The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on March 11, 1990 · 948
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 948

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Sunday, March 11, 1990
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948
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fill SUNDAY MARCH 11 1990 VU THE MIAMI HERALD INTERNATIONAL EDITION AT THE MOVIES Imaginative premise is sacrificed Joe Vs Volcano goes downhill fast By JUAN CARLOS COTO Herald Entertainment Writer Imagine a child with a box of crayons and paper to waste He picks any color draws in every direction — sometimes in the lines sometimes out That’s w hat John Patrick Shanley the screenwriter of Moonstruck does in his directorial debut Joe Versus the Volcano a bizarre fairy tale starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan Like a gifted child Shanley sometimes surprises you He also gets on your nerves Joe Versus the Volcano goes from expressionistic and bleak to hilarious and downright obnoxious as it tells the story of Joe Banks (Hanks) a hypochondriac office worker who learns he has a terminal disease After the fateful meeting with his quacky doctor (Robert Stack) a billionaire named Graynamore (Lloyd Bridges) shows up at Joe’s house and convinces him to travel to a far-off island in the South Pacific There he will sacrifice himself to a volcano See the inhabitants of Waponi Woo — a mixture of Polynesian Celtic Hebrew and Latin — have a special mineral Graynamore needs to make superconductors Banks is the perfect trade In return Graynamore gives Banks four gold credit cards and lets him live like a king on the way to his suicide If it sounds like gimmicks are coming from nowhere that’s the point Shanley’s best asset (he also wrote the script) is his element of surprise his quirky inventiveness One minute Tom Hanks is strolling around a gloomy gray factory and the next he’s m a restaurant with Ryan listening to a manachi band sing On the Street Where You Live — in Spanish Shanley also hit us with some great supporting characters: Dan Hedaya (Blood Simple) as Banks’ cantankerous nonsensical boss ON THE EDGE: Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (in one of three roles) find themselves on a suicide mission to a remote South Seas island Ossie Davis (Da Mayor in Do the Rtght Thing) as a surprisingly wise chauffeur and Barry McGovern as a luggage salesman who finds that his product is the ‘‘central preoccupation of my life” In another zinger from nowhere Shanley has Ryan play three different women m the film: DeDe a ditzy secretary at Banks’ office Angelica Graynamore’s troubled daughter and Patricia her reasonably well-adjusted half-sister who captains the ship that sails to Wopam Woo The problem: Patricia the Ryanette with whom we’re forced to spend the most time is the most boring and least funny of the trio Worse yet looking back at the other two you realize you really wouldn’t want them to return either It's fun to watch Ryan stretch herself but this is acting gymnastics One can’t help recalling how much more promising she was in When Harry Met Sally Hanks has his moments of inspired slapstick — there’s a great dancing bit in the middle of the ocean — but as the movie careens toward a moronic conclusion we can see he’s lost in Shanley’s colorful mess The movie takes a sharp turn downward in the second half and ends up eliciting such confused descriptions as “cute” and “different” After it’s over one thing is perfectly clear Joe Versus the Volcano MOVIE REVIEW JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO (PG) Cast: Tom Hanks Meg Ryan Lloyd Bridges Robert Stack Aoe Vigoda Dan Hedaya Barry McGovern Ossie Davis Writer-director: John Patrick Shanley Cinematographer: Stephen Goldblatt Executive producers: Steven Spielberg Kathleen Kennedy Frank Marshall Music: Georges Delerue A Warner Bros release Running time 100 minutes Some adult gags for all its wacky gags delightfully bizarre look and ill-fated attempts at insight is only one thing: Mediocre Homer and Eddie make oddest of couples By BILLCOSFORD Herald Movie Critic Homer and Eddie is the story of the crosscountry romance between an escaped mental patient and a brain-damaged drifter played by Whoopi Goldberg and James Belushi respectively They meet cute hit the road from Arizona to Oregon goof around a lot then become mired hip-deep in pathos It’s a nightmare all right — but doubtless not quite the bad dream that Andrei Konchalovsky the director intended If you can imagine Rain' Man played as a vaudeville skit you have an idea of Homer and Eddie though not perhaps the full measure of this film’s failure Two big problems: Belushi is no Dustin Hoffman and Goldberg is simply out of control No news there on either count — Goldberg has become one of the most irritating figures m modem cinema seemingly unable to keep from mugging no matter what the script in question calls for Belushi’s Homer who took a line drive to the ear when he was a kid playing third base ("That’s why I am the way I am” he says dolefully though after watching him a bit you figure that can ’t be the full explanation) totters about like a poor man’s Chaplin grinning vacantly and rolling his