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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Work Break

Bed of Roses on IMDb

Plot Overview

mom, dad, babyLisa Walker at age 3 months was found abandoned at the Pittsburgh airport. She was taken to a shelter and then adopted by a couple, but the woman died and the man Stanley Krasney was granted custody. He was on the road a lot and ignored her when home, leaving it up to paid help to tend to her. She has no real relatives and has grown up figuring, “all the functions family used to serve are served by friends and colleagues now any­way.” She's collegial at work and, with a supportive boss, has crushed the glass ceiling making VP of an investment firm in her early twenties. When news of Stanley's passing reaches her, she's given a week off to recover.

sunflowersCupid's dartDirectly tragedy strikes when her pet goldfish dies, and she has a meltdown in front of an open window. Flower shop owner Lewis Farell (Christian Slater) sees her in passing and has some pretty flowers delivered to her anonymously. She phones all her friends to find out who sent them, all two of them: her “Capt. Thoughtful” friend (with benefits) Danny (Josh Brolin)—not his style—and her Jewish bff from college Kim (Pamela Segall)—she's intrigued. Having time on her hands Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) visits the flower shop and starts spending time with Lewis and they fall in love and shack up together.

door wreathpresentsharlotChristmas is “meet the parents” time and Lisa is clearly put off by Lewis's large, warm family in their spacious, country home. Tradition has it every­one opens his presents come Xmas a.m. after an evening of anticipation. In the following week the kids will break theirs. This family has a tradition of each opening one present the night before. Lisa leap­frogs the rest by doing a breakup just then.


Stanley was a traveling salesman (“He sold auto parts & mufflers & spark plugs.”) We see him but once in flashback, suited up from work and vegging out on the couch in front of the TV, ignoring his little girl's birth­day request, still wearing his wedding ring. He knows only work and dies at 63 when he retires. He resembles the sales­man that business writer George Kahn describes as: Being a Two-Dimensional Man.

There is the mistake of being a “lopsided” man, a two-dimensional individual who never develops his true potential for living. He is not a whole man. His two activities are working and sustaining life. As a person, he is fast beating a path to mediocrity.

You have seen this man. He has never achieved a proper balance among work, play, love, and spiritual values. He has never gotten beyond his own narrow enclosure, even to the extent of tasting a new dish. A suggestion that he develop an avocation draws only a blank stare. He is a fractional man. (18–21)

Stanley ends up like the man king Solomon described, (Eccl. 2:17-19) “Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.”

He's a good worker, we'll give him that, and he'll leave it all to Lisa his only living relative, but who knows how she'll turn out, wise or foolish? We can get an inkling by looking at her friend Kim. She works for an outreach program building children's self-esteem (“I warp young minds.”) Her claim to fame is casting a girl who is “not quite pretty” as Sleeping Beauty in a play. At Christmas time she runs Sleeping Beauty by again, contrary to a popular expectation described in an Edward Abbey novel:

She was a trim little WASP—white-Anglo-sexy-Protestant—not a perfect beauty, a bit thick in the thigh and short in the leg, but more or less the type the whole world adores. Thanks to our planetary communi­cations system, magazines, movies, TV, video­cassettes. Blond hair, rosy skin, slender figure—why is it that men every­where from Fair­banks to Tierra del Fuego, from Oslo to Cape­town, from London to Calcutta, yearn to clutch this creature in their arms? Two and a half billion men on the planet—and every one, apparently, prefers a blonde. Including me. Why?

Who knows? Envy of the power and prestige of Europe and America? Some strange racial longing for the glow of the golden North, a hidden evolutionary drive toward this particular arche­type? … But who can doubt it? Artificial female blondes swarm the streets of every nation—but where can you find girls naturally fair dying their tresses black, wearing brown contact lenses, trying to widen their hips or shorten their legs?

It's not fair. Life is unfair and it's not fair that life is unfair. Is there no justice in the world? And no mercy neither? No wonder they hate us—and hate us so much—down there in the lower hemisphere. (14)

In Kim's play the sleeping Princess Amelia (Desire Casado) is Latina and she is awakened with a cheek kiss by an uppity picka­ninny prince (Aldis Hodge.) Beauty is a burden, but I think the audience will forgive the production for not giving a young pretty some early practice carrying it. I don't think Stanley would be concerned one way or the other as he's no longer in the market for beauties, and he's not a perv or else the court wouldn't have given him custody. It's just a children's play. The presaging of miscegenation, how­ever, might be a different matter. The song “Society's Child” comes to mind. Fact is I grew up in Pittsburgh, and when my sister eloped with a Negro, the stuff hit the fan.

