Up the Sandbox - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Up the Sandbox Reviews

Page 1 of 2
December 31, 2017
Bizarre and surreal. And one of Streisand's finest performances.
August 10, 2016
A woman struggles with her recent pregnancy news in this forgettable drama.
½ July 2, 2015
This is dated film is an exceptionally interesting surreal experimental film. This not a typical Streisand film. Zindel and Kershner approached the line between realism and fantasy in ways that create a disarmingly disorientation. What at first appears to be a fairly clear way of fusing reality into fantasy gradually becomes unclear. It is becomes difficult to know when what we have seen is real or fantasy.
This is achieved by often focusing on the most outlandish fantasies and applying an almost passive construction of scenes which appear to be real.

Much like the novel upon which the film was based, there is a strong and often confused political stand regarding Feminism of the late 1960's and early 1970's. The main character is bored and constantly trying to determine where she stands in a world filled with revolution (both political and sexual) And she feeling more and more confused by a new level of cultural pressures on the identities of women. With the gift of hindsight, the subject and experimentation of the movie makes it seem like a very odd career choice for Streisand who actually produced it.

I gather that the film was met mixed results with critics and a shared confusion of Streisand fans at the time. It was her first commercial flop. Art House audiences didn't trust Pauline Kael's fairly strong review to "chance" it with a Streisand movie.

Over the decades this movie has started to gain the attention of number of Film Theory and Film Historians. It seems to potentially posed for critical re-evaluation.

If nothing else, Up The Sandbox is a great snapshot of an woman caught in the unique Cultural Web that was spun out of the 1960's. The film actually feels more French than American. When humor is presented it is often in a purposely silly way while the more important observations are tend to be articulated in a surprisingly nuanced way.

The idea of Barbra Streisand playing for a silly laugh is not challenging, but a nuanced Streisand seems like an impossible idea. Streisand delivers a shockingly realistic and low-key performance. While she retains a few of her mannerisms, she still manages to form a character far from the ideas associated with her iconic image which was already fairly formed in 1972. This is not the iconic comedic performance one expects to see. Believe it or not Streisand succeeds at playing a believable intelligent housewife, mother, daughter and woman trying to sort it out.

The film also has an odd assortment of talented actors. Most of the minor supporting roles are played by soon to become iconic television actors. Much of TV's The Jeffersons, Electric Company and other soon-to-be-famous 1970's TV shows are present. Most notably, the film features Anne Ramsey and was Stockard Channing's first film role.

The film also speaks to the skill of Irvin Kershner who never really gained the respect he deserved during his lifetime. He was very much apart of the whole new American filmmaking era of Altman, Ashby and Arthur Penn. Instead his mostly remembered as being the film director who found himself at odds with George Lucas as he attempted to form the sequel to Star Wars into something with a bit more depth as faced the task of Return of the Jedi.

Additionally, Gordon Willis provided his brilliance as the cinematographer for Up The Sandbox.

A sadly lost, forgotten and under-appreciated cinematic curiosity. If you can find a way, check it out. Though chances are you will have the opportunity in the not too distant future.
April 7, 2014
I've never understood the dismissive tone people took towards this wonderful, life affirming film. It's a mystery to me.
December 27, 2013
Dismissed at the time of its release, Irvin Kershner's adaptation of Anne Richardson Roiphe's novel is a fascinating bit of post-Femnist surrealism. This is also one of the few films in which Barbra Streisand plays someone other than an idea of herself. She is completely believable as intellectual middle class housewife. The mixture of fantasy and real becomes so artistically convoluted that one is left wondering where the story might be headed. There is magic in this tiny puzzle of a film.
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2013
a frame of time focusing in on what a woman was supposed to be in that era and focusing on the caused psychological effects. could've been valuable in its day but doesn't make much of a statement to me now. for me the hopeless housewife coming to terms with her existence falls flat
April 15, 2012
La película "Up the Sandbox" representa lo mejor de aquellas pequeñas joyas escondidas del cine americano de los años 70: es irreverente, posee una fuerte carga ideológica, es crítica de los valores socialmente aceptados y su oscuro humor transita de lo bizarro a lo políticamente incorrecto. Barbra Streisand brilla en la mejor interpretación de su carrera como una mujer cuyas realidades y fantasías empiezan a intercalarse a raíz de que descubre que se encuentra embarazada por tercera vez. Especialmente memorable es el número musical con Fidel Castro... ¡un pequeño clásico!
April 7, 2012
A wonderfully and wittily serious feminist comedy about a woman's fears and regrets. Barbra Streisand's never been more radiant than in this amazing movie.
May 17, 2010
Loved Barbra of course. And the movie had so much promise and potential - I loved parts of it - loved the messages. But eventually its chaotic nature got me frustrated........
Super Reviewer
July 28, 2009
Odd almost stream of conciousness feminist drama, quite a 70's feeling. Barbra, who looks sensational, gives a serious unaffected performance and provides a strong center to this rather scattershot affair.
June 5, 2009
The only reason why this film flopped in the early 70s was that people got confused with then unconventional approaches used to show a woman under social and personal pressure of motherhood and the obligations of her sex in changing times. Instead of dealing with the reality of her third pregnancy, Barbra's Streisand's Margaret Reynolds has fantasies that range from blowing up the Statue of Liberty to being seduced by a cross-dressing South American dictator to standing up to her smothering mother. These flashbacks do not come with the conventional entrance, and that is what confused audiences at the time. Irvin Kershner, the same director who directed The Empire Strikes Back, did an excellent job directing this unconventional social commentary comedy and Barbra Streisand just fit into her role like a shoe fits into a foot. The film does a great job in showing what pressures women face in every day life, and is one of the first images on film that motherhood isn't all picket fences, chocolate chip cookies, and Leave It To Beaver excess dribble. It was realistic, and if it weren't for this film, realistic portrayals of motherhood wouldn't soon follow.
April 5, 2009
did Strisdand do it for the money, i think so. trash trash trash
March 10, 2009
A fictional exploration of many of the womenâ??s issues which at the time were just beginning to be discussed: Raising Children vs. Pursuing a Career, Asserting Individuality vs. Cooperating in a Marriage. The Joys of Motherhood vs. the Necessity of Abortion, and the husbandâ??s powerful influence over these decisions (an influence, in the case of the abortion, that is played out long before he becomes aware of the issue). It goes into the role that women were playing out at the time, and the debate of what their future role should be. At one point it even veers into the subject of revolutionary terrorism and interracial romance (an element the Streisand says the studio insisted be cut out).

