Director: Jerry Belson   
Sally Field, Michael Caine, Steve Guttenberg

In a previous review, I started by talking about events in your life that live with you forever. I brought up several examples of such events that had happened in my life. Those examples that I brought up were events that I think everyone has shared, such as driving a car for the first time. Events like that are pretty standard for most people. In fact, you learn early on in your life before events like this happen that they will be big things for you when they happen. I do, however, have some key events in my life that I am pretty sure that few, if any, people have had, moments when a certain light went on in my mind and gave me the idea that there was an extra bit of knowledge in the world to be obtained. Events that forever changed my personal perspective on things, and solidified my reputation as a unique individual. One of those times was when, in my teens in the 1980s, I learned about the film company The Cannon Group, as well as its company heads Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. I honestly don't know how I was out of knowledge of Cannon and Golan/Globus for so long, because as a youth I rented a lot of exploitation movies, which Cannon and Golan/Globus were most famous for at that time. Anyway, there was one day when I recognized that Cannon and Golan/Globus were names that somehow seemed familiar to me. I did some research, and discovered that I had rented and seen a whole bunch of movies from them. The results of my research intrigued and excited me. There was actually a company that not only made schlocky films, but a whole bunch of them each year?

From that moment on, I was hooked. I wanted to learn more about not only The Cannon Group, but about those crazy two individuals who ran the company. I didn't know what Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus looked like, so one of the first things I did was to write a letter to Golan. In the letter, I gushed about his producing and directing talents, and politely asked him to send me an autographed picture of himself and his cousin. Several weeks later in the mail I got an envelope from Golan, which contained an autographed picture of himself. (You can see a scan of it in my review of The Apple.) My hunger for all things considered Cannon did not end there. I was so desperate to find out new information, I would ask anyone if they knew anything. I remember one day asking my dad, "Dad, have you heard of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus?" To my surprise, he had; as an opera fan, he had seen the opera movie Otello and had remembered they had produced it. Not only was I obsessed with finding more information on Cannon and Golan/Globus, I was also as equally determined to spread the word. My family members were the first to receive my teachings on those subjects. When my parents brought home from the video store the arty Cannon drama Haunted Summer, and I told them I wanted to watch it, they said I wanted to do that so I could "laugh and sneer" at it. (Actually, I found it a competent piece of work.) I also educated my best friend in high school about Cannon. I remember that he, as a Stallone fan, refused to believe that Cobra was a Cannon movie. I also remember his dismay when we sat down to watch it and the credits told him otherwise.

When I got to university, I made a discovery there that not only gave me new information about Cannon and Golan/Globus, but also helped shape me to become the movie critic that I became. One day, while exploring the basement of the campus library, I wandered into the microfilm section. I discovered that among the various periodicals the library had past issues on microfilm, that they had past issues of the Hollywood trade paper Variety. I started reading past issues of Variety, and learned more about Cannon that I had learned at that point. I read Cannon's trade ads and learned about the ways they would entice theater owners to book their product. I learned about how some of their movies were originally intended (Chuck Norris was originally going to be in American Ninja.) I learned about projects that were announced but never made (Godzilla Vs. Cleveland was a famous example.) Most of all, I learned how Golan and Globus ran Cannon and what their vision for the company was. It was a sometimes strange vision, and even today I have some questions about it. For example, they often had a schizophrenic way of choosing what projects to fund. Even if you are not a Cannon fanatic like I am, you probably know they made a ton of schlocky action films. But at the same time, they funded a lot of serious marginal art movies, like Shy People and Fool For Love. Another odd thing was that even though horror was hot in Hollywood for most of the 1980s, Cannon made very few horror movies.

Another genre that Cannon didn't make many stabs towards (though somewhat more than with their attempts at horror) was the comedy genre. Taking a look at them, you'll find something common with almost all of them. Among them include Making The Grade, The Last American Virgin, Hot Resort, and Hot Chili. In other words, comedies that were aimed at the youth market. Surrender, the movie being reviewed here, is a rarity among Cannon films because not only is it one of Cannon's rare comedies, it's a comedy that's aimed at a more adult audience, which was probably obvious to you from the fact that it has Michael Caine and Sally Field in the cast. Caine plays Los Angeles novelist Sean Stein, who has had a string of successful novels. However, much of his fortune has been taken away by alimony and palimony payments to all of his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends. As a result, he has sworn off women. But through some crazy circumstances, he meets struggling artist Daisy (Field), who has just split from her yuppie boyfriend Marty (Guttenberg). He's attracted to her, and decides to pursue a relationship with her. But he decides to masquerade as a poor and unsuccessful writer so he can find out if Daisy will love him for himself and not for his fortune. I think I know what you are thinking at this point. You are thinking that Sean and Daisy will keep their relationship until the last ten or so minutes, when they break up for some reason, maybe because of Sean's secret coming out at that point. But a few minutes later, they will get back together for a happy ending and a freeze-frame embrace as the credits roll.

That's how it usually goes with romantic comedies that concern themselves with secrets. But that's not what happens with Surrender. When the break-up and secret come out, they comes out with about a half hour of the movie to go before the end. This sudden development does two things to the movie. First, it makes the situation in this movie feel less like one you probably have seen before. Second, it forces the movie to add more plot and twists to what has been set up previously. Of course, this doesn't automatically mean that the movie is better; it could mean death if this extra material is labored and unfunny. But the movie's writer/director, Jerry Belson (who earlier wrote the screenplay for the hilarious Evil Roy Slade), comes up with some very good ideas. His Sean and Daisy characters may have been able to deal with the various deceptions up to this point, but it's not going to be easy from this point on. Sean's lawyer friend Jay (played by Peter Boyle) introduces the idea of a prenuptial agreement just before Sean and Daisy leave town to get married, and Sean finds himself bringing up this subject to Daisy. You probably think you know what Daisy's reaction to this is - but you'd be wrong. Daisy's reaction is unexpected and her subsequent actions bring some genuine laughs. To complicate things further, not only does Daisy's ex-boyfriend reenters the scene wanting her back, but a stroke of good luck happens to Daisy that while it helps fulfill one of her needs, threatens to destroy her relationship with Sean. All the characters are forced to deal with all of these and other changes with some hilarious consequences.

It's not just the last half hour of the movie that has some funny and unexpected moments. The first hour of the movie has its share of hilarity as well. I will admit that the first few minutes of the movie (showing us Sean's past unsuccessful relationships with women) are pretty bad, being both unfunny and somewhat clichéd. But fortunately, the movie gets better from that point and starts delivering the laughs. The humor in this movie isn't rat-tat-tat fast-paced like in Belson's Evil Roy Slade, but instead goes for a sense of humor that is generally more human and natural-feeling. For example, Sean and Daisy's first meeting, when they are forced together (I won't say how), has them both struggling to gain control for different (and selfish) reasons to humorous effect. Their later meetings may not be as funny as that one, but they will put a smile on your face. You will understand and relate to Sean's deception as he woos Daisy, and you will equally understand Daisy's desires and decisions; you'll want these two to get together. A big reason for this is the performances by the two leads. Caine and Field know they are in a comedy, but they don't overdo it. They keep calm for the most part and act like people you'd like to know. Their charm and the movie's humor makes up for Guttenberg. Not only does he sport one of the worst mustaches I've ever seen, but he hideously overacts his broadly comic role - he and his role seem to come from a completely different movie. At least he's not there for most of the running time. But overall, Surrender will win you over with a number of chuckles and some laugh-out-loud scenes. Who knew Golan/Globus could be so mature about a comedy?

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See also: Evil Roy Slade, Hot Chili, Hot Resort