Getting Straight - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Getting Straight Reviews

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½ February 14, 2016
Here's a tonally confused film. It veers between wacky comedy and heat-on-its-sleeve sincerity in ways that don't really sit comfortably with the viewer. That said, Gould is great and he carries the film for most of it's running time. It's also refreshingly skeptical about the student protesters while ultimately siding with them over the ineffective college administration. (That said, the film is about Gould's personal struggles more than it is about campus unrest, and the balance between these two plots is handled well.) The film's biggest liability is Bergen, who is quite simply awful. I am a big fan of Richard Rush, and this is definitely worth a view for those that share that feeling.
½ August 26, 2014
Don't believe the critics posted here. Especially the usually reliable Emanuele Levy REALLY missed the boat, and says a few things about the film's storyline that are fundamentally wrong and quite misleading Here's my take: Revisiting the 1970 counterculture film "Getting Straight", which has been unfairly much maligned, I find it to be every bit as relevant today, and worth a second look by free-thinking people among you. This is a far more serious and intriguing film than it has been given credit for. I was in college during this time period, and it is more accurate than those who weren't have any idea of. There are many good solid ideas and concepts alluded to here, and the writers encourage you to take those hints and explore them for yourselves. In the end, the two major characters make choices for themselves. But the movie isn't telling you that this is the choice you should make. Ironically, what happened in real life at Kent State, where National Guard troops were ordered onto campus in much the same way as they were here, but then fired those guns and killed students, happened the very same year this film was made. Unfortunately, in real life, that worked. In my mind, that awful event was the beginning of the end of the student movement. Sure, this film has its faults, particularly in a coloring book version of blacks and women, portraying them in ways stereotypical of the time period. One core thought presented here, and one that I don't buy into completely, is the pervasive influence of sex in the functions of society, particularly in a way that people don't realize (very Freudian). Examing that aspect of the movie could be a PhD thesis. But it is the notion of challenging the accepted norms and thinking for yourself that is the clearest and crucial message within, and I urge everyone who reads this to try it.
February 8, 2012
I found this one enjoyable for Elliot Gould's snarky delivery as a protester with feet of clay, trying to buy into the establishment and become a teacher, though he is constantly put back into a place to be a revolutionary by those around him. This includes his cute girlfriend, played by a young Candice Bergen as well as numerous figures around the campus that is primed to explode as the police develop an increasingly large force on the grounds.

The light-hearted tone is broken numerous times by bits of violence, which I suppose is the reality of the times, but it makes for a odd watching at times.

Super Reviewer
½ December 7, 2011
"Getting Straight" means well, but is a bit of an embarrassment. As dated as its title suggests, this look at a troubled West Coast college hits all the required late-'60s issues -- draft-dodging, sexual liberation, drugs, race relations, police brutality -- but is undone by its lack of subtlety. Lunkheaded writing sinks many of the us-versus-them confrontations, and star Elliott Gould flies into ridiculous, hammy tantrums in scene after scene. He plays Harry Bailey, a flawed, passionate, self-centered Vietnam veteran who's back in school to earn a teaching credential. You've rarely seen a character whose narcissism so infects an entire film -- it's as if nothing can happen on this campus without someone asking "What do you think, Harry?" He can't walk down a corridor without five people pawing for his attention.

Harry is torn between joining the younger rebels and playing ball with the dowdy faculty and administrators. The date of his oral Masters exam approaches fast and, meanwhile, he's battling with his well-connected girlfriend (an overly tanned Candice Bergen), who's not cracked up to be a radical and would rather settle down with a solid husband and family. At one point, an exasperated Harry screams "You're not a woman -- you're a guy with a hole in the middle!" There's scarcely a conversation that ends without shouting.

But the whole school is on the verge of an explosive conflict, as protesting students grow more and more incensed. The faculty is melodramatically accused of destroying the kids' futures, but the uproar is actually over demands as humdrum as a black-studies department, co-ed dorms and a later curfew. Not exactly causes worth dying for, but blood drips and flames crackle anyway. The Man just doesn't understand!

Shaggy haircuts, sexism and a twee Simon & Garfunkel-esque soundtrack add to the film's age, but historians will enjoy seeing scattered lines from the young Harrison Ford. Director Richard Rush had a spotty career, but later worked on projects including "Freebie and the Bean" and the brilliant "The Stunt Man."
December 4, 2010
An interesting period piece that could have been called 'The Graduate (Student)' about a Vietnam War vet and former radical returning to school to get his teaching certificate and Masters in English literature. As campus protests heat up, he keeps getting distracted by the demands of his former radical friends, the mixed signals of his girlfriend, and his own complicated feelings about dropping out of the revolution. One of those movies that you have to be interested in the time period (and possess particularly liberal politics) to accept. Which I do. So I loved it.

Gould gives an alternately subdued, complex and finally batshit insane performance; Bergen is completely convincing as the female equivalent, half in love with the revolution, and half desirous of escaping and moving to the suburbs. The final explosion at Gould's Masters oral exam is absolutely perfect and captures the feelings of anyone who has spent enough time in academe to realize how soul-sucking it can be.

Also watch for a young Harrison Ford in a small part.
September 14, 2009
Dated in all the best ways, and demonstrates plenty of wit and style from the director, actors, and screenwriter. What eventually drags this down is the protagonist, the apathetic grad student who just wants to graduate rather than get involved in politics and is always armed with the proper caustic put-down or dramatic speech for any occasion. The problem is that a character like this ‚?? the lone person who can magically see through the BS and inefficiency of everyone around him and will call anyone out on it ‚?? ends up feeling too much like an author construct if not outright surrogate. It‚??s too clearly about someone else‚??s sour grapes rather than any kind of authenticity. And even when the film makes it clear that this guy isn‚??t supposed to be entirely sympathetic he‚??s still placed on this pedestal, the rebel role model, even as he turns out to be increasingly loathsome and the characters around him are more transparently set up to get him to his next cutting remark. Of course, Gould still plays the hell out of it, despite a distractingly awful moustache, and of course there‚??s some pleasure in hearing him shout lines like ‚??you have the loyalty of a snail‚??. But the character‚??s misogyny was the final straw for me rather than his general misanthropy, and I feel like others might not give him the benefit of the doubt as long as I did.
March 16, 2008
Elliott Gould gives a wonderful performance as Harry Bailey, a conflicted grad student, in this 2-hour drama directed by Richard Rush. I could definitely relate to Bailey's dilemma - where he's trying to join the system because he needs to make a living, but every cell in his body opposes it. Elliott Gould is really funny in this movie too. Plus you get to see a young Candice Bergen, a young Harrison Ford, and last but not least: Max 'The Mack' Julien as a student activist. RECOMMENDED.
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