MovieChat Forums > Four FriendsĀ (1981) Discussion > Doesn't Click with Audiences, Somehow

Doesn't Click with Audiences, Somehow

This is my fave film of all time; so memorable, said such important things. But the audience stayed away when released, the studio was cool towards it and the critics somehow didn't enjoy it.

IMDB voters, based on a small sample, have given it a good rating, but then IMDB voters are not the be-all & end-all of good taste. Multi-voting geeks have put the boring "Lardo-the-Rings" movies into the top 250, and plenty of other dross lives there, too.

I see that the average vote on IMDB is 7.4, and the median is 8 -- that's excellent. Somehow the IMDB computers give it an overal average of 6.5, go figure. You lose a point if you concentrate on characters instead of CGI?

"Spock! Form an away team! You, me, Bones, Scotty and umm... Ensign Smith!"


I agree. When I saw this movie in the theater, I thought, this is one of the best I've ever seen!
Two things I can't figure out. One is why this movie didn't get more acclaim. The second thing is, whatever happened to Jody Thelen. After such a fabulous role as Georgia in this movie, she vanishes, reappearing (at least to me) in a minor role in Adam Sandler's Wedding Singer (as his sister). What happened?


Except for a few critics, incl. Roger Ebert!! (He's the best, i.m.h.o. Why? Because he's a FAN and never blurs the line twixt appreciation for/viewing a film and critique of same.)

Read his January 1, 1981 review at:

Last graph excerpted:

"FOUR FRIENDS is a very good movie. Like BREAKING AWAY, the story of growing up in Bloomington, Indiana (for which Tesich also wrote the original screenplay), this is a movie that remembers times past with such clarity that there are times it seems to be making it all up. Did we really say those things? Make those assumptions? Live on the edge of what seemed to be a society gone both free and mad at once? Some critics have said the people and events in this movie are not plausible. I don't know if they're denying the movie's truth, or arguing that from a 1980s point of view the '60s were just a bad dream. Or a good one."



It sure didn't click with me. To be honest this must be a you-had-to-be-there sort of situation if so many people honestly liked it and identified with it, but from a truly unbiased point of veiw i think the movie is garbage. The first half hour of the film was decent and promising and kind of cute but then the rediculous downward spiral of often pointless events made me wish i could walk out of the film class I was showed it in. There is rarely a film i don't like but i just feel that this mess with its unsatisfying and unrealistic resolution should be forgotten. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go into the bathroom and take a 'Four Friends.'


For further perspective: "Chariots of Fire" -- a film I like/d, btw -- beat out "Reds" (a *great* epic romance of meticulous detail; look it up!), for AA's Best Picture, which is as flat-out ridiculous as IMDb's "weighted average' ratings' system! At the time of this post, 69.6% of the viewers rated this film 7 or higher. The good news is that it's now at least available on a (bare-bones) DVD, probably damn cheap, too, I'd guess, given it's apparent non-recognition by the puplic. Oh well, perhaps when it's shown on cable once again (w/o commercials, of course!)?

I thought/think Roger Ebert's review of this film was right on.
"Four Friends"
BY ROGER EBERT / January 1, 1981

Somewhere in the middle of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, Andre Gregory wonders aloud if it's not possible that the 1960s were the last decade when we were all truly alive -- that since then we've sunk into a bemused state of self-hypnosis, placated by consumer goods and given the illusion of excitement by television. Walking out of FOUR FRIENDS, I had some of the same thoughts. This movie brings the almost unbelievable contradictions of that decade into sharp relief, not as nostalgia or as a re-creation of times past, but as a reliving of all of the agony and freedom of the weirdest ten years any of us is likely to witness."



Wow...I just took a huge Four Friends myself. I don't know what the hell I ate...



What the hell. I cant believe i listened to your recomendations. Pure crap.

Wow...I just took a huge Four Friends myself. I don't know what the hell I ate...

Read QUOTE-1 in order for QUOTE-2 to make sense. Funny and true all at the same time.

Ye Olde Sig Line:

Liberals kill with ABORTION.
Conservatives kill with the DEATH PENALTY.
I kill with THOSE and WORDS.


