's one I never give enough credit to, and it's her that was weirdly on my mind when I woke up this morning. Bette's broadness - that word goes in several directions, all of them apt - always gobbles up in hindsight the very funny work Tomlin's doing here. So here are five of my favorite Lily moments in the movie.

Wrestling with a wandering shoulder pad in the first meetin'

Also during the first meetin' - muffin, meet tooth

Sadie Ratliff (Bette Midler): That's what the French call a bedet.
Rose Ratliff (Lily Tomlin): Well those French must be taller than me.

Bette gets to do the whole funny mirror routine in the bathroom when the two sets of mismatched twins finally meet each other, but I always loved Tomlin's reaction on the left above where she seems to be trying out for an insanely exaggerated Excedrin commercial. If (When!) I ever meet my long-lost identical twin in a bathroom at the Plaza, this is exactly how I plan on reacting.

And finally, the classic snake-fangs / bracelet-rattle hand shake.
The best part is when she does it while she's sleeping:

[ETA I just posted one of my favorite Bette moments over at The Film Experience. I couldn't help myself.] Alright, so one more thing about Big Business that was integral to my love for it when I was a kid? Fred Ward as the hot hick Roone. His scene sharing a hotel room with the two mincing queens that work with Big City Bette & Lily, Graham (Edward Hermann) and Chuck (Daniel Geroll) - one of the first times I can remember being exposed to gay men in a movie too, for better or worse - left a pretty large imprint on my brain. So cute.

Roone: Hey, I like your kimono! D'ya get that in 'Nam?

Chuck: Uhhh no. Fire Island.

Roone: Don't tell me you two guys
are sleeping in the same bed together?
Graham: Uh... yes.
Roone: Gee I feel awful about that. Now if ya want,
one of you can take the couch and I'll share the bed!



SeangSTM said...

"Is this how we dress for the office? You look like a blood clot!"

I also love Seth Green's horrible overdubbed voice during the FAO Schwartz scene.

breedaniels said...

How about the sushi scene, "Uh, do ya think you could put some fire on this? I think I just heard it holler for help!"...."Oh look, a sink in the living room!....."That's what the French call a bidet."...LOL...too many lines...make it stop!!!!....uh oh...I feel one more coming on...."Don't move, it'll just be a little prick"...."Yeah, that's what got me into this mess in the first place!".....ok,ok....I'm done. You have great taste JA....Quote your favorite lines from "Outrageous Fortune" and "Troop Beverly Hills" sometime.

JA said...

Ha I LOVE the fact that you brought up TBH - when I mentioned Outrageous Fortune my brain instantly went there too. I haven't seen TBH in a very very long time but it was one of my addictions back then just like these Midler movies. I know it's gotten some play lately, that there was a touring version of it that went around or something? And people got all Rocky Horror over it. I need to see it again, like NOW. Perhaps I'll have a Long and Midler marathon. What was that movie where Shelley Long chokes to death but then comes back to life? Hello Again! Oh memories.

breedaniels said...

Ummmm, I should have read the post BEFORE..I started writing....I just saw "Big Business' and got way too excited, oh well, as usual, great taste in movies, JA!

breedaniels said...

My previous post was referring to the fact that I had already quoted the lines that you had already written, than AFTER I posted my last post, I saw that you had already responded....I told you...neurotic......ANYWAYS...I read something a while back about a theater in Brooklyn showing "Troop Beverly Hills"....."Drop Dead Gorgeous" is another one...with a prefamous Amy Adams!

DancerInDC said...

Love, love, LOVE this movie. I was also obsessed when I was younger, and I can still quote most it. :)

"The MEETin'?"

SeangSTM said...

"I simply MUST have that little number in my size...I'm a two."
"A five."
"Very well, give me a nine."

One of my favourite bits of throwaway background dialogue by Bette as Sadie Shelton, as Sadie Ratliff is trying on the identical dress in the foreground.

Lily Tomlin though, gets the best lines.

"And she agrees?"
"Is a frog's ass watertight?"

Hugh Man said...

I had a Bette Midler phase too. I thought Beaches was going to be another awesome comedy. I was like 7 and cried and cried and asked my mom not to die. She bought me something nice. As I grow older I wish for Lily Tomlin's immortality.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

There's nothing embarrassing about being devoted to Beaches. 0;)