Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

'The Love God?' goes on just a little too long

The Love God? (1970)
Starring: Don Knotts, Anne Francis, Edmond O'Brien, Maggie Petersen, and B.S. Pulley
Director: Nat Hiken
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

After his bird-lovers magazine is bankrupted, Abner Peacock (Knotts) is conned by a producer of pornography (O'Brien) into using the magazine's title and 4th-class mailing permit as a way to print a new dirty magazine. When journalist Lisa LaMonica (Francis) takes control of the magazine's editorial direction--turning it into an upscale "swingers" magazine, she convinces Abner that its his patriotic duty to be the magazine's figurehead and lead the life of a swingin' ladies man... because publishing smut is a 1st Amendment right! Soon, the meek bird-watcher finds himself a symbol of sexual liberation, even as he is assuring his sweetheart (Petersen) that they'll be getting married any day now.

"The Love God?" is a comedy that pokes fun at the American "sexual revolution" in the Sixties, though a fictitious version of the "Playboy" company. However, there is a lot more to the film, namely the commentary on mass-media, politics, and how the two converge and often share the same agendas. The film's satirical examination of how no one in the media or political life ever are what they seem, and the statements about the media can make anyone into anything, even if that person isn't at all like the image that is being put forward, are as biting, accurate, and fresh as they were when this film was first released some 40 years ago. In fact, the commentary on the media and "civil rights advocates" on both the liberal and conservative sides of the argument are perhaps even more accurate than four decades ago, because neither politicians nor media companies have gotten less manipulative and cynical as the years have passed.

Although it has a timeless script that is more relevant than ever, the film is still a product of the garish Sixties, so one has to look past that. Another weak spot is that this is one of those movies that just doesn't know when to quit. While the final plot complication is amusing (the minister father of Abner's sweetheart will only let him marry her if he holds a press conference and announces to the world that not only isn't he a swinger--he's a virgin) it stretches on for too long and the movie drags itself toward the finale. It's a shame, because until the last 15 minutes, "The Love God?" moves along as a steady pace, with new twists and complications being added at just the right times.

"The Love God?" is a film with a fine cast (although Anne Francis is a bit of a dead spot), a nice soundtrack, and a 1960s style that is fun and psychadelicious. In addition, the script has numerous timeless elements that puts this film firmly in the category of "classic." It's not without its flaws, but it is well worth your time if you like comedies that come with political commentary that skewers everyone.

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