Contributing greatly to the blithe, high-rolling mischief… of “Rosalie Goes Shopping”
are songs by Bob Telson, one of them a prayer imploring the Lord to “turn my debts
into debts of gratitude”. In a more sharply satirical film this might be overkill,
but here it’s light as air. (Janet Maslin, NEW YORK TIMES, 2/23/90)
Rosalie Goes Shopping is a farce about a family gone loony over Life on the Installment
Plan. You’d expect a satire on this subject, but instead it puts us in a sunny little
trance, buoyed up by the bubbly syncopations of Bob Telson’s musical score, cased
by the playful pastel colors, soothed by its charming nuttiness. (Michael Wilmington,
L.A. TIMES, 3/2/90)
LOS ANGELES TIMES, March 2, 1990
Adlon’s ‘Rosalie’ shops until she drops
By Michael Wilmington
When Rosalie Greenspace goes shopping in ROSALIE GOES SHOPING... a beatific smile
covers her face and her grand torso goes golden. Rosalie -- latest creation of the
classy team of director Percy Adlon and actress Marianne Sägebrecht -- is an ex-Bavarian
postwar bride, living with a huge brood in Stuttgart, Ark. She’s also an émigré addicted
to credit, a terrific comic obsessive. Around her, Adlon weaves a movie full of candied
visions, steely satiric truths.
For Rosalie, shopping may be better than sex or love. When she skips it, she feels
she’s committed a sin, one more thing to confess to the weedy local priest (Judge
Reinhold) at the Sacred Heart of the Prairie Church. But this golly-gee father is
more concerned about her other crimes: the bank finaglings and bounced checks by
which she keeps her husband -- crop-dusting pilot Ray (Brad Davis) -- and her family
in precarious comfort.
Adlon’s ROSALIE GOES SHOPING is a farce about a family gone loony over ‘Life on the
Installment Plan’. You’d expect a satire on this subject to have the ferocity of
WAR OF THE ROSES or RAISING ARIZONA. But, instead, it puts us in a sunny little trance,
buoyed up by the bubbly syncopation’s of Bob Telson’s musical score, cased by the
playful paste colors, soothed by its charming nuttiness. When Adlon shows the Greenspaces
watching tapes of their favorite TV commercials, happily reciting the “sell” lines
in chorus, he doesn’t savage them. He seems delighted by their boundless, sweet idiocy.
ROSALIE might have been a modern version of YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, but there’s
a catch: The Greenspaces probably do want to take it with them. They’re obsessive
materialists. They’re also Rosalie’s darlings, with gooey pet names like Schatzi
and Schnucki. They call their demented dad “Liebling”.
The main family obsession replicates the craziness of modern society. Rosalie --
juggling 37 credit cards, loans and mortgages with fiendish cunning, altering checks,
rifling her son’s bank account -- insists she’s only doing what the government and
banks want her to. It’s her equanimity in the face of escalating crises that makes
her attractive. “Capital that isn’t being used is a dead duck, she tells her flabbergasted
father confessor, and, for the next hour, duck honks resound on the sound track,
mingling with Telson’s puckish country-Western anthem “Lord, Won’t You Give Me Just
a Little More Credit?”
Adlon has a bizarrely off-center comic sense and, just as in his two previous Sägebrecht
films, he uses color to key his world. SUGARBABY was bathed in hot pinks, BAGDAD
CAFE” in desert golds and yellows. Here, Adlon uses blues for the Greenspaces clothes,
the Stuttgart silos and hangars, even the Little Rock bank that holds the key to
the Greenspaces’ fate. Sometimes it seems nearly everything is blue but the sky,
which Adlon, occasionally, puckishly covers with orange and red filters.
ROSALIE doesn’t have the luminous pop perfection of Adlon’s surprise hit, BAGDAD
CAFE. The dialogue -- Americanized by Christopher Doherty from Adlon and wife Eleonore’s
script -- doesn’t play as well this time, coming from middle-class climbers instead
of BAGDAD’s desert eccentrics. But Adlon again works wonders with his idiosyncratic
At the center of the delightful ensemble is the super-saftig Sägebrecht. And, though
she may be a nightmare movie idol for a diet-crazy nation, she’s a towering camera
subject. The others are mostly wonderful as well: Davis, Reinhold, Courtney Kraus,
Alex Winter, Patricia Zehentmayr - and especially Erika Blumberger and Willy Harlander
as Rosalie’s parents.
There’s a real stinger inside ROSALIE GOES SHOPPING (rated PG, despite some implied
sex) and the audiences in a country that has, in less than a decade, gone from the
world’s greatest creditor nation to its greatest debtor, would do well to heed it.
ROSALIE suggests that credit-crazed America is on a manic-depressive binge: soaring
when the goodies arrive, crashing when the bill falls due. But Adlon doesn’t force
the point. His gentle, easy texture soaks up the acid under-currents.
Adlon isn’t trying to punch the audience into a state of awareness. He wants us to
achieve awareness, as Rosalie achieves her shopping raptures. In this oddball mix
of bliss and pragmatism, true-blue Americanism and Teutonic sentimentality, the movie
keeps a giddy balance, like a comic gyroscope perched on a sunbeam. The opera ain’t
over until the fat lady sings -- and, in this case, Adlon and his mountainous, magnificent
diva, Sägebrecht, give us a sumptuous last comic aria.