Taking Off (film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Taking Off is a 1971 American comedy film, the first made in the United States by Czech director MiloŇ° Forman. It tells a story of an average couple in the suburbs of New York City who, when their teenage daughter runs away from home, link up with other parents of vanished children and learn something of youth culture.


Larry Tyne and his wife Lynn return home one evening to find that their teenage daughter Jeannie is not there. (Viewers know she is attending an audition, clips from which, with upcoming artistes like Carly Simon and Kathy Bates, recur throughout the film). The Tynes ring the Divitos, with whose daughter Jeannie is supposed to be, but the Divitos' daughter claims she doesn't know where Jeannie is. Enlisting their friends Tony and Margot, the two men search the neighbourhood bars while the women stay by the phone and gossip about sex. When the men return home drunk, Jeannie reappears, only to vanish again. Next day, Larry goes into the city to search for her. In the street he meets Ann Lockston, a parent who's also searching for a missing daughter, and Ann tells Larry about a self-help group for parents in their predicament.

The police from upstate call the Tynes to say their daughter's been arrested 300 miles away, for stealing. The two rush to see her, only to find that it is the Divitos' girl in custody, having given the police a false name. On the trip back home, they stop off at a hotel, where Ike & Tina Turner are performing. A drunk Lynn is followed back to their room by an amorous stranger, unaware that Larry is already asleep in the bed. After the stranger disappears, Lynn tries out some of the tips Margot had confided to her earlier.

Later, back in the city, Larry and Lynn attend a formal dinner for the self-help group. Afterwards, marijuana joints are handed round, and a young man named Schiavelli instructs the parents on how to smoke them. Happily high, Larry and Lynn take Ann and her husband Ben back to their home for more drinks and a game of strip poker. As the group gets more inebriated, a naked Larry jumps on top of the table to sing "Libiamo ne' lieti calici". At this point, Jeannie reappears and the guests hastily leave.

When Jeannie admits to having been with a boy, Larry suggests she brings him home for dinner soon. When he appears, he proves to be an intelligent and wealthy musician. However, he declines to play for them, upon which Larry entertains the four with "Stranger in Paradise".


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