Taking Off

Classic Movie Review: Miloš Forman's first Hollywood film holds up better than most counterculture relics

Director: Miloš Forman

Writers: Jean-Claude Carrière, Miloš Forman, John Guare, Jon Klein

Starring: Lynn Carlin, Buck Henry

Released in the United States in 1971 and in the Czech Republic in 2005, Miloš Forman's first American film holds up better than most counterculture relics because it eschews the generation gap's polarized politics to focus with deceptively gentle wit on its mutual befuddlement.

Searching for their runaway teenage daughter, suburbanites Larry and Lynn Tyne (Henry and Carlin) fall in with a group of similarly clueless parents trying to get inside the heads of their lost boys and girls, culminating in an explosively funny pot party and a punch line that deliciously connotes how the times were really a-changin'.

Interspersing the story with scenes from a free-floating, zeitgeist-framing musical audition, Taking Off extols the uninhibited idealism of the hippie aesthetic without sentimentalizing it (unlike Forman's subsequent Hair) and riffs on middle-class complacency and inertia without condescension or judgment. And a verge-of-stardom Carly Simon turns up to sing a cute song about weed.

Year: 1971

Runtime: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes

Video on YouTube

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