Directed by: Hal Ashby
I recently read somewhere that Hal Ashby's reputation has not aged as well as many believed it would back in his hey-day. I can see why -- Shampoo is a travesty. A ‘70s screwball sex comedy with a glowing reputation (#47 on the American Film Institute's 100 Funniest Films) and it can barely muster a decent joke?
It’s a remarkably unfunny film, with the exception of a few performances (notably Jack Warden) and a few tossed off lines here and there. Warren Beatty, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film, plays a gay pirate, or at least that’s how he’s dressed, decked out in a flamboyant foulard and sporting the most ridiculous haircut in film history. Is that supposed to be intentionally funny or just lamely dated? Who cares? A brief dinner party scene in the middle of the film picks things up a bit, but they just fall off again so quickly that the laughs seem to have been a serendipitous accident. Perhaps frank sexual comments and chides regarding Beatty’s sexuality were risqué and shocking enough to induce a few chuckles thirty years ago, but it just doesn’t cut it, especially in a post-Borat world. Attempts at pathos near the end of the film fall embarrassingly flat. Who gives a shit about these unredeemable, self-obsessed characters? It functions more successfully as an indictment of Beatty-vehicles than it does of the free-lovin’ hipsters of the 1960’s.