Watching it again I really loved the cinematography, but the movie over all was just ok. The documentary feel of the photography complements the acting in a production that heavily emphasized improvisation, as well as the running theme of the film, which was this married with children womanâ??s fantasy life. As such its one of those films were the parts are greater then the whole.

Although it falls far short of the film it could have been, as a film it is still critically underrated. One of the reasons for this is that Streisand was at the time at the height of her pop icon status. Because she was its star it is considered a failed pop movie, whereas if it had starred Gena Rowlands it would be remember as a well-crafted art film. And if you didnâ??t change a single frame of film made it from France, or inserted John Cassevettes name, instead of Irvin Kershner, they would be writing books on what a work of genius this was.
October 6, 2008
sooooo funny,and stupid. but its entertaining too.
½ September 14, 2008
Kind of a strange storyline but very interresting on its take on the position of women in society in the 70's and how they were starting to struggle with their rights and their image...
August 17, 2008
An ok film and i think Barbras great, but i disliked the film as if was all over the place and hard to keep track of what was reality and what was her imagination!
½ August 2, 2008
Streisand strikes out again.
June 24, 2008
Its a bit confussing with all the jumping around!
May 7, 2008
This almost completely forgotten film (except to Barbra's die-hard fans) is an interesting look into the lives and social pressures of the average American woman during the early 1970's. Adapted from Anne Richardson Roiphe's feminist novel of the same name, the film is charming with an over-all upbeat indie feel.

Streisand's portrayal of Margaret is very low key, leaving out much of the bravado and distinct acting style she is known for. This works to the film's advantage as it enables the viewer to see her character and not "Barbra Streisand playing a character". The musical score is also low key, but mellow and enjoyable. A vocal version of the ending theme, "If I Close My Eyes", was recorded by Streisand for use over the credits, but ultimately not used at her request. Barbra wanted the viewers to come away still focused on the themes and messages in the movie and not her vocal performance. The song was instead released as a promotional single. The song was later included on her "Just for the Record..." 3CD boxset.

While a good film, its biggest flaw is the fantasy sequences, which are used to juxtapose Margaret's internal struggles with her identity as a woman in modern society and dissatisfaction with her life choices to that of her daily life and role as a mother. These sequences, which are bizarre and outlandish, are not executed well in terms of their initial execution. The transition between fantasy and reality is so subtle that the viewer is thrown for a loop when snapped back into reality, because they didn't realize they'd strayed into fantasy to begin with. This was also a problem in the book, as every other chapter was a fantasy sequence but this was not stated anywhere. As a reader you were left to figure out the pattern on your own, which proved more difficult than it sounds as many of the fantasies were closely in line with Margaret's daily activities.

By today's standards the film is very dated, but it makes for a good intellectual commentary about the plight of women in the changing social climate of the early 1970's. I definitely recommend this film, but advise that you go into it with no expectations and a very open mind knowing that it might take a few viewings to really get out of it the messages that are trying to be conveyed.
April 10, 2008
Streisand is all that is cruel and evil in this world. Her music is awful. Her movies are worse. She loves the sound of orgasms. Can you say weird? I can't without saying Striesand. I have smelt farts taht entertained me more than BABS ever will. Rosie O'Donnel's ever growing love for her sickens me. Vote libertarian.
Page 1 of 2