Being There, the last movie by Peter Sellers and a favorite of many who admired this iconic genious, is not a movie that true admirers of movies would embrace. Directed Hal Ashby, an accomplished director, missed with this movie.
Perhaps the more salient question is whether it is possible to make a grand illusion about a grand delusion and somehow make it a credible illusion. In Being There Ashby attempts a very daring goal. He tries to make a mockery of how simple-minded American society has become. The essence of the story seems to be that the American psyche has become so utterly bland and unsophisticated that the simple act of throwing about random lines acquired from television shows will afford a random stranger entry into the most rarefied of cliques and into the heart of the circle of power.
For many, the commentary worked. For me, it did not. Being There played mostly like a typical Three’s Company episode writ large. After all, the truth is closer to Wag the Dog than it is to Being There: the sophisticated power mongers manipulate an unbearably naive public, not the other way around.
Alas, Shirley McLaine masturbated on camera for nothing.