Richardson was obviously a brave man to adapt and direct this screen version of John Irving's ultra-whimsical 1981 novel, with serial hotelier Bridges eventually leading his family to Vienna in his quest for the perfect establishment. Along the way, daughter Foster gets gang raped, her sibling Lowe takes out his frustrated incestuous desire on the other female cast members, Kinski plays a lesbian in a bear suit, and there's a farting dog for good measure. If it worked on the page, however, it's glassy and bewildering on screen, somehow contriving torpor from a catalogue of sensationalism and eccentricity. Irving ties the novel together with oft-repeated pat homilies on the human condition ('Keep passing the open windows'), but writer/director Richardson's aim for stylistic continuity through relentlessly jolly Offenbach arrangements on the soundtrack is an ultimately self-defeating gesture further distancing the viewer from the on-screen shenanigans.
Cast and crew