The Apartment is one of those films where it’s hard to guess the plot from the title. It could really go in just about any direction. Well, this one plays out as a retro comedy with the main character getting pushed around by everyone. It reminds you why apartments are so handy and why they can ultimately backfire at times as well. It’s a film that has aged pretty well even if the main characters probably will get on your nerves the more the film goes on.
The film starts off with Bud going another light with low sleep. At first you may sympathize with him but then you realize that the lead has a side gig of questionable ethics going. He loans his apartment out to his co-workers so they can use it for parties. Not particularly smart of him and the characters quickly take advantage of his offer. They stay later then they are supposed to and put him in a bad spot. Still, Bud does get the promotion so it’s all good. The problem now is the fact that he likes the employee who is already with his boss. How can he get her to change her mind?
This is one of those romance films where the characters are going to flip flop quite a lot. Let’s take Fran who is the main heroine here. She is with Sheldrake initially but then she leaves him since the guy is already married and seems to be using her. That’s fine, but then she entertains his offer of returning to being together again even though he’s still married. Bud also asks her out and she accepts but that already means that he is simply the rebound guy. She plays the field for a while and along the way attempts to destroy herself while still not falling away from Sheldrake. When the expected ending finally arrives it doesn’t feel very sincere.
I have to say that the romance in general gets a thumbs down. It’s just not all that engaging and holds the rest of the film back a bit. I also can’t say that I was a big fan of Fran. She was reasonable for a while with her reputation of being a solo act, but then the twists start coming and her character is ruined. It’s fine that she found someone, but choosing someone who is married does not help her case. Even if he was sincere she is getting him to cheat on his wife. It’s a lose-lose situation all around.
Of course you can’t really like Sheldrake as the guy is pretty manipulative. He’s a fun villain for sure as he pushes Bud around, but he’s not a particularly nice guy. He’s one of those “allies” who has your back while it’s convenient for him and then he’ll ditch you at the next corner. All 4 of the bosses were like that once Bud stopped giving them extra favors. Bud certainly should have known what would happen though as they were only his friends because of the apartment.
As for Bud himself, he’s entertaining like the rest of the cast. That doesn’t make him particularly likable though. He shouldn’t let the group push him around the whole time. Starting the apartment deal was fine and all but without proper time boundaries it will just cave in on itself. Sure enough, he just kept on digging himself in deeper and deeper holes. Bud could be slow on the uptake as well. He’s a nice guy through it all of course, but he needs to be a little more prepared than how he was in this film.
This also sums up the movie pretty well. While I can’t say that I really liked any of the characters, the film was still a lot of fun. It’s the kind of movie where the characters don’t have to be that good. Comedies can still be enjoyable because the jokes aren’t necessarily ties to the character’s status. A bad character can still have good comedic traits. I’d say that the writers did a very good job with this movie. Nobody feels exaggerated or super unrealistic. To an extent what happens in this film could easily happen in real life. Just take out a few of the dramatic elements and you’re all set.
The cast is pretty small, but we have a few supporting characters like the doctor next door who really came in handy during the climax. Without him it’s safe to say that the heroes wouldn’t have done very well. The slapping could definitely seem pretty crazy but it’s in a lot of these old films so I guess people used to think that it really worked. Pain is certainly a strong stimulus to I suppose to prevent someone from fainting it seems to make sense…even if it was a little excessive.
One trend that I’ve noticed with romance films as well as comedy ones is that they tend to have a better first half than the rest of the film. It’s because for the climax the film inevitably has to get a little serious. The degree to which this is notable will vary of course and some films like Airplane manage to almost completely sidestep this. This film is no exception as it starts to become a little more serious by the end. Not a bad thing per say, but with unlikable characters and no humor then you don’t have the best combo. Bud didn’t seem to handle most of the situations in the climax well as all and I’d say the same for Fran. These characters don’t think their options through enough so by the end both characters are basically settling for each other. Bud was totally ready to get together with someone else before Fran showed up in the second half. I think that says all that you need to know about how serious they were.
Overall, The Apartment is a lot of fun. Prepare yourself for a comedy-romance film where the only way for Bud to rise up the ranks is to give out favors to his superiors. The realism of this will really hit you hard and the film’s humorous ways of showing this are solid. While the romance may not have been very inspired it’s not as if it would make this a bad movie. It’s a good movie that falters a bit during the second half but ends up being one that I would recommend regardless. Especially if you consider this to be a romance film it is one of the few titles that I would recommend presently.