"Table for Five" is more of a groaning board: It wrings tears and stirs laughter, but its plot boils over from too many cooks.
David Seltzer's melodrama about a divorced dad has not just been rewritten, it's been overwritten to reflect star Jon Voight's personality as well as the experiences of the divorced producer, director and leading man. "We hung a lot more dramatic meat on the bones of the story," said one. They sure could have used a good butcher.
And Voight bit off more than he could chew. He's like a lump in some scenes and lugubrious in others, though sometimes he's affable. He plays J.P. Tannen, a retired golf pro who's trying for the green in the real- estate game. Tannen still loves his ex-wife (Millie Perkins) and three kids, but she's remarried and he's irresponsible. New husband (Richard Crenna), a perfect stepfather, is earning the children's love. After neglecting his family for years, Tannen tries to win them back on a luxury cruise.
Here Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond goes berserk, taking long, leisurely shots of the luxury liner, port to starboard, stem to stern, keel to smokestacks. On board, at last, child actors Roxana Zal and Robby Kiger succeed in some heart-warming. Their exchanges on the trials of tight pants and yeast infections are delightful. They have a sweet rapport, but their adopted brother (Son Hoang Bui) doesn't fit in. He's a script by-blow, an obvious amateur. His costars seem to cringe whenever he's on screen.
"Table for Five" can be cathartic for those who'd like a good cry and don't mind being manipulated. Hey, wasn't that Jonathan Livingston Seagull that just flew over? TABLE FOR FIVE -- At area theaters.