Skin Deep

Skin Deep

Along with S.O.B. and Victor/Victoria, a third Blake Edwards comedy has returned to DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive: Skin Deep (1989).

This one, I admit, I knew nothing about, other than that it starred John Ritter and a lot of random women. Ritter (in his bearded phase) is an alcoholic writer and womanizer who, in the opening scene, is caught in bed with another woman by his mistress (Denise Crosby), who tries to shoot him, and then his wife (Alyson Reed) walks in. He doesn’t have a place to live, since she tosses him out, and he can’t write, since he’s blocked. He spends the rest of the movie trying to sleep with various anonymous girls (one is the Boss’ ex, Julianne Phillips, another the bodybuilder/American Gladiator Raye Hollitt; since it’s the 80s, all have various forms of bad hair) and complaining about how difficult his (rich, accomplished) life is.

Skin Deep

I didn’t have much patience for this — like the later Californication, it asks us to sympathize with a guy whose life would be pretty good if he didn’t keep screwing it up by not being able to keep his dick in his pants or liquor out of his glass. The concept of self-control doesn’t seem to occur to him, or to the kind of men who make these movies to indulge their arguments for pity. Then again, they live in California, where addictions are accommodated until someone winds up dead.

Ritter’s character goes to a bartender, he goes to a shrink, but actually making the difficult choices to improve or work hard at solving his problems seems beyond him. The whole movie is an argument for why everyone should love this asshole anyway, trying to cast his struggles as charming under it all. At least, Ritter makes this unlikable character sympathetic, reminding me just how much of a talent he was. He balances the dramatic and comedy moments well, even if I’m clearly not the audience for this middle-aged-man’s movie.

For special features, there’s the theatrical trailer, some dated cast & crew listings, and some other DVD ads.


  • Jim Kosmicki

    eh – this was a disappointing movie when it came out. I can remember how little I cared about the character. Until you made the connection, I hadn’t even realized that the reason I didn’t watch past the first episode of Californication was probably the similarities to this movie.

    I do, however, remember the duel with the glowing condoms. It was a bit of the Pink Panther slapstick Blake Edwards that many of us wished would come back.

    I believe that at the time my response to this movie was that Edwards knew that “10” was a hit, but chose to emphasize all the worst parts of that movie (the womanizing, the women as sex objects, etc) instead of the parts that people actually liked (sympathetic and fumbling Dudley Moore).

    But yes, Ritter was good – probably incredibly good since he is still at least somewhat sympathetic in the role of a cad. i can’t remember if this was before, after or concurrent with “Hooperman” on ABC, but he always was a smarter, better actor than “Three’s Company” allowed him to be.

  • I started to talk about later-period Blake Edwards, starting with 10, and how similar his movies came to be, basically exaggerating and complaining about his life, but I thought I might get myself in trouble since I still haven’t seen 10. :) Thanks for bringing that out from a position of more knowledge.

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