In New York, an unhappily married stockbroker, Howard Brubaker (Jack Lemmon, Days of Wine and Roses), falls for a beautiful woman (Catherine Deneuve, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) he meets at a party. The lady turns out to be his boss’s (Peter Lawford, The Picture of Dorian Gray) wife. The lady reciprocates Howard’s affections and they both decide to leave their respective spouses and fly to Paris, France. But, will they really have the courage to leave everything behind?
Reaction & Thoughts:
Fanciful, fairly amusing romantic comedy bathed in counter-culture angst. The April Fools is one of many movies from the era that attacked both conventional values and the “9 to 5” mentality.
I was tempted to use the word “dated” but I have noticed that this kind of attitude — “I work to live, I don’t live to work” — has had a resurgence in the last decade, so maybe young viewers will find something here they can relate to. In addition, I’m pretty certain that once in a while most people fantasize about having no responsibilities and the movie provides an opportunity for viewers to live vicariously through the characters.
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke) from an original screenplay by Hal Dresner, The April Fools has a flimsy premise helped immeasurably by actor Lemmon’s charming and realistic performance. The film almost plays like a sequel to The Apartment, with Lemmon once again playing a nervy cubicle man (not so surprising, Shirley McLaine was initially casted in Deneuve’s role).
Deneuve, who is often described as an “Iron Butterfly,” is very charming as Lemmon’s love interest. I didn’t think she could do comedy, but she proved me wrong. Lawford is great as Denueve’s nasty husband. Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H) plays Lemmon’s cold wife. Masters of sophistication Charles Boyer (Love Affair) and Myrna Loy (The Thin Man) are added bonuses — they play a stylish couple who give Lemmon and Deneuve much-needed advice. Melinda Dillon (Absence of Malice), Kenneth Mars (The Producers), and Jack Weston (The Ritz) are also part of the cast.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
The April Fools doesn’t hit the bull’s-eye. It does try to say something meaningful about love, happiness and “The Rat Race.” As a time capsule, this is a pretty engaging film. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it was a total success. I found the movie a bit meandering, unfocused. I did love the strange, but compelling chemistry between the very American Lemmon and the very European Deneuve — this is a great odd couple! If you love romantic comedies, you might want to give The April Fools a try. Color, 95 minutes, Rated PG.