Since I'm always trying to check out cultural touchstones from the past I may have missed, we put Harold And Maude on our Netflix queue. Well, after watching it for the first time, then reading all the glowing reviews on the IMDB, I am baffled that so many people think it's the greatest movie ever. What are all you people smoking?
The concept is cute, and the story is a nice reversal of the usual older-man-younger-woman cliche, but the execution? Not one character in this exercise in self-serious silliness resembles an actual human being, Harold's flighty straw-mother being the worst example. The script is riddled with loose ends where some action would lead to big trouble in the real world, and then we cut to the next scene like nothing happened. (Call me humorless, but while stealing a cop's motorcycle for a joyride might be a fun adolescent fantasy, the movie treats it as just another quirky day for lovable old Maude and we never hear about it again, which is asking a lot from the viewer in terms of suspension of disbelief.)
Ruth Gordon did a good job of making her character believable as someone a moody young man could fall for, despite what she was given to work with. Bud Cort came off more like a baby-faced Norman Bates than the poor, misunderstood, sensitive little rich boy he was supposed to be. Everybody else was a cardboard character set up for us to sneer at. The ending was a forced ironic cop-out. By the time it was all over, I was starting to really detest Cat Stevens. So that's the movie my high school friends were all talking about? Whatever, maaan.