The shop names of Gucci and Hermes flash past as Lily Tomlin walks into the opening of "Moment by Moment." She carries a Gucci wallet, drives a Mercedes-Benz, reads Architectural Digest and drapes her beach house with Georges V Hotel towels. A young man, John Travolta, keeps running after her, all the way out of the shopping district to the beach, displaying his chest and trying to pick her up.
Is there a hope that she really means it when she says, for the first five minutes, that she's happier alone? No, there is not. She owns all the other staples of California luxury life: why should she have any sales resistance to the new Le Must, a young male body?
And so it goes. Massaging each other's wee little egos and whatever, they have, for this entire movie and an ending promising more, a Meaningful Relationship. That's what they call it. "When you're ready to commit yourself to a meaningful relationship with me, it can be very beautiful," he tells her.
Could such a movie have been written about a rich middle-aged man and a young street girl falling into true love? Not without a great deal of cynical humor to apologize for the obvious trade-off of money for youth. Would any audience sympathize with the emotional possibilities when a young girl displaying her chest chases an older man whose Mercedes she admires? And yet it is the intention of this film - shot in sandy beach colors suggesting that bathing suits create a classless society - that these two people finding each other is a stupendous event equalizing all other factors.
And what two people they are. John Travolta, without his muisc, and Lily Tomlin, without her comedy, are evenly matched - two narrow-eyed faces with V-shaped smiles, hers with too much gum, his with too many teeth. There is never any conversation between them except of reassurance: "You're special." "You need something to mellow out, you're so uptight." "I want to talk some more with you." "You can do anything you want."
But with no intention of pathos or satire, the film presents a world in which these perfunctory pattings pass for love.
And the capping dishonesty comes when the lady's estranged husband, his neck throbbing with indignation under his gold necklace, says that she has disgraced them both by bringing her beach boy to an art gallery opening in the city.
How passe can you get? Hasn't he heard that a sullen boy in an open silk shirt (paid for by her) is exactly the accessory for a woman in their crowd this year?
MOMENT BY MOMENT - AMC Carrollton, AMC Skyline, Aspen Hill, Jenifer, Springfield Mall and Tysons Cinema.