Toward the end of its 14-season run, the wholesome sitcom THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET was looking extremely out-of-touch to mid-1960s America. So Ozzie Nelson wrote and directed this theatrical feature starring his son, Rick Nelson -- who'd become a music teen idol while on the series, with his chart-topping 1958 single "Poor Little Fool" -- in hopes of changing with the times. He failed miserably. Ozzie began by purchasing the rights to Anita Rowe Block's similarly-titled 1963 Broadway comedy about teenage wedlock (which only ran for 13 performances!), then adapting it to Rick's musical strengths... The suburban Pringle Family, Jeff (Jack Kelly, Bart Maverick from TV's MAVERICK) and Carol (Madelyn Himes), are stunned when their high-school-senior son Buzzy (Rick) announces that he impetuously married longtime girlfriend Rosemary (older sister to Mark Harmon and Rick's real-life wife, Kristin Nelson, in her film debut) at the courthouse. Of course, the shortsighted couple don't have a place to live, so they simply plan to crash with Buzzy's parents in his bedroom. Adding to the complications, the family's eldest kid Elizabeth is also planning her upcoming wedding to Jerry Van Dyke's grating know-it-all Freddy... What's the level of its alleged humor? Rosemary turns out to be a horrible cook, plus she annoys her new in-laws by redecorating their home without asking. And, of course, both kids are utterly clueless when it comes to the physical intimacies of marriage (e.g., Rosemary is confused about whether a wife is supposed to take the top or bottom bunk-bed). When the teens' inevitable quarreling gets out of hand, Jeff uses reverse psychology on Buzzy to pull them back together. Because father knows best, don't you know? Most of the film takes place inside the Pringles' Universal City backlot home, so nothing here feels remotely authentic, compounded by flat cinematography from Robert C. Moreno, who shot over 100 episodes of OZZIE AND HARRIET. The only sequence that breaks the tedium is Buzzy's bizarre nightmare about Rosemary getting a job as a stripper at a 'sleazy' nightclub. 24-year-old Rick isn't the most expressive actor but gets to perform a handful of forgettable songs including "Come Out Dancin'," "Say You Love Me," plus the title tune. At least 19-year-old Kristin (who married Rick when she was 17 and gave birth to future SQUARE PEGS actress Tracy Nelson six months later) makes a believably naive, in-over-her-head teenager. Both Kelly and Himes (who were hired after Ozzie saw them in the Chicago company of the play) are passable, while the supporting cast includes Pert Kelton as the family's wisecracking nanny, Barry Livingston (MY THREE SONS) is their paperboy, Alvy Moore (GREEN ACRES' Hank Kimball) plays an inept cop, and Howard McNear (THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW's Floyd the Barber) is the school principal. It's lightweight hokum, with any potentially amusing moments quashed by sitcom-level directing and pacing.
© 2023 by Steven Puchalski.