Me and Him (1988) poster

Me and Him (1988)

Rating:

(Ich & Er)


West Germany. 1988.

Crew

Director – Doris Dörrie, Screenplay/Screen Story – Warren D. Leight, Adaptation – Doris Dörrie & Michael Juncker, Suggested by the Novel Io e Lui by Alberto Moravia, Producer – Bernd Eichinger, Photography – Helge Weindler, Music – Klaus Doldinger, Visual Effects – Balsmeyer & Everett, Inc. (Supervisor – Randall Balsmeyer), Production Design – Suzanne Cavedon. Production Company – Neue Constantin Film.

Cast

Griffin Dunne (Bert Uttanzi), Heiner Lauterbach (Voice of Him/Er), Ellen Greene (Anette Uttanzi), Carey Lowell (Janet Anderson), Kelly Bishop (Eleanor Aramis), Craig T. Nelson (Peter Aramis), Jarrod Gormick (Bert Uttanzi, Jr.), David Alan Grier (Peter Conklin), Kara Glover (Juliette), Rocco Sisto (Art Strong), Bill Raymond (Humphrey), Samuel E. Wright (Paramedic #1), Toukie Smith (Deli Delilah), Kim Flowers (Corazon)


Plot

Bert Uttanzi works for an architecture firm in New York City. He is married to Anette and they have a son Bert, Jr. Bert is startled when his penis begins talking to him, although nobody else can hear it. Bert’s penis is bored with married life and wants to go out and have new adventures. The voice of his penis is instrumental in Bert successfully pitching a waterfront development. Bert decides to move out of home and into a colleague’s vacant apartment. This proves to be an opportunity for his penis to drag him astray at every opportunity.


When you read the premise for Me and Him – about a man whose penis starts talking to him – you do a double-take. You immediately start thinking wondering what type of film it is going to be – the immediate mental image is of a pornographic film along the lines of Chatterbox (1977) in which Candice Rialson had a talking vagina, or else some kind of 1970s British sex comedy. Or maybe it could be a much edgier work than that – you keep being reminded of the title character and his talking penis in Marquis (1989). In the subsequent comedy Bad Johnson (2014), Cam Gigandet’s penis becomes an entire person of its own.

Me and Him is based on Io e Lui (1971) (translated as The Two of Us) by Alberto Moravia, an Italian writer who specialised in sexuality as a topic. The film is made by Neue Constantin (a rebranded version of Germany’s Constantin Film), although is shot in English in the USA with an American cast. German director Doris Dörrie has made a body of comedies between the early 1980s and the present, almost all on the subject of sex and relationships.

For all such an outrageous concept, Me and Him plays out with a thorough banality. It is no more than a standard 1980s comedy where Griffin Dunne’s talking penis as a standard Imaginary Companions – it could be replaced by a six foot tall rabbit, a mischievous ghost or a leprechaun with little difference as we go through various comic complications it gets him into. Contrary to one’s expectations though, most of the film is PG-13 – there are not even any naked bodies and we never actually get to see the talking penis anywhere throughout.

Griffin Dunne surrounded by available women in Me and Him (1988)
Griffin Dunne surrounded by available women

On the other hand, some of the sexual attitudes read fairly badly today. Those who get irate about such matters would probably have a meltdown. It is essentially a film about how a guy’s unrestrained penis causes him to turn all women he meets into sex objects. The film seems to have zero problem with workplace sexual harassment. The scene that would probably cause anyone prone to meltdown to go full-on China Syndrome is the scene where Griffin Dunne sits at a table in the library across from Carey Lowell and goes through a silent pantomime where he slips a sock-clad foot up her legs and between her thighs, all before finding she is his new co-worker. (In a trivia note, Dunne and Carey Lowell ended up marrying shortly after the film came out!)

The film’s plot passes from one such unfunny encounter to the next. This is a film that seems to glorify – or at least raise no objection to – its central character cheating. In contrast to this, there seems an absurd faux morality that comes after the penis’s rampant lusts have isolated Griffin Dunne from everybody around him and he returns and settles back in to the happily domesticated married life at the end, even though the film has spent much of the running time repudiating marriage as an utterly boring option.


Trailer here


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