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Life on the Edge Reviews

LIFE ON THE EDGE finds a group of varied Los Angeles residents stranded at a party by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks, prompting them to review their lives or to pursue personal pleasures with comic results. Ray Nelson (Jeff Perry) has good reason to examine his life, even before the seismograph needles start quivering. Nelson, a real estate promoter, is being threatened by two thugs for the repayment of a $100 thousand loan. Unfortunately for Nelson, his great hopes for profits from a development, Point Andreas, have failed, prompting him to attempt to forge his wife's signature on a legal document. For her part, Karen (Jennifer Holmes) doesn't seem too concerned over Ray's plight and rushes off to a neighbor's party just as the two loan collectors arrive to remind Ray of his debt. That neighbor is Dr. Roger Hardy (Andrew Prine), a plastic surgeon whose voluptuous wife, Joanie (Greta Blackburn), is an example of his skills, enticing the stray males at the party into the pantry. Among the guests are Suzi (Jennifer Edwards), a mystic, and Walter (Ralph Bruneau), an engineer who uses his skills to design bungee equipment for her "skywalking" exercises. There are also two door-to-door missionaries, Tim and Terry (Ken Stoddard and Michael Tulin), who try to convert the guests at the party they have inadvertently crashed. Some of these folks have more important things on their minds: Tovah Torrance (Kat Sawyer-Young) angrily watches her rival on the local news in between screenings of a performance tape by Mandy (Liz Sagal) and the occasional feminist outbursts of a pregnant psychologist, Dr. Carla Donahue (Susan Powell); Shelli Summers (Denny Dillon) is torn between boasting of her years on diet plans and attacking the hors d'oeuvres, while Linda James (Martine Beswicke) retires to the bathroom to snort cocaine. Galvanizing these characters and literally knocking out the television news reports about fighting in the Middle East is an 8.3 earthquake that only damages the Hardy residence but completely destroys Ray Nelson's home. He goes to tell his wife the bad news when she calmly announces her desire for a divorce and the fact that she has had a six-month affair with Roger Hardy. Bewildered, Ray groggily volunteers to accompany Truman Brown (Thalmus Rasulala) when the former actor and current earthquake insurance salesman goes for help. Along the way, Truman discloses that he and Roger are members of a survivalist group, part of whose holdings include $100 thousand in gold. Reconsidering the search for help, Ray returns on the sly to hunt through Roger's house for the cache of loot. Sneaking from room to room, Ray discovers that the newscaster and performance artist are having an affair, while the dieter has camped out in front of the well-stocked refrigerator and one of the Bible thumpers has turned out to be a repressed homosexual. Ray is not alone in his quest; a suitably equipped Walter has discovered the bomb shelter in the basement but, fortunately for Ray, knocked himself unconscious when he triggered the opening mechanism. Ray easily spots the cigar box full of gold coins amid the canned foods, just as a sexually ravenous Joanie discovers him. Unfortunately for Ray, a resourceful and rugged Roger has survived a car crash and, recognizing that the real estate promoter has violated both his wife and money, comes after him with a gun. An aftershock saves Ray, but he still has the pair of thugs to evade. Reconciled with Karen after his fight with Roger, Ray remembers the well-furnished bomb shelter just as the two hoods arrive looking for him. It serves not only as a good hiding place, but as the perfect sanctuary as the conflict in the Middle East spreads. Amusing if predictable, Andrew Yates's LIFE ON THE EDGE does not expand beyond the limits of TV soap opera except for the use of explicit sex and suggestive language. While Jeff Perry is fine as the slightly bewildered, failed yuppie, the other performers seem too restricted, afraid to take their eccentric characters seriously. Yates and screenwriter Mark Edens would have better served their original premise if they had stretched the comic situation and performers to the limit. (Sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)