Like the TV mini series THE 60's, this ambitious, wrong-headed mess tracking four friends through life while cataloging the various social changes 0f 60's America doesn't click, don't blame the audience. It tries so hard to be meaningful it becomes meaningless,...cliched, obvious,forced, forgettable, and almost campy at times. I saw this film in a theater when it opened in NYC and found it uninvolving and dreary. The only interesting scenes involve James Leo Herily as rich, rotten swine. Pauline Kael referred to the leads as a "colorless quartet". Why are they friends!?


Warning: Spoilers...
I beg to disagree... I suspect that if many people (critics etc) didn't like this film, i's because in the end it is a bit of a downer. The most charming person in the entire film dies, two other deaths seem to be almost meaningless, the Danilow family seems to be pretty disfunctional... and in the end the four friends seem to have settled into such an ordinary life-style after having had such ebullient dreams in their youth, it is almost sad. But then, it wouldn't be so poignant either. And in the end, so realistic and true to life.

Examples? The scene with Louis' mother when she realizes how she has totally lost everything including her identity. The strange horrid cry that escapes her unbidden is chilling... yet totally believable.
The scene where Danilow's father knocks the milk out of his hand, and dares him to hit back. The violence of this scene is more impressive than any of the killings in the Godfather... but in the Godfather we are excited by it all. Here, we are non-plussed, because somewhere inside us we can really identify - we all know the kinds of rage that are kept just under the surface, sometimes even in the "best" of families.

I really think that this is why many people reject this film... it makes tehm uncomfortable because it comes too close for comfort. But that is why it is so brilliant.


No, I wasn't really uncomfortabe. I was disinterested in the obvious, trite lessons in life set against the background of the sick soul of America. Unsurprising that the 4 leads,like the film, disappeared without a trace.


What the hell. I cant believe i listened to your recomendations. Pure crap.


Well, they all didn't disappear w/o a trace. Some may have returned t primarily stage work? Jim Metzler has had supporting roles in very good films, among them "L.A. Confidential" (of which you may have heard), as has Michael Huddleston (but Likely more than I've seen. Craig Wasson was a lead co-star in two primary A-List films: Brian DePalma's "Body Double" and John Irvin's "Ghost Story" (also 1981) w/ the likes of Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbacks Jr., John Houseman, Melvyn Douglas, Alice Krige, and Patricia Neal (some of whom you may have heard of!? -- not exactly 'bad' actors!) -- both of which did so-so B.O., so (I assume) he was likely tagged "unbankable"? Good/+ Dir's. don't cast people for *no* reason/talent (you know?), regardless of how the collorated (and perhaps mangled by some studio) film turns out. But, his career has been ongoing. Look up the creds of whom you're speaking, why don't you?? The 2004 "Puerto Vallarta Squeeze" w/ Scott Glenn and Harvey Keitel is also very good!


I liked this film and I'm sorry I waited so long to see it.

Like The Landlord (1970), this film deals with everything in the world. Four Friends, in particular, deals with everything bad in the world, like social class, racism, war, bad parental relations, physical disabilities, exploitation of immigrant labor, violence, etc..

If you are looking for some reason that this movie didn't take off or thrill audiences, I can give you about six reasons:

This movie essentially has six starring roles in it. None of those people were even remotely famous, and none of them has gone on to amount to any kind of a big movie star. I think the acting was great and everyone did their role well, but casting is casting, and it looks as if they said, "okay, pick us out six actors that no one knows, no one likes, and no one will ever like" and put them into the film.

You said that this movie "Doesn't Click with Audiences, Somehow", but not a single person in this film has every clicked with anyone.

I'll show the flip side of this, from lousy casting to brilliant casting:

Less than one year after Four Friends came out, another movie came out. No one in it was even remotely famous, and nobody got paid any real money to be in it. The totally unknown people in that film were Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, and Lana Clarkson. Phoebe Cates isn't even any kind of actress and hasn't really done movies in 15+ years, but she is more famous than everyone in Four Friends combined, including the director and writer.

That is called massive star power and that is what casting people know how to sniff out. That is what brilliant casting is. What was done on Four Friends was, well, what's the opposite of brilliant casting?