Floating Away

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Floating Away

The mismatched-outsiders-on-the-road subgenre has been around since at least the advent of cinema, but it experienced a significant boom during the '70s, when rag-tag surrogate families consisting of eccentric outsiders traveling together seemed to outnumber actual nuclear families. But while films about outsider journeys aren't as plentiful as they once were, they've never really disappeared, as evidenced by Floating Away, a maudlin would-be tearjerker that unites four of the mid-1980s' brightest names for the first time. Blandly and impersonally directed by the increasingly awful John Badham—who, in his better days, made WarGames and Saturday Night FeverFloating Away stars Rosanna Arquette as a down-and-out alcoholic who loses her boyfriend, child, and self-respect in one fell swoop. Having nothing more to lose, Arquette teams up with a pair of quirky recovering alcoholics (Paul Hogan and Judge Reinhold, each taking a richly deserved break from their day jobs doing car commercials) for a cross-country exodus to find her daughter and, you know, herself. Adapted from a novel with an appropriately maudlin title (Sorrow Floats), Floating Away studiously follows the outsiders-on-the-road genre convention that all colorful characters its protagonists encounter must be either nice and quirky or quirky and evil. Almost all the ancillary characters are evil, and since Arquette's character is the only one not on the straight-and-narrow path, Floating Away sees fit to have her serve as the brunt of almost constant abuse, including, but not limited to, harassment, humiliation, and an attempted rape by a vaguely European fellow with newfangled ideas. Socially conservative in a creepy and misogynist way, Floating Away is about as much fun as an AA meeting. The illicit thrill of seeing '80s kiddie icon Hogan talk extensively about his "trouser snake" can only take you so far.