Stanley (1932–1995) would have been fresh in the mobile labor force when from Pittsburgh it's a short hop to Virginia and the South where segregation was the order of the day, and he's not the kind of guy to get wrapped up in causes for liberation or for any­thing else. He'd have kept his nose to the grind­stone minding his own business, (Eccl. 2:20-21) “Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun. For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.” His “labour in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity” would easily have accommodated Geoffrey Wagner's character circa 1957:

The American shrugged. “At least discrimination's recognition. The American Negro has a place in the social structure, is the subject of legislation. Our Negro may, and does suffer gross injustice, but he has the machinery, the constitutional machinery, to work towards an egalitarian society. There are laws. Sometimes flouted, but by and large adhered to. Gradually he'll improve his status.” (130)

Martin Luther King
Jr.Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) in his Letter From Birmingham Jail penned a litany of complaints, rejected the counsel of “gradualism,” and touted “the fierce urgency of NOW.” He ends his letter with an apology: “If I have said any­thing in this letter that is an over­state­ment of the truth and is indicative of an unreason­able impatience, I beg you to forgive me.” Let's not hold it against him as he was caught up in the fever of his times. Robert H. Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah (238) writes:

[Researchers] Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer … quote Charles Murray: “There's hardly a single outcome—black voting rights, access to public accommodation, employment, particularly in white collar jobs—that couldn't have been predicted on the basis of pre-1964 trend lines.” “That's pretty devastating,” the authors say. “It suggests that we have spent trillions of dollars to create an out­come that would have happened even if the govern­ment had done nothing.”

integrated poolNegroes had a struggle to achieve integration in America although they did better in the military that was primarily interested in results. Women, how­ever, were not oppressed so much as settled into traditional roles, although they've had trouble with unwanted attention and/or pregnancies in the military. Eminently respected business writer Peter F. Drucker states:

Throughout man's history, and above all, among primitive peoples, work groups have always been sexually differentiated. Men work together and women work together. But we rarely hear, either in history or in cultural anthro­pology, of work groups of mixed sex. Men hunt and women tend the village. Men build boats and women grow yams. In Europe women have tradition­ally milked cows, in America men; but on neither side of the Atlantic has milking been done by sexually mixed groups. (188)
Respected scholar George Gilder asks,
Who would have anticipated that it would be liberal Republicans in the Nixon Administration who would fulfill the cynical dream of Judge Smith when he added the words “or sex” to the bitterly won civil rights laws of the sixties. Smith thought that the thicket of sex discrim­ination would ultimately confound and dis­credit all the anti­discrim­in­ation efforts of government—in fact all the highest egalitarian impulses of liberalism. And he may have been right. (96)

Lisa's boss hovers over her and has helped her achieve a success that will eventually put her in conflict with Lewis should they ever wed and he return to his previous financial career but with a salary smaller than hers. She also seems to have trouble with the birds and the bees. Her rationale for not immediately accepting Lewis's proposal includes, “If I had a child, I have no idea what I'd do with one,” forgetting that she is potentially making one with Lewis in the sack now anyway. On the good side Lewis is just the ticket to expand her horizons should she get hitched to him, so she won't end up a two- dimensional creature like Stanley. Stanley's sorry life has driven him to drink being even unsure of his legacy's prospects, (Eccl. 2:22-23) “For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.”

Production Values

” (1996) was written and directed by Michael Goldenberg. It stars Christian Slater, Mary Stuart Masterson and Pamela Adlon. The acting was all good, though it wouldn't rise to the level of deserving prizes. The characters are too unusual to grab our sympathy.

MPAA rated it PG for mild language and thematic elements. It was filmed in New York City, New York, USA on a limited number of sets. The cast holds their own, and the script, costumes, sets and production values are sound. Runtime is 1½ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I think dramas are better set in a traditional milieu of some kind. This one deals with modern life that I'd like to escape from in the movies. Some people will like it.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: No action, slow adventure. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture was cited from the King James Version, Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Abbey, Edward. The Fool's Progress. Copyright © 1988 by Edward Abbey. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1988. Print.

Bork, Robert H. Slouching Towards Gomorrah. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.

Drucker, Peter F. Management. London: Heinemann, 1974. Print.

Gilder, George F. Sexual Suicide. New York: Quadrangle, 1973. Print.

Kahn, George. The 36 Biggest Mistakes Salesmen Make and How to Correct Them. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Print.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail. 1963. Print.

Wagner, Geoffrey. Rage on the Bar. Copyright © 1957 by Geoffrey Wagner. New York: The Noonday Press, Inc., 1957. Print.