The big screen adaptation of Neil Simon’s play is not only one of the best romance comedies I’ve ever seen, but is also one of the very few romance comedies to make me laugh hysterically. The pairing of Jane Fonda with Robert Redford is a master stroke, and the pair as lovelorn newlyweds reveal a hidden often underrated comedic timing that makes the movie as much of a slapstick comedy as it is a sweet tale of reality dawning on two just married lovers that find life rearing its head toward them slowly.
Fonda and Redford play Paul and Corie Bratter, two newlyweds that have enjoyed their honeymoon spent in a hotel and now have to figure out how to begin living life with obligations and duties that Corie fears could derail their lives as lovers. Much of their first days as a married couple are met with difficulties, as Corie’s bought the cheapest apartment in New York. This apartment resides on the top floor in an old building with no elevator a steep incline of steps. To make things even worse, the apartment is much too small for anyone to live in. That’s only the tip of the iceberg in the way of difficulties they face, but what becomes ever more apparent are their personalities and the friction it can create.
Redford as Paul is a very rigid and somewhat uptight man on the verge of becoming a successful lawyer, while Fonda is an idealistic old fashioned romantic who does whatever it takes to keep her idea of the perfect marriage to her liking. Fonda and Redford have wonderful chemistry and are perfectly believable as a married couple, especially in how they play to one anothers strengths and weaknesses. Paul tends to keep Corie from being much too impulsive, while Corie encourages Paul to seize the moment, and enjoy the smaller things. There’s an especially hilarious moment where Corie sees Paul off at a hotel elevator in a skimpy shirt, pretending to be his mistress.
“Barefoot in the Park” works not just because of its two stars, but because of the sharp script as Redford delivers hilarious one liners like without missing a beat in the story, and plays well as a man very set in his ways. “Barefoot” excels in offering a slew of memorable moments, including Paul and Corie eating an odd dish with their neighbor Victor, their climactic fight, and the endlessly exhausted delivery men unfortunate enough to venture to the top floor. There’s also the great supporting cast which include Charles Boyer as the Bratters’ eccentric upstairs neighbor and Mildred Natwtick as Corie’s mother. The cast really tie together with Simon’s top notch script, delivering a laugh out loud and sweet comedy about marriage and how daunting the future can be.