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How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980)

PG | | Comedy, Crime | 11 July 1980 (USA)
Oregon, 1980: Jane, Elaine and Louise are all feeling the effects of inflation and cannot afford, as the title states, the high cost of living. Jane cannot afford a babysitter or get ... See full summary »

Director:

Robert Scheerer

Writers:

Robert Kaufman (screenplay), Leonora Thuna (story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Susan Saint James ... Jane
Jane Curtin ... Elaine
Jessica Lange ... Louise
Richard Benjamin ... Albert
Eddie Albert ... Max
Cathryn Damon ... Natalie
Dabney Coleman ... Jack Heintzel
Fred Willard ... Robert
Art Metrano ... Gas Station Attendant
Ronnie Schell ... Bill Pike
Michael Bell ... Tom
Sybil Danning ... Charlotte
Al Checco Al Checco ... Tim Lundy
Susan Tolsky Susan Tolsky ... Patty
Garrett Morris ... Power & Light Man
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Storyline

Oregon, 1980: Jane, Elaine and Louise are all feeling the effects of inflation and cannot afford, as the title states, the high cost of living. Jane cannot afford a babysitter or get married and if she wants privacy with her boyfriend, she has to sleep in the car. Even worse, her war veteran father comes to live with her to turn her life upside down. Louise lives a happy life with her veterinarian husband, Albert. She runs an antique shop on the side, but since it doesn't take in any profit, the IRS considers it a hobby. She needs to come up with the money to keep it going, or she will be trouble with the IRS. Elaine's husband has left her for another woman and without any money. She is in a constant struggle with banks, power companies, and gas stations. She needs money to get by and also catches the eye of police officer Jack. The local mall is having a contest that features a giant money ball that states it will help fight the inflation. Elaine comes up with a plan to steal the ... Written by Pat McCurry

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A new comedy for everyone who ever wanted to do to the System what the System's been doing to them. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 July 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

How to Beat the High Cost of Living See more »

Filming Locations:

Eugene, Oregon, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$7,500,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Valley River Center, where the film's "mall scenes" are set, is indeed a thriving part of Eugene, OR, culture. However, the story is set during the commemoration of the "first anniversary of the Valley River Center." In actuality though, the Valley River Center had already been open for ten years as of the filming of this movie. See more »

Goofs

Jane claims to be familiar with paddling a canoe yet she sits in the wrong end when she begins to paddle it away while stealing it. See more »

Quotes

Louise: Oh, I don't know, there's got to be some way we can make money.
Elaine: We can make porno films and all wear ski masks.
Jane: No, Robert and I got bombed out one night. We put a little "I love you" tattoo on my ankle.
Elaine: [to Jane] Ok, we'll wear masks, you wear socks.
Louise: Come on, let's get out of here.
Elaine: What do you think about a doggy bag for the butter?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Video versions edit a scene where Jessica Lange's character is hiding in the shoe store bathroom while one of the stage show performers comes in and uses it. It cuts off just as she notices the footsteps. The scene is most likely eliminated because the guy was singing and the song might be copyrighted. See more »

Connections

References The Bad News Bears (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Serviceable "Sunday afternoon" fare
16 May 2010 | by ta_naemhniSee all my reviews

Three middle-class women, all of whom are struggling financially for various reasons, decide to solve their problems by knocking over a fund-raising event at the local shopping mall. They "psych themselves up" by committing some small stickups and so forth at first, then they put the big plan in place -- and, of course, when the big day arrives, everything goes awry. Moderately entertaining, though not particularly noteworthy apart from some interesting casting notes, such as Dabney Coleman as an unassuming nice guy (something you don't see very often), Jessica Lange in a comedic role (ditto) and Jane Curtin in her first feature film, working alongside Susan Saint James, a partnership that would later be reprised in the successful sitcom "Kate & Allie".

This is the kind of film that, if you're of a particular age, you probably saw in grade school or junior high on cable TV when you were a kid, and now that it's popping up again on broadcast TV on a Sunday afternoon when you don't really have much else to do, you think to yourself, "Oh, hey, yeah, I remember that movie -- seeing that again might be kind of fun." And it is.

It's also quite watchable if you've never seen it before. Just don't expect to come away feeling as though your life has been changed, as it usually is with truly great comedies from that era (such as 1981's "Arthur").


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