By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: Losers go road-trippin’
Homer (James Belushi) is a mentally challenged man suffering brain damage from being hit in the head by a baseball when he was a kid. He decides to go on a road trip to visit his sick father, but along the way he gets robbed and has to sleep in an abandoned car. It is there that he meets Eddie (Whoopi Goldberg) an embittered, volatile women who is supposedly suffering from a brain tumor. The two trek off in her car to Oregon to meet up with Homer’s parents and also try to track down the men who robbed him.
I was impressed with the acting range shown here by Goldberg. Usually she is so likable, but here she is quite edgy and does it in an effective way. I applaud her attempts to work outside of her comfort zone although her fits of anger make the viewer uncomfortable and her crying does not sound authentic.
Belushi is good in atypical role and for the most part he is the best thing about the movie. His lines are consistently amusing, but the film walks an uncomfortable line between making him a sympathetic character to also making fun of him. Despite the fact that these two already worked together in Jumpin’ Jack Flash the chemistry between them doesn’t work.
The supporting cast is interesting in cameo roles. Casting 70-year-old 200 pound Ernestine McClendon as a prostitute gets points simply for its novelty, but seeing her in her grossly oversized panties is a bit much. Karen Black as her pimp has such a small, meaningless role that I was surprised that she even took it. Nancy Parsons has an interesting part as a cold and aloof woman who becomes sympathetic, which is a rarity for her. Director John Waters appears briefly as a robber and I kind of got a kick out of Don Hanmer as a very nervous cashier. Belushi’s real-life second wife Marjorie Bransfield can be spotted in the character of Betsy and this also marked the final film appearance for both Fritz Feld and Anne Ramsey.
The film features a wide-array of musical styles, which works against it. I liked Richie Havens rendition of ‘Home’, which had the nice laid-back beat and folk tinged sound that you expect for a road movie. Some of the more hard rock, heavy metal stuff became too loud and obnoxious and takes the viewer out of the picture instead of wrapping them in.
I liked the scenery and there are a few interesting moments, but trying to mix the surreal with the gritty is misguided. The comical bits get drowned out by the scenes of violence and a very maudlin theme. The result is an uneven film that pales in comparison to the classic road movies.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: December 1, 1989
Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes
Director: Andrei Konchalovskiy
Studio: Skouras Pictures
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu