Fact: this is the first movie I've blogged about on this site that's both a Oscar and a Golden Globe winner for the song "Evergreen".
Fact: I have long since made fun of the lyrics to the song "Evergreen" without realizing it was a) from this movie and b) a Barbra Streisand song. You can't sing a lyric that compares love to a easy chair and not expect me to mock it.
No one in this movie ever calls him just "John". Its always "John Howard" or "John Howard Norman". This may have been because the filmmakers felt that no one would accept a hero named John, leading to theater attendees storming out of the theaters in protest.
Fact: John Howard Norman never sings a whole complete song. He starts songs, then always interrupts and we as an audience have no idea why people even bother going to his shows to begin with.
Here's what someone should have prepared me for. No one knows how to wear shirts in this movie. Shirts are really more of a suggestion or an opinion. So as a result, they're maybe buttoned or worn halfway or in this case, Kris Kristofferson just forwent the shirt entirely and skipped to the vest. To each his own, I suppose.
After an evening of kind of singing parts of two songs, he leaves his own show and goes to a club where we're introduced to Barbra Streisand aka "Esther Hoffman".
So they're singing, and Barbra is being Barbra. However, every romance movie needs a "meet cute" and we get with this moment...
Now, lets put this situation in "real life" shall we? In movie life, Barbra sings at a club and she hears a drunk guy shouting and getting drunker. She confronts him, he's charmed by it, chases her down and begs to date her. She kind of plays coy and allows him to bring a pizza to her house at 7am the next day.
In "real life", Barbra would have finished her set, gone backstage, complained with the rest of The Oreos (sigh). Had "John Howard Norman" come slurring her way, a bouncer would have steered him to his car and he would have woken up ten hours later not remembering anything. Roll credits!
But they have breakfast and are super cutesy about eating pizza and him guzzling down a whiskey and a few more beers for breakfast, so he invites her to come to his show.
...and this inevitably happens...
...where you know, everyone's going to have to file back out and spend three hours in their cars wondering what on earth they just saw.
In "real life", Esther Hoffman would have been angry and annoyed, spent hundreds of dollars on an Uber getting back to her house and written an interesting op-ed piece to Rolling Stone on what a tool John Howard Norman is.
Instead, she finds it cute that he stalked her at a studio and follows him home to his house where they make sweet music together...
So many beer cans in this scene.
He does yet another show, where he starts to sing a song and people are into it, but he stops barely into the first chorus and goes, "Hey guys, you paid to see me, but you'll be fine letting my girlfriend of two days taking over, right?"
In the frenzy of the show, Barbra proposes to "John Howard Norman". JHN gives her a very solid reason why this is a terrible decision. Namely that he's an awful person who's life is a total mess. Never mind, she knows what she wants and thats that.
The movie clearly has very little to do between now and JHN's inevitable death (spoiler alert) so it does that thing that only bad movies do...there's a montage. And it has everything that a '70s love montage needs...
And, this movie dares to wave its codependency flag again, when Esther goes to calm down in the bathroom and is followed by JHN.
He doesn't show up for things when she needs him to, but instead of processing the links between addiction and unhealthy relationships, she puts on more drapey clothes and wonders why as she literally stares at empty glass vessels that used to hold alcohol.
While she's gone however, a sexy journalist breaks into their home and begs for an interview with Esther. She'll do anything.
And he obliges.
Frankly, at this point, I won't blame his addiction, I'll just blame the '70s. Neither of them are clearly ever going to learn anything at this point.
So the universe takes over. He gets up early, drinks a lot of beer and has a fatal accident.
PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME.
Should you care to delve deeper into this, you can watch this movie on Amazon, HBO GO or in physical disc form from Netflix.
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