eyes He’s likable enough but he’s all wrong too Belushi can’t yet submerge his comic self beneath the surface of a serious role and you keep seeing the knowing buffoon peer through he’s never believeable Goldberg has a bigger test — her role is badly written — so she fails more broadly Eddie (nee Edwina) has a cerebral tumor the size of a walnut “My brain’s wrapped around it like a jellyfish” she tells Homer in what passes for eloquence in this script Why don’t we feel sorry for Eddie? It’s not just that she’s a lout She has bad habits: She carries a large pistol lives off the profits of convemence- HOMER AND EDDIE (R) Cast: Whoopi Goldberg James Belushi Karen Black Anne Ramsey Director: Andrei Konchalovsky Producers: Moritz Borman James Cady Screenwriter: Patrick Cirillo Cinematographer: Lajos Koltai A Skouras release Running time 100 minutes Vulgar language violence store robberies and leaves a string of bodies behind — she shoots the innocents and the film never gives us the shred of a reason to forgive her Nor does Homer and Eddie give us any reason to forgive its forced emotions Homer and Eddie are little more than cartoons Konchalovsky wants us to like them because they’re damaged but that’s not reason enough There’s enough manipulation here to give ET the willies but barely enough character to float a sitcom It’s a mess and no fun at all Hunt lacking in reality but it’s lots of fun By BILLCOSFORD 1 Herald Movie Critic The submarines in The Hunt for Red October chase each other about the North Atlantic in a blunderbuss undersea ballet They’re sausage-fat and they creak under the weight of a thousand feet of water but m this film at least they cavort with surprising grace like bad-news otters They’re models of course — none of us will ever know what a cat-and-mouse game among Soviet and American nuclear subs actually looks like — but they’re good models indeed and we believe That’s the way it is with Tom Clancy author of The Hunt for Red October and a senes of subsequent novels about America’s high-tech military in the push-button 1980s He’s a bad writer but boy can he research So a Clancy novel even as it creaks and groans under narrative strains at least as crushing as the ones he puts his subs under manages to entertain Who else knows so much about sonar for mstance that he can hold your attention for whole chapters on the nuances of undersea sound profiles? Clancy is nowhere near as good at plausible narrative or heroic character and neither is this movie directed by John McTiernan (who earlier made the more nimble Predator and Die Hard ) A Clancy hero is likely to have a short Anglo-Saxon name and a long Anglo-Saxon pedigree and to operate under the burden of cast-iron clichd Jack Ryan the CIA researcher who is the hero of The Hunt for Red October is vintage Clancy boilerplate and McTiernan does nothing to make him more human At one point near the climax Ryan (played by girder-stiff Alec Baldwin) first drives a Soviet sub (though he has no nautical experience) then sets out pistol in hand after a Soviet fanatic who intends to end the world as we know it (though Ryan’s spy duties to this point have been limited to writing naval histones) No matter how much the film wants you to love Baldwin (and he’s the guy with the contract to do the rest of Clancy’s Jack Ryan movies if this one is a winner) the decision to cast him opposite Sean Connery as the Soviet sub commander who wants to defect but has the whole Soviet navy after him was a killing blow The tw'o don’t share much screen time but the difference m energy level between their scenes is palpable — Connery steals the movie even when he’s not on screen He makes his character real though he MOVIE REVIEW THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (PG) Cast: Sean Connery Alec Baldwin Scott Glenn Courtney B Vance James Earl Jones Sam Neill Director John McT lernan Producer: Mace Neuteld Screenwriters: Larry ferguson Donald Stewart Based on the novel by Tom Clancy Cinematographer Jan De Bont Music: Basil Poledouris A Paramount Pictures release Running time 130 minutes Vulgar language violence doesn’t have the accent for it or even the look The film’s only other interesting character isn’t Baldwin’s but the American sonar operator played by Courtney B Vance — he’s the real detective in the piece (and theatrics aside the real hero) So what’s to like here? Plenty for followers of Clancy and devotees of East-West tension at the put-up-your-dukes level McTiernan isn’t as smooth or as quick as he was the first time out but The Hunt for Red October isn’t that kind of plot either — it’s a sea-battle story with very little battle so McTiernan’s gift for action doesn’t come into play so much Nor is he as good at moving the big objects around as he was with commandos m the jungle or Bruce Willis in the high-rise But a lot of this movie takes care of itself and McTiernan knows it He’s aware of the sexy possibilities of big weapons and he lets his cameras examine the subs inside and out with the patience of a new lover Like Top Gun The Hunt for Red October works best as a pitch for the glories of military service in a time when that service means operating sophisticated heavy machinery not dying in