If the desire to go back and "show" everyone who ever sneered at you should be suppressed, the urge to do this on film ought to be stamped on with both feet. "They may laugh at me now, but some day they'll be sorry" is a comfort to unhappy teen-agers, but it has a false premise. "They" will only laugh harder at you.
First we had the ludicrous "If Ever I See You Again," in which a man of much success and many necklaces harassed the girl who had jilted him in college, thus making it clear to us how sound her instinct had been. Now there's "Old Boyfriends," in which a woman whose marriage has failed hopes to mess up her school-day romances retroactively.
As written by Paul and Leonard Schrader, and played by Talia Shire, she makes as mean-spirited a heroine as one could find. She not only wants to get even with the boy who made a fool of her, but with the one who loved her. For the one who got out of her reach by dying, she transfer her revenge to the nearest survivor.
Perhaps her bitterness can be explained by the fact that she tries and fails to kill herself during the screen credits. She was obviously aiming at "When I'm dead, they'll all be sorry," and she didn't make it.
This unpleasant quest is rationalized as "finding out who I was then, so I can know who I am now," an unfortunate project in this case. But the old beaux find it bewitching, and one of them, who named an intervening daughter "Dylan," if that gives you an idea who he is, signs up for a whole other round.
There is one unintentionally redeeming scene in this film that ought to serve as a warning to anyone else planning to enter the genre. In one of the tracking-down episodes, a man goes to a plush detective agency with only the information that his old love had studied clinical psychology and now lives in Los Angeles. After signing the client up for $100 a day plus expenses, with a $250 minimum, the detective calls a clinical psychologists' professional organization in Los Angeles and hands the bewildered client her office and home telephone numbers.
That's the kind of thing that gets you laughed at just when you thought you had shown everyone. The moral seems to be that people who are busy finding themselves are not going to be alert enough to figure out how to find anybody else.
OLD BOYFRIENDS-AMC Carrollton, AMC, Skyline, Avalon 2, Beacon Mall, K-B Cerberus, McLean Cinema, Roth's Randolph.