Sunday, September 06, 2015

H.E.A.L.T.H. (1980) - Robert Altman


Robert Altman is the undisputed master of multi-character, panoramic cultural exposes (Nashville, M*A*S*H, The Player, Short Cuts), but in this movie it just feels like he's coasting on fumes and reputation, doing his old '70s shtick but less successfully at the head of a new decade. Watching H.E.A.L.T.H, you get a severe case of the been-there-done-that's. Even the "Exercise Your Right to Vote" song is used to better effect later in the '80s in the far superior Tanner.

Maybe it's the target of satire this time, a health convention in a Florida hotel. It may be too small a bulls-eye for his broad canvas approach. Though it's fun to see Carol Burnett in a slightly more serious role outside of The Carol Burnett Show, not to mention Henry Gibson in full drag fondling fruit (above), many of the jokes fall flat, especially a recurring one with Lauren Bacall having a palsy at inopportune moments that causes her arm to raise into the air Lazy Hitler style. File this movie under: "For Altman Completists Only." It sorely needs a B-12 shot.

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