If you ever make the mistake of watching multiple ’70s movies from Crown International Pictures in succession, you will quickly discover why Crown is a poor cousin to its famous competitor in the exploitation-movie market, American International Pictures. Whereas AIP’s movies are, generally speaking, brisk and lurid, Crown’s flicks are often slow and tedious. As a case in point, consider this interminable road movie about two Vietnam vets who hit the open road in a mobile home with their girlfriends. Jesse (Richard Hatch) is a salt-of-the-earth type who’s ready to settle down with Kathy (Susanne Benton), but Pat (Doug Chapin) is an unhinged sociopath who takes his long-suffering gal, Jo Ella (Ann Noland), for granted. As the quartet drives across the Southwest, Pat tries to convince Jesse to ditch the girls so they can buy motorcycles and travel the country together, Easy Rider-style. At one point, Pat even goes so far as to lead Kathy toward a rattlesnake in the hopes she’ll get bitten and die. Later, Pat pushes Jesse and Jo Ella together, hoping their infidelity will ruin Jesse’s plans for marriage. Alas, the story seems much more interesting in synopsis form than it does as an actual movie, because writer Arnold Somkin and director Noel Nosseck lack the imagination and subtlety that would have been required to make this particular narrative believable. This storytelling problem is exacerbated by the vacuous acting one finds in most Crown releases. Hatch, best known for his work in soaps and in the original Battlestar Galactica series, is miles ahead of his costars in terms of craft—and, with all due respect, if Richard Hatch defines the upper echelon of an acting ensemble, that’s a problem. As a result of the iffy filmmaking and shoddy performances, Best Friends is dull and repetitive, comprising long scenes of actors “behaving” because they haven’t anything else to do; worse, when the movie finally generates events, which doesn’t happen nearly often enough, character motivations feel contrived instead of credible. The picture eventually winds its way toward the requisite ’70s bummer ending, but even that underwhelms, taking far too much screen time to deliver far too little content.
Best Friends: LAME