Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Sandbox" is scratchy, but Barbra triumphs

Cleveland Press January 25, 1973

"Up the Sandbox" is a lesser movie than most of the pictures Barbra Streisand has made.

But it is a greater personal triumph.

Less strident. more inventive, she constantly surpasses her material.,does more with it than any other actress possibly could.

IF DEEP WITHIN Miss Streisand there is a clown yearning to be free, then that clown more clearly emerges in this movie.

The picture is about a housewife-mother tied to her Manhattan apartment but who longs for other pursuits.

She is a female Walter Mitty and in her flights of fancy she debates Castro, joins a group of black militants blowing up the Statue of Liberty and is involved in tribal ceremonies in Africa.

She also battles her overbearing mother, but again only in her imagination.

PULITZER PRIZE playwright Paul Zindel adapted Anne Richardson's short novel and he improves on it in pulling it together and providing humorous dialog.

In spite of Miss Streisand and Zindel the movie seldom amounts to more than a disjointed effort, a series of episodes with awkward transitions, fantasies that don't always take flight the way they should. This may be because of director Irvin Kershner, who has handled his material as though it were all of equal value.

In a movie that is a blend of fantasy and reality there is something wrong when the reality plays better than the fantasy. That is what happens in "Up the Sandbox" and it is the picture's failing.

MISSING IS THE feel of madness, of zaniness in those sequences that should have been just slightly insane.

The entire picture lacks the comic drive that it promises but never delivers.

When stuck for material it falls back on cliches -- the husband attempting to make breakfast for his pregnant wife, burning the toast and turning out scrambled eggs that are leather.

What the picture might have been is indicated in a party sequence, a home movie photographer aiming his lights at people, the entire scene shot as though by an amateur. And in the heroine's lapse into imagination she battles her mother, pushing her face into a cake and wrestling her to the floor.