Before co-founding the low-budget production/distribution company Troma Entertainment in 1974, Lloyd Kaufman was one of the myriad ambitious young auteurs to hit the cinema scene at the apex of the counterculture period. While many of his peers were eager to make serious pictures about the big sociopolitical issues of the day, Kaufman leaned toward whimsy—as well as a uniquely ramshackle cinematic approach. Then as now, Kaufman is a cheerful hack unwilling to invest the time or money it takes to get things right. Hence Kaufman’s second feature, The Battle of Love’s Return, a strange amalgam of physical comedy, pathos, and social commentary. Kaufman stars as dim-witted New Yorker Abacrombie, a putz who lives in a basement hovel and works for a company run by the loathsome Mr. Crumb (played by the director’s real-life father, New York lawyer Stanley Kaufman). Some of Abacrombie’s adventures lampoon the difficulty that stupid people have when trying to accomplish simple tasks, such as getting dressed in the morning, and some of the character’s exploits stem from misunderstandings. In a typical bit, Abacrombie tries to help an old lady, only to be misperceived as a masher. Abacrombie also gets hit by a car, suffers the scorn of his dream girl (Lynn Lowry), whose character is identified in the credits as “Dream Girl,” and winds up in the military during the picture’s arty finale. For long stretches of the movie, Kaufman lets the camera roll while uninspired actors perform what appear to be improvisatory bits, which compounds the problems of an inherently episodic narrative. So even though The Battle of Love’s Return has a certain grungy integrity, the flick is so amateurish, boring, and pointless that it’s hard to muster praise. Strange as it sounds, The Battle of Love’s Return is a pretentious movie by a deeply unpretentious filmmaker.
The Battle of Love’s Return: LAME