I took a look at the movie that welcomed me into the world. It was bad.
Walter Davis (Bruce Willis) is a salaryman who is constantly running behind and unlucky in love. When he finds out that he’ll need a date for a business dinner, he asks his brother, Ted (Phil Hartman), to set him up with someone, despite Ted’s terrible record with set-ups. Ted’s wife, Susie (Stephanie Faracy), sets Walter up with her cousin Nadia (Kim Basinger). The two seem to hit it off, but the night starts off awkwardly when they attend an H.R. Geiger art exhibit and are attacked by Nadia’s stalker ex-boyfriend David (John Larroquette). Walter takes Nadia to a private performance by guitarist Stanley Jordan and offers her alcohol. It turns out that Susie had warned Ted about Nadia’s drinking issues, but Ted hadn’t really conveyed it to Walter. When Nadia drinks, she instantly becomes a nonsensical, loud, and abrasive person.
The pair go to dinner at the same restaurant where Walter’s boss is having an important business dinner, and Nadia starts a fight with the wait staff that eventually involves Walter’s boss, the client, and the client’s wife. Walter gets fired as a result. When he tries to drive Nadia home to a party at a friends house, the pair are repeatedly attacked by David. Nadia has Walter drive to a bad neighborhood resulting in him being mugged and his car seats being stolen. When they finally end up at the party, Nadia has sobered up and Walter has had a mental breakdown, leading him to emulate Nadia’s earlier zany behavior. When David attacks them again, Walter pulls a gun on him and gets arrested.
David agrees to get Walter’s charges dropped in exchange for Nadia’s hand in marriage. She agrees and David meets with Walter’s judge, who happens to be David’s father (William Daniels), and gets the case dismissed. At the wedding, Walter sneaks a bunch of chocolates filled with alcohol into Nadia’s room. She gets drunk and dumps David at the altar, reuniting with Walter and getting married to him.
The prompt for day three was originally “a movie that came out the week you were born.” Unfortunately, this was the only major release the week I was born. Wanting to avoid this movie like the plague, I decided to expand it to the month I was born (which included Evil Dead II, Lethal Weapon, and Raising Arizona), but I would select it by random number generator. The generator picked this movie, which cost me $3 to rent. I think this proves that God hates me… although the cancer should probably have tipped me off.
This movie is astonishing because it seems like it’s going out of its way to ruin careers. This movie was directed by Blake Edwards, the guy who made Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Days of Wine and Roses, and the good Pink Panther movies. It was written by Dale Launer, the screenwriter who would go on to write Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, My Cousin Vinny, and Love Potion No. 9. The music was done by Henry Mancini, the multi-Oscar winner who did most of Edwards’s movies. It starred Bruce Willis in the middle of his run on Moonlighting, Kim Basinger coming fresh off her big break in 9 ½ Weeks, and John Larroquette in the middle of his run on Night Court. In other words, there was a ton of talent in this film, which makes it astonishing how abysmally unfunny and unpleasant this movie is.
To give you an idea of how much I hate this movie, no less than seven of my viewing notes are “is this still going?” The first one was only thirty minutes into this ninety minute film, when we got through the dinner that was supposed to be the crux of the whole set-up, only to find out that this was really just the start of act two. I should probably have guessed what I was in for when one of the opening jokes to the movie was a fake ad for the “James Brown Car Alarm” that went on for two damned minutes. It’s just a car alarm that shouts like James Brown, but that’s how this movie decides to prime us for the feast of gags it clearly thinks it’s going to lay before us. This movie had more points where it should have ended than Return of the King, but didn’t have the benefit of giving me 8 hours of enjoyment beforehand. It’s like they just kept coming up with short scene ideas, but couldn’t come up with any funny dialogue for those scenes.
Everything in this movie seems to be based on the humor of running gags, but the gags are mistimed and terrible. David just keeps showing up out of nowhere and attacking them, but always in an awkward way that ends with him humiliated. Because of this, at one point, John Larroquette crashes into two separate store fronts in less than 2 minutes. It was around the third attack that I realized that “running gag” is sometimes code for “didn’t have another original idea.”
The icing on this crap cake, though, is that none of the characters are likable. Walter goes from desperate to crazy and vengeful to obsessive, but at no point do I want him to be happy. Nadia and Walter have a fun meet cute moment, but once she starts drinking she’s not the “wacky” person, she’s an angry antagonist. Later, when Walter starts acting like her at her party, she starts to get indignant and act superior, despite the fact that she literally just got him fired earlier. David isn’t a fun antagonist because he literally just shows up and psychotically attacks them. Even though he’s revealed to be a high-powered attorney with a judge father, he should be in jail. Well, okay, maybe him being free makes sense, but still, he’s not a clever character.
Overall, there are a few moments of levity in the film, but mostly, it’s just a drag. If Die Hard hadn’t come out the next year and given Bruce Willis a new career as an action star, this might have wrecked him.
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