It's kind of hard to believe the filmmakers had three years to whip "Town & Country" into shape and that this is the best movie they could assemble.

Instead, this jawdroppingly bad comedy almost seems like it was improvised on the spot, shot quickly and then shipped off to the developing lab within hours, rather than being the monumental undertaking it was. And frankly, the years of effort it took just to get the film to this point weren't worth it.

In fact, there's evidence here to suggest this film was never going to amount to much of anything anyway. From the opening notes of composer Rolfe Kent's score, it's clear "Town & Country" is trying desperately to be the Movie Woody Allen Never Made. But with its painfully strained attempts at humor, its desperate reliance on crude sex gags and its embarrassingly over-the-top performances, this would be lucky to be the Movie Woody Harrelson Never Made.

Perhaps the biggest question of all is why a cast this talented got involved in this debacle to begin with. That includes Warren Beatty, who stars as Porter Stoddard, a happily married New York architect wondering whether he should come clean about his recent affair with a musician (Nastassja Kinski).

However, he's a little worried about how his seemingly devoted wife, Ellie (Diane Keaton), will react to the news — especially after seeing what happened to the marriage between their best friends, Griffin and Mona (Garry Shandling and Goldie Hawn).

While he mulls over his options, Porter's wandering eye begins wandering even more than usual — resulting in ill-timed flings with an eccentric heiress (Andie MacDowell), a free spirit (Jenna Elfman) and even the newly single Mona.

There are a lot of culprits that could be blamed for this mess, most notably director Peter Chelsom, who doesn't seem to understand the word subtlety.

But it's not as if the script (credited to veterans Michael Laughlin and Buck Henry but worked over by several others) is funny — nor are any of the performances, for that matter.

Even though Keaton tries to bring some class, Beatty and Hawn appear to be looking for a way out. (The same could be said of Charlton Heston, who's in the film solely for the purpose of being the butt of some crude sexual allegations.)

"Town & Country" is rated R for vulgar sex humor and use of crude sexual slang terms, scattered use of strong profanity, simulated sex, brief female partial nudity and fleeting glimpses of nude artwork, and brief violence (gunfire). Running time: 103 minutes.


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