"Going All the Way"
Opened: October 10, 1997 | Rated: R
There are at least three or four sex scenes in "Going All the Way," and in each one the girl strips only to the waist. I see a logistics problem here, as the movie takes place in the 1950s, when all women's underwear was that impenetrable, tap pants-sized stuff.
We're not supposed to notice this and just accept that sex is happening, even if the actors are just going through the motions rather unenthusiastically.
That seems to be the theme for the whole movie -- we're supposed to accept that something, anything, is happening, even though the actors are just standing there spouting memorized lines rather unenthusiastically.
That alleged something happening revolves around two soldiers (Jeremy Davies and Ben Affleck) returning from Korean War duty to some kind of Mayberry version of Indianapolis and resuming their places in the community -- one as the local stud and the other as an impotent whimp who dresses like Forrest Gump but has only half the charisma.
For some reason the second guy, Sonny (Davies), is the main character. A shapeless poster boy for every tired cinematic male anxiety, his life is an amalgam of other '50s movies. He has "Leave It to Beaver" parents who suggest he go into insurance. He a beautiful, marriage-minded girl (Amy Locane) pining for him (although why she's even interested is beyond me). He has dirty magazines hidden under his bed. He is fundamentally uncomfortable with this place in the world.
This guy is returning from the Army and he's still working out insecurities that most of us have knocked by age 16. His personality consists entirely of being nervous and jerking off with stuffed animals to soap opera-quality fantasy sequences.
The plot, what there is of it, involves Sonny and Gunner (could these names be any more trite?) hanging around together seeking some kind of universal truth through trying to score with loose girls.
This is one of those 1990s versions of the 1950s in which all the girls, even the good girls, flop on their backs at the slightest provocation.
"Going All the Way" is based on a best-selling book by Dan Wakefield, which I haven't read. But if it's anything like the screenplay, it must be subtitled "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Coming Of Age In the '50s Clichés."
Director Mark Pellington, an MTV graduate and film freshman, fails to hold the film on any course and the results are a completely rudderless narrative and paper doll characters.
The one notable exception is Affleck ("Chasing Amy"), who has such a presence that when he's on the screen, he's the only thing you look at. But since he is a secondary character, this only serves to highlight Pellington's weak directorial hand.