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While some prefer a city life
With urban pleasures close at hand,
Still others call for space and land,
For rivers clear and mountains grand,
And do not seem to understand
A noisy, city life.

Some love the woods unpopulated;
Some love the bustling avenues;
And some appreciate both views
And do not know which one to choose.
To pick but one and one refuse
Sometimes is complicated.

MPAA rating: PG (should be PG-13 for language)

My VC had me watch Continental Divide some time ago, and I never remembered it being anything special, aside from the unlikely casting of John Belushi as a romantic lead. He plays Ernie Souchak, a provocative newspaperman who pushes too hard on a crooked politician and, for his own good, is sent to the Rocky Mountains to write a story about eagle expert Nell Porter (Blair Brown). Helpless as he is and remote as they are, Nell grudgingly agrees to allow him to stay in her cabin, and we all know what can happen when this attractive woman and…well, this man share a cabin for an extended period of time. Yet, eventually they must deal with the fact that the two of them have different homes and different passions that will inevitably keep them apart.

Seeing Continental Divide again, there’s still nothing that would make this a favorite romance of mine, but it was far better than I recalled. The script isn’t as funny as I would expect for a John Belushi film, but the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill) still establishes two likable characters even before they become lovebirds. As mismatched as they seem at first glance, Belushi and Brown do share some burgeoning chemistry so I see why my VC sighs that “they make such a cute couple.” Yet, what makes the film special is the mountainous setting and Nell’s nature-centric lifestyle; the expansive vistas of Colorado offer a gloriously romantic backdrop to the log cabin love affair.

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Continental Divide often has the look and feel of a TV movie, and my VC thinks it would have made a promising TV spinoff, if not for Belushi’s death months after its release. The film eventually presents the expected challenges of a long-distance relationship, and while the resolution won’t please everyone equally, the relationship on display is worth some charming optimism.

Best line: (Souchak) “The air was thin. She was average cute. She was the only girl up there. The air was thin!”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S.G. Liput
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