Tag Archives: Jim Carrey

Finders Keepers (1984)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Stolen loot inside coffin.

Based on the 1974 novel ‘The Next-to-Last Train Ride’ by Charles Dennis, the story centers on Michael Rangeloff (Micheal O’Keefe) who is a con-man on the run from a women’s roller derby team by hiding out as a U.S. Army General. He boards a train that has a coffin on it with millions of stolen dollars hidden inside. Once he becomes aware of this he tries to hatch a plan with a kooky actress (Beverly D’Angelo) that he meets along the way in helping him to get the money out of the coffin and off the train without being detected.

This is the type of film that gives comical farces a bad name. I’m all for comedies with a hyper-frantic pace and mistaken identities, but it still needs to have some grounding in what’s possible. This thing relies way too heavily on coincidences and random events to hold it together. The whole scenario that leads Michael getting onto the train is too much of an overreach. A more sane and less dizzying premise would’ve had Michael working on the train as a conductor from the start and then coming onto the money by chance, which would’ve been far less protracted.

His relationship with D’Angelo is dumb too. The women immediately comes-off as a babbling nutcase, even admits to suffering from mental health issues, and the type of person who usually gets thrown off of trains and planes for their disruptive behavior. Most people would be glad to be away from her the first chance they had and yet here the two end up going to bed together and profess their undying love for each other within 24-hours of first meeting.

The original concept was to use this as a vehicle for Dudley Moore, but that idea got nixed when the studio decided they wanted to make it an ensemble comedy instead, which was a big mistake. O’Keefe plays the role admirable, but he doesn’t have enough finesse that a comic star would. The supporting cast doesn’t help either. David Wayne’s portrayal of the world’s oldest conductor relies too heavily on the stereotype that every person who gets elderly must also be senile and it’ hard to imagine how anyone could hold done a job being as forgetful and out-of-touch as his character is. Ed Lauter, who wears a wig here, does not have the needed comic flair to make his bad-guy role either interesting or amusing. Oh, and Jim Carrey appears briefly too, but it’s a small bit that isn’t anything special.

Richard Lester directed many good comedies in his career, but the stylish quality that made up so much of his films from the 60’s is completely missing here. Everything gets captured in a flat, uninspired way and I didn’t like the Canadian province of Alberta being substituted for Nebraska as its flat wheat fields look nothing like the rolling prairie of the Midwest and the bleak late autumn topography complete with leafless trees gives off a chilly, depressing feel.

The scene where D’Angelo and Lauter find themselves inside a house while it is being trucked down a highway is kind of cool and outside of the low budget 80’s flick Mind Trapthe only time I’ve seen this done on film. Watching the house then end up losing its roof, after it goes under a low hanging overhead sign, and going down the road with skeletal frame exposed is fun too, but everything else is a bore that tries too hard to be frantic when it wasn’t necessary.

I was also confused why the setting of the story had to be in the year 1973 as it doesn’t play-up the 70’s era enough to make it worth it. My only guess was that with the Vietnam War still raging that it fit into the storyline of having dead soldiers returning home in coffins. However, since the US continually gets involved in foreign conflicts all the time this same scenario could easily work in any time period and sadly wasn’t unique just to that decade.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: May 18, 1984

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Richard Lester

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS

Once Bitten (1985)

once bitten

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: She needs virgin blood.

A sexy vampire Countess (Lauren Hutton) who lives in a sprawling Beverly Hills mansion along with her male servant (Cleavon Little) needs a regular dose of blood to keep up her youthful looks. The problem is that the blood must come from a virgin and since this is the ‘80s, where every teenager is fooling around, it becomes harder for her to come upon someone who still hasn’t had any sex. Fortunately for her she meets Mark (Jim Carrey) who has yet to lose his virginity and this is mainly because of the reluctance of his current girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins). The Countess immediately takes Mark back to her place and gets it on with him and is able to get her much needed blood supply, but in the process she also turns Mark into a vampire and his friends and family begin to notice the changes.

The idea of mixing the vampire genre with an ‘80’s teen sex comedy was a bad one and should’ve been nixed at the concept stage and like with its main character never allowed to see the light of day. For one thing it’s much too tame and sterile. No scares or raunchiness and although there are a few mildly amusing bits there isn’t enough of them in a poorly paced film that quickly becomes quite boring. It also relies too heavily on broad stereotypes and caricatures with no footing in reality at all and a script littered with what today’s audiences will consider homophobic dialogue.

The vampire angle is poorly thought out. A person’s blood type doesn’t change once they’ve had sex making the ‘virgin blood’ idea quite stupid. Besides if she really wants to make sure to get someone who hasn’t had sex then why not just bite the necks of children? Granted it would be a very un-p.c. plot, but it also would allow for a creepier angle and besides it would then turn the kids into little vampires, which would bring in an extra edge to the story. The film also fails to explain what happens with the Carrey character as we see him slowly turning into a vampire a little bit each day, but not with what ultimately transpires once he fully does.

On the acting side I thought the two leads did quite well. Hutton is gorgeous and the idea of pairing a much older woman with a younger man is actually quite sexy. Carrey is also good. In some of his movies he overacts and becomes like a modern-day Jerry Lewis, but here he is more restrained and even genuinely engaging. My only complaint is that he is clearly past his teen years and at one point even states that he is going to college, but the scenes of him at school make it seem much more like he is still in high school.

If you are into vampire movies I’d say you could skip this one as it adds nothing new to the theme and for the most part treats the vampire idea in a very transparent way. As a teen sex comedy it also fails with a script that meanders too much including having an extended scene showing Carrey’s two nerdy high school buddies (Thomas Ballatore, Skip Lackey) trying to hit on two women at a laundromat that has nothing at all to do with the main plot and should’ve been cut. However, if your fans of Hutton or Carrey then it might be worth a look as they both give surprisingly solid performances despite the weak material.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: November 15, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Howard Storm

Studio: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video