Sitting Ducks (1980)

sitting ducks 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Running from the mob.

Simon (Michael Emil) and Sidney (Zach Norman) are two average guys with vastly different temperaments who decide to rip-off the mob by stealing their entire day’s collections. They then hide the money in the tires of their car while driving off with it to Florida where they hope to catch a chartered flight that will take them to Costa Rica. Along the way they meet up with two ditzy ladies (Irene Cagen, Patrice Townsend) as well as a chauffeur (Richard Romanus) who dreams of being a singer.

Michael Emil, who is the brother of the director Henry Jaglom, is a very poor actor and comes off as a third-rate Woody Allen. He talks incessantly about all his neurotic problems in a monotone style that has no voice inflections or facial gestures and ends up becoming more boring than funny and he is easily outperformed by his co-star Norman. Townsend, the director’s then wife, is not much better. She shows no ability at creating a character and seems to just mouth all her lines while having this big smile plastered on her face. The overall production has an amateurish look and the story itself seems like two movies rolled into one. The first part starts out like an intriguing crime caper and then the second part becomes this free spirited road movie. It would have worked better had they taken just one of the story lines to its satisfying conclusion instead of having two unsatisfying half stories. The set-up is great, but then doesn’t go anywhere with it and the ‘big’ twist that occurs near the film’s final fifteen minutes doesn’t work and has a bunch of loopholes in it that are a mile wide.

I did like the film’s free-form style that is lacking in many of today’s Hollywood produced movies that have too much of a rapid fire pace. The characters all have a wide assortment of fun quirks and their offbeat conversations are amusing. Richard Romanus, as the group’s chauffeur and struggling musician, comes off best and his songs aren’t bad either and the scene where Simon and Sidney try to have an ‘important’ discussion while walking through a field of cackling chickens is a gem.

This forerunner to the independent film movement has a few good quirky moments and characters, but it never comes together enough to be completely satisfying. Although overall it is still enough to find enjoyable.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 4, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Henry Jaglom

Studio: International Rainbow

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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