Plot: Frankie (Shelley Hack) is still dealing with the breakup from her longtime boyfriend Gabe (Paul Michael Glaser), but she isn’t sitting at home pining, instead she tries her luck at a local singles bar. There she meets someone and has a one night stand, but the experience wasn’t all that great and in truth, she thinks this kind of lifestyle might not be for her. Bandini’s is the local hot spot and the good times flow like wine there, but Gabe and Frankie seem to always cross paths and despite being split up, both realize the draw is still there. Meanwhile others try to find romance at the bar, some willing to roll the dice with anyone halfway attractive, while others are more picky or looking for more serious connections. As all of these people mingle in search of love, sex, and companionship, will anyone of them find what they’re after and what will become of Frank and Gabe’s on again, off again relationship?
Entertainment Value: This one is a little darker than I expected, with a focus on the more unseemly elements of the singles scene, which is turn a statement of sorts on the human condition, I suppose. Of course, the movie doesn’t delve that deeply into the minds of these flawed characters, but it does mine just beneath the surface, so don’t expect a light, brisk watch here. I kind of expected a comedy of sorts and that is true at times, but this is more serious in most scenes and the journeys of the characters aren’t often positive ones. I like the attention given to developing the characters, even if it isn’t at character study depths, as it helps us to connect with these people and that is crucial if the narrative threads are to land. The broken relationship of two of the central characters is what drives Single Bars, Single Women and it is handled well, given time to develop, and tends to provide the film’s better moments. I think this is a case where some of the characters and threads are interesting, but as a whole, the movie just never comes together. Still worth a look if you’re a fan of the cast or the early 80s atmosphere, but not a memorable picture.
I didn’t know much about Single Bars, Single Women and it hasn’t been given the best home video treatment over the years, but I have to see every Tonza Danza performance, so I took a dive into this 80s dating scene excursion. Danza is of course featured on most of the movie’s marketing elements and he does have a good sized role here, but he isn’t one of the central characters. So not a lead, but also not just a cameo, a supporting role with some decent screen time. His performance is fine, he treads familiar ground as the suave, charming type, but in this case, his character isn’t as slick as he thinks. This is more or less an ensemble piece and the movie is good about giving people enough time to shine, as well as get some minor character development in, so that’s always good. Christine Lahti and Shelley Hack have prominent roles and perform well, showing a little more depth than most, though this material can lean on the shallower elements of these characters in some instances. The cast also includes Keith Gordon, Mare Winningham, Paul Michael Glaser, and Jean Smart.
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