Portnoy’s Complaint -1972
Philip Roth (novel)
Karen Black, Lee Grant
Review by Wayne Malin
THIS was considered obscene?
Boring, pointless movie about a neurotic man (Richard Benjamin) and his relationship with his overbearing mother (Lee Grant) and with a pretty strange woman (Karen Black).
I heard this was considered a very dirty movie back in 1972 for its language and subject matter (especially all the talk about masturbation). It’s hard to believe that now–most of the material here is done on TV today with no problem! This is very much a product of its time–the sexual politics and issues dealt with here are done in a very 1970s manner. When you have John Carradine play the voice of God you KNOW you’re in trouble!
I’ve never read the book this was based on so I can’t say how faithful this is–but what remains is a pointless, boring and stupid movie. Benjamin’s nonstop whining gets annoying pretty quick and he’s completely miscast. Grant is (surprisingly) not that good either and is also miscast. There’s a dinner table sequence that (I suppose) is supposed to be funny involving them but it comes off as being pretty sick. The only actor that is any good here is Karen Black as “Monkey”. She single-handedly saves this movie from being totally unbearable. She’s the only reason I give this a 3.
This is a dated, pointless 1970s movie that’s rightfully forgotten. You might like it if you’re into 70s movies that deal with sexual politics. I give this a 3.