Tag Archives: James Belushi

The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)

man-red-1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: He’s not a spy.

Cooper (Dabney Coleman) wants to remove Ross (Charles Durning) from his position as director of the CIA so he can occupy it himself. To do this he tries to make it appear that Ross is corrupt and so as a defensive strategy Ross comes up with a scheme of his own. Since he knows that Cooper has his place bugged he has a mock conversation with Brown (Edward Herrmann) telling him that there’s a spy with important information and which he should meet at the airport in order to retrieve. However, there really is no spy it’s all just made up, so that Cooper and his entourage will waste time following around the wrong person, which they do in the case of Richard (Tom Hanks) a man spotted wearing only one red shoe and who now finds his life turned upside down for no apparent reason.

This is a remake of the French classic The Tall Blonde Man with One Black Shoe and surprisingly it manages to stay very close to the original. To some extent it becomes almost a shot-for-shot retelling with very little that gets changed. Most American films have a much broader sense of humor than European ones and so I was a bit amazed how subtle the comedy stays, but this could also explain why this did so poorly at the box office.

For me this biggest transgression is that this version loses the satirical edge that was so apparent and funny in the first one. The CIA agents aren’t funny at all and don’t come off like real spies just a bunch of incompetent buffoons. None of them have any discernable personalities and it somehow manages to make even Dabney Coleman seem boring and I was really surprised that he even took the part.

Hanks is equally dull and not half as funny as Pierre Richard who played the same part in the original. Richard was of a goofy eccentric while Hanks’ character is a blah ordinary guy who plays off the comedy instead of being a part of it. I also didn’t like that he eventually becomes aware of what is going as I thought it was more amusing that the character remains permanently oblivious to it all like in the French film.

The one improvement that I did like was the presence of Lori Singer as the female agent who is very attractive and has a low, low cut dress that I really digged. However, in the original the female spy, which was played by Mireille Darc, didn’t fall-in-love with the main character until after she got to know him while here Singer appears to be attracted to Hanks right from the beginning for no reason.

There are indeed a few funny moments particularly Hanks visit to his dentist and the scene where he must flush his toilet several times in order to get the water to come out of his sink faucet. Jim Belushi gets a few laughs as his friend who thinks he’s seeing things that really aren’t there, but overall the original is still superior although by not as wide of a margin as with most other American remakes. I was also frustrated that there is never any explanation for why the Hanks character is wearing only one red shoe. In the French film it at least gets explained, but here they don’t even do that.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: July 19, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Stan Dragoti

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

Homer and Eddie (1989)

homer and eddie

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

Rated R

Director: Andrei Konchalovskiy

Studio: Skouras Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu