Author Jim Thompson created some of the darkest pulp crime fiction ever to land between the covers of greasy paperbacks left in two bit diners on dark rain soaked nights. He was a writer whose tales were filled with sleazy grifters and psychopaths. An alcoholic himself, Thompson’s works featured characters that drank too much booze, like it was a life-saving device.
In “Middle Age Crazy”, Bobby Lee (Bruce Dern) is turning forty. It seems he can no longer take the pressure of being married to sex-loving Sue Ann (Ann-Margret), or that his college age son is dropping out, or his father dying or the pressure put upon him at his job. So Bobby Lee decides buy a new sports car and has an affair with a Dallas Cheerleader, to get away from all this pressure. Sue Ann, feeling rejected and abandon has an affair of her own. In the end, they finally decide to talk and jump into their hot tub fully clothed and make up. Credits roll. The problem, or should I say one of the problems, is that it is hard to feel sorry for Bobby Lee since, looking at the home he lives in, he obviously is making a good living. In addition, he has a beautiful wife who loves him and whose only fault seems to be is that she likes to have sex with him (she screams out “Bingo” every time she has an orgasm). Poor Bobby Lee, my heart goes out to him. The script attempts to make a point about entering middle age and the realization that life is passing you by however, it just comes off as dull and duller and in the end, nothing much happens.
Uninspired direction by Canadian John Trent keeps the pace slow, as does a TV of the movies script by Carl Kleinschmitt. The title song was written and sung by Jerry Lee Lewis.
The big question is how this film ever was made as a big budgeted feature and not as a movie of the week. Today it would be on the Lifetime channel. The cast is fine and it is good to see Bruce Dern play a regular guy for a change instead of a whacked out loser or a killer. Ann-Margret looks beautiful and does a nice job as the adoring Sue Ann as does Deborah Wakeham as Nancy, the Dallas Cheerleader, Dern hooks up with.
The film has not had a DVD release however, it was released on VHS years ago it is possible it may be found at a video store that still rents them. “Middle Age Crazy” is worth a look if you like either Bruce Dern or Ann-Margret however, even their fans will have a tough time keeping focus.