One of the darkest and funniest comedies about marriage and divorce ever made, THE WAR OF THE ROSES sinks to hilarious depths to mine serious laughs.
Michael Douglas is Oliver Rose, a driven, meticulous man moving up fast in his firm. He falls madly in love with Barbara (Kathleen Turner) and their marriage seems perfect, culminating in a massive mansion and two not-so-picture-perfect children.
Barbra decorates the house as a massive project, but when it's done, finds herself bored.
After a tragically funny sequence in which Oliver thinks he is dying and Barbara's sense of urgency to join him at the hospital seems lacking, Barbara announces she'd like a divorce.
Oliver and the viewer better buckle up at this point.
With both sides refusing to leave the mansion, it becomes a battle of wills to humiliate, destroy and beat the other spouse.
The catering scene with Oliver helping with the Soup is a favorite, along with the fate of their beloved pets. (Animal lovers beware!)
I found the whole thing very, very funny, but was a bit surprised watching it again just how dark the movie is.
Director Danny DeVito is a talented filmmaker and his films were often twisted (Throw Momma From the Train, Matilda) but he never dove as deep into jet black comedy as he does here.
DeVito also plays Gavin, a lawyer that narrates the story throughout, offering perspective while flashing back to the couple's story.
It's probably because Douglas and Turner had played a romantic couple much more happily in "Romancing the Stone" and it's sequel that they have such a comfort level here.
They are fearless playing people that sink low to win. The line between love and hate is thin and our leads dance all over that line. Turner is especially good, making me say at least twice aloud, "Wow, she is really not a good person."
Entertaining and hilarious, hell yes, but this is not a feel-good movie.
It's a trip down the wormhole from love at first sight to "I hate your guts", taking a fortune in personal property and reputation down into the pit on their backs.
It's a wild ride, but I loved every minute of it.
Don't hold your breath for a traditional, happy ending.
DeVito, Douglas and Turner don't have anything that conventional in mind.
Bold and unflinching, WAR gets an A.