Think of '10,' writer-director Blake Edwards' raucous male menopause comedy, and two things spring immediately to mind: Bo Derek jogging on a beach in a revealing one-piece swimsuit in slow-motion and Ravel's 'Bolero,' which overnight became the unlikely sexual soundtrack and pre-Viagra stimulant for many middle-aged Americans hoping to recapture their bygone youth. Oh yes, there's also Dudley Moore getting stung by a bee on his schnoz, tumbling down a steep ravine while jacked up on pain pills, and spying on his neighbor's round-the-clock orgy with his telescope, and prim and proper Julie Andrews (shockingly) giving the same neighbor the finger when he uses his telescope to spy on her. '10' brims with slapstick - after all, Edwards helmed a host of 'Pink Panther' pictures and possesses a natural flair for the ridiculous - but look deeper and you'll discover the film is far more than a silly, titillating sex romp. In addition to Bo Derek's breasts and Moore's pratfalls, '10' has brains and heart, and though it might seem a little dated around the edges - 8-track tapes are out of style, thank heaven, and the type of free love depicted in the film vanished with the dawn of AIDS - the points it makes about aging, love, and identity remain surprisingly timeless for a comedy of this sort.
On a personal level, I can certainly relate to and appreciate '10' much more fully today than when I first saw the film as a 16-year-old back in 1979. Thirty-two years ago, the midlife crisis of George Webber (Moore) seemed a lifetime away for me, but now that I'm in the midst of my own menopausal mess (and, sadly, six years older than George), his thoughts and attitudes hit home. The pursuit of a fantasy, desire to remain young and attractive, and fear of aging are issues many men face, and Edwards tackles them with humor and a delicate warmth that nicely temper some of the tiresome gags. He also examines with a keen eye and straightforward approach the never-ending battle of the sexes and myriad factors and attitudes that shape, build, strengthen, alter, and destroy relationships.
George hates the idea of turning 42, despite a successful songwriting career and stable, loving relationship with divorced stage star Samantha Taylor (Andrews). His dogged determination to beat back age, however, leads him to foolishly stalk a ravishing young bride (Derek) whom he spies by chance in a limousine while his Mercedes is stopped at a traffic light. The lustful odyssey ultimately leads him to Mexico, where he finally tracks down his dream girl, as a perplexed and angry Samantha stews in L.A.
Edwards can't resist indulging his penchant for lowbrow comedy, and though Moore is talented enough to wring some laughs from the material, the more understated moments and spirited verbal interplay between the characters outshine the physical schtick. The pointed sparring between George and Samantha as they debate the meaning of a "broad" is one of the film's high points, as is Moore's lengthy piano solo, which comes out of nowhere, yet lends the story unexpected depth and emotion. Conversations with a bemused bartender (Brian Dennehy) also yield some choice nuggets, both from George and a melancholy single lady (Dee Wallace) looking for love.
'10' turned Moore into a major American star, and though in subsequent vehicles he often could be grating and over the top (his drunk act turned stale after a while), he projects a genuine sweetness here that's quite endearing. Too many outrageous mishaps befall his character, but despite all the tomfoolery, Moore makes it oh-so-easy for men to identify with what George is going through and, though we may be loath to admit it, even see ourselves acting in a similar manner. Andrews is excellent as the patient, long-suffering mate, and after years of playing the virginal ingenue, it's a treat to see her at last let her hair down and embrace a tougher, more emancipated woman. Even Derek surprised me this time around. We all know she wasn't cast for her acting ability, but her doe-eyed sincerity and matter-of-fact way of expressing her character's cavalier attitude toward sex go a long way toward driving home the film's point. As for her physical beauty...well, let's just say the movie is called '10' for a reason.
Guys will go for '10' more than gals, but it's a movie that even today can spark some spirited dialogue. Times may change, but the basic hard-wiring of men and women will always remain the same, and '10,' underneath all the extraneous gags, paints a fairly accurate portrait of what we go through and how we feel and relate during a transitional period in our lives. Like Derek's character, it's not terribly deep, but it does makes us think just a bit.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'10' arrives on Blu-ray packaged in a standard case. The 25-GB single-layer disc houses the film's 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer and DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack. Upon insertion of the disc, the static menu with music pops up immediately following the Warner Home Video logo; no previews or promos precede it.
'10,' unbelievably, is now more than 30 years old, and this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer often betrays the film's age. It's still a decent effort, with good clarity and contrast, but it's obvious not a lot of care went into prepping this movie for Blu-ray.
Only a few nicks or marks dot the source material, which exhibits fine grain that maintains a warm film-like feel. Some of the dimly lit scenes look a bit muddy and adopt an orange glow (as do fleshtones), but exteriors are bright and vibrant, with lush primary hues (reds are especially bold, like the blanket in George's bedroom) lending the picture some pop. Yet color timing is sometimes off; during the rescue of Jenny's husband, the ocean water alternates between deep blue and blue-gray from shot to shot, and the discrepancy is quite jarring.
Intermittent softness is an issue, too, with some scenes adopting a gauzy look, while others exhibit an almost razor sharpness. (The reflection on the Malibu beach house glass is exceptionally well rendered.) Background elements also fluctuate, appearing crystal clear one minute and maddeningly fuzzy the next. Black levels are rich, but the inkiness occasionally causes some crush, and digital noise is quite apparent on larger expanses of solid color, such as interior walls. Shadow delineation also tends to be weak. Close-ups, however, sport a pleasing level of fine detail; shots of Derek applying tanning oil leave no doubt that she is indeed a perfect 10.
Thankfully, edge enhancement, noise reduction, and banding all seem to be absent. Even though this transfer is inconsistent, it's surely a big improvement over DVD. Fans looking to upgrade will no doubt be pleased, just not ecstatic.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track outputs satisfactory sound that possesses good fidelity and dynamic range, but there's not much to crow about.
Dialogue is well prioritized and always easy to understand, and Andrews' vocals and Moore's piano playing exude a warm depth of tone. Henry Mancini's score (and Ravel's 'Bolero') also come across well, filling the room as much as the limited channels will allow. Details, such as Derek's jangling cornrows, are crisp and distinct, as are the atmospherics that accompany many of the slapstick antics.
A tiny bit of distortion could be detected early in the film, but any pops and crackles or hiss have been erased. All in all, this is a serviceable track that quietly does its job, nothing more.
Just a couple of negligible extras adorn this catalogue release.
'10' may not score a perfect 10 on the movie meter or rate half that many stars, but it remains a witty and often wise battle-of-the-sexes, male menopause comedy. Writer-director Blake Edwards slathers on the gags a bit thick, but makes plenty of perceptive points, and Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews, and Bo Derek keep things lively. Video quality is a bit spotty and the audio won't turn any heads, but both still trump the DVD. Supplements aren't much either, but despite such mediocre specs, the film is good enough to merit a spin, especially if you're encroaching upon or deep into middle age. Fans shouldn't hesitate to upgrade; all others should test drive first.