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Partners - comedy DVD review
PARTNERS Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 stars
Actors: Ryan O'Neal, John Hurt, Kenneth McMillan, Robyn Douglass, Jay Robinson
Directors: James Burrows   Distributor: Legend Films
DVD release:01 July 2008   Runtime: 93 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
DVD features: Audio (English)

Sergeant Benson (Ryan O'Neal) is a tough cop who's not shy around the ladies. From the first scene, it's obvious that he's a bit of a womanizer. He gets called into Chief Wilkins' (Kenneth McMillan) office, and as he waits to go in, he observes another man doing the same but who curiously does not take the opportunity to ogle the receptionist bending over in front of him. This man, Kerwin (John Hurt), works in a clerical position at the police department.

The chief knows Kerwin is gay, but Kerwin is surprised that he doesn't pass as straight. The chief wants them on a case - a series of murders in the gay community. No big deal, but some journalist is making the PD look bad for not doing enough to catch the killer. These two will pose as a gay couple, live in the gay community, and get to the bottom of this.

It's the usual fish out-of-water formula. Benson dresses a bit more gay, and he's instantly accepted as the new piece of meat at the market. Kerwin is skittish about being outed this way and having to try to get close to other men; it's a rough experience for him. Both men struggle through uncomfortable situations in the course of the investigation. It's a pretty ho-hum murder case as you might see on Magnum P.I. or Mannix, but without so much action. The meat of the story is the relationship between the cops, but it's a thin, flavorless meat. It grows in a short time to sort of a husband-husband relationship, save for Benson's heterosexual infidelities.

Partnerscame out, if you'll pardon the expression, in 1982, and what is most striking is the way sexual mores are portrayed. Benson seems to have a girlfriend but doesn't hesitate to explore sexual encounters outside of that relationship. The gay community on display here is the way you may remember it being shown in the early '80s: very swinging, lots of indiscriminate flirting despite apparent previous commitments, dudes in studded leather with dog collars - the kind of thing that gave rise to the moral majority and perhaps still leaves an aftertaste of disgust in the minds of the homophobic. It's certainly not Mayberry. I have to think that it's okay, though. It's written by Francis Veber, who brought us La Cage Aux Folles (later remade as The Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane) and other gay-friendly fare.

It's not bad for the most part, but the ending is flat and unbelievable. While it earns a point or two for serving as a bit of a time capsule, it's not enough to put on my top 100 list.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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