A motley group of six male friends, finding themselves distinctly single all at the same time, decide to spend the summer at the beach house one of them is sitting for, in this two-part telefilm. Conrad, whose wife has fled him after years of mistreatment, invites each of his buddies to hang out in the sand and surf, just like the old days. However, before long, it's clear that the old days were just that and now things have changed for each of the men. Bessell has ditched his wife and daughter, using his recent cancer scare as an excuse. Conaway is an aspiring talent agent who worries if he can still afford alimony once he branches out on his own. Crystal is a recovering alcoholic who wants to make it up to his two young boys. Musante split up do to his constant cheating. Stiers' wife leaves him for a younger, more nimble type of guy. The sextet frolics in the sand, argues intermittently and attempts to party as if they're all still in their 20's. Many soapy complications blend with the male histrionics they each go through as they try to examine where it all went wrong. It occasionally rings true and there are a few poignant, real moments of connection along the way, but more often than not, it's a parade of forced camaraderie, overenthusiastic recreation and, worst of all, melodramatic moments that frequently involve running up and down the beach or fisticuffs. There's one particularly horrendous sequence in which the men acquire motorcycles, dress up like bikers (they are all connected with showbiz) and then tangle with a pack of real ones. Despite the oppressive length and the emphasis on the male side of divorce, none of the actors really gets a chance to truly break out and display what makes them tick. Conrad (a man who built a career out of showing off his body and his tightly packaged crotch - and repeats such maneuvers here very often) does a good job of showing the downside of machismo pride covering up true feelings. Stiers gets a rare chance to emote dramatically and does it rather well. Bessell is "quirky" in the extreme and this may separate him emotionally from some viewers. Musante (fans of whom will want to note that he spends lengthy time in a li'l red speedo) does a nice job and shares one really good scene with Stewart, a woman who won't play things his way. Conaway looks ridiculous most of the time and is easily outdone by Sullivan who turns up as a rich-bitch film actress. Crystal does a fine job, but his low-key character somehow seems to get lost in the mix (possibly due to his lesser-known status at the time?) Most of the female cast, apart from Sullivan, Stewart and Franklin (as Stiers no-nonsense love interest) is nondescript and unmemorable (and in some cases, badly acted.) It is unusual, even now, for a film to show these issues from a male perspective, but unfortunately this is mostly a superficial examination, almost a novelty, a straight attempt at "The Boys in the Band".
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (1979 TV Movie)
User ReviewsReview this title
well-acted mind candy
13 July 2001
The light and dark, happy and sad, are well-characterized in this well-acted made-for-TV soaper. It's nothing you haven't seen before, but it's done more artfully than most. David Ogden Stiers is memorable in his role. Crystal & Bradbury are poignant as a couple who do everything together except communicate.
6 July 2014
This film is an ensemble piece that aired on television when made for television movies aired in the seventies and eighties. The almost entire cast is full of television actors and actresses familiar to audiences. Cast members like Jeff Conaway (Taxi), Bonnie Franklin ( One Day at a Time), David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H), and others would get hiatus breaks to film these projects and a break from their series characters. In those days, the three major networks rewarded their stars with projects in order to keep them happy. This film has a serious undertone at times while trying to point out the seriousness of the divorce epidemic; alcoholism; tragedy; and relationships among themselves is not so easy. When one gets a Malibu beach house, he invites his newly separated and divorced friends there. Billy Crystal plays a likable character as does Ted Bessell too. Robert Conrad is fine but the script isn't solid too.