a trench The shots of the peacetime Navy in action tracking the bad guys in the world’s most expensive game make for vivid images with or without the aid of plot Nuclear submarines are fascinating whether we like it or not The most intriguing aspect of this film is that McTiernan gets some tension into it even though there’s nothing really at stake — no global conflict no thermonuclear sizzle The only real question is whether the CIA will get a Soviet submarine to examine for a few months In other words if you liked the Cold War you’ll love The Hunt for Red October Reality fans will merely laugh and hoot But still there’s Connery and the big subs and the whizzing torpedoes and what the hell Lowe’s notoriety makes movie’s casting director’s dream Bad Influence predictable ticketbuyers deserve better YUPPIE COUPLE: Drifter Alex (Rob Lowe left) befriends Michael (James Spader) then betrays him in Bad Influence By JUAN CARLOS COTO Herald Entertainment Writer Talk about believing your own press Rob Lowe who for the immediate future will have the words “sex” “videotape” and “scandal” spoken within seconds of his name turns his tabloid persona into a sociopathic screen villain in Bad Influence Lowe became the supermarket rags’ Crowned Prince of Prurience in 1988 after he videotaped himself having sex with two women while attending the Democratic National Convention The actor was publicly defensive at first but in Bad Influence he capitalizes on the Sex Tape Thing with the savvy of a veteran publicist The movie is filled with references to the ’80s’ hottest home movie Sex and a video camcorder turn out to be integral to the plot One scene shows the camera perched over Lowe’s shoulder — like a parrot with his pirate — and another features Kinky Rob making love to two women Lowe is in effect dropping his own name The actor along with director Curtis Hanson seems to bank on the expectation that moviegoers will pack into Bad Influence hoping for a vicarious glimpse into Rob Lowe’s sex life There’s more room for upped publicity value for who better than James Spader — named best actor at Cannes for sex lies and videotape — to play opposite Lowe? It’s a studio executive’s dream Lowe portrays Alex a drifter who goes by a half-dozen aliases and derives pleasure from befriending people destroying their lives then disappearing His latest victim is Michael Boll (Spader) a namby- pamby yuppie who lives in his pristine Los Angeles apartment with his laptop computer Lotus 1-2-3 and an espresso machine After a not-so-chance meeting at a bar the two go out for some beers and Alex convinces Michael to stand up to office enemies and go after that senior analyst job It works and they celebrate by bringing a woman home after a night on the town Here’s where the video camera comes m Alex shoots some primo footage of Michael m the act and later uses it against him Things get more involved but not that much more Bad Influence takes mostly predictable steps and tries to wrap up a forgotten subplot with some quick dialogue It’s also hard to watch Lowe make inside jokes during a movie with no substantial female characters — the women are all props or plot devices Still strip away the off-screen hype and Bad Influence comes off as a mildly compelling yuppie descent into decadence a sort of Bright Lights Big City with teeth Spader plays the Michael J Fox role with his usual soft-spoken pres- M0V1E REVIEW BAD INFLUENCE (R) Cast: Rob Lowe James Spader Lisa Zane Director: Curtis Hanson Screenwriter: David Koepp Cinematographer: Robert Elswit Producer: Steve T isch Music:Trevor Jones A Triumph release Running time 96 minutes Violence vulgar language implicit sex adult themes ence but it’s not enough He fails to connect in the film’s most intense moments and becomes a yuppie stereotype Lowe proved he could play a weasel with depth when he tried to con blueblood Meg Tilly out of millions in the underrated 1988 thriller Masquerade But Alex is thin His erratic behavior is an excuse to not draw the character sharply and Lowe seems too concerned with making a sleazoid caricature of himself anyway By JUAN CARLOS COTO Herald Entertainment Writer The under-21 crowd will probably find House Party pretty happening Everybody else: This is VCR material Brought to you by the newcomer team of the Hudhn brothers — Warrington a Yale graduate is the producer and Reginald a Harvard grad the writer-director — House Party is Spike Lee doing John Hughes a teen comedy told from an African-American point of view It’s a view often lost in Hollywood’s Wonder Bread world That’s why the Hud-lins are a welcome pair They celebrate modern black culture with no needless apologies The movie stars the real-life rap duo Kid ’n’ Play and the rhythm-and-blues record-producing team of Full Force Kid (Christopher Reid) is the misfit of the high school class m an unnamed city a would-be MOVIE REVIEW HOUSE PARTY (R) Cast: Christopher Reid Robin Harris Christopher Martin Martin Lawrence Tisha Campbell A J Johnson Bowlegged Lou B Fine Writer-director: Reginald Hudlin Producer: Warrington Hudlin Cinematographer: Peter Deming Music: Marcus Miller A New Line Cinema release Running time 105 minutes Vulgar language rapper with an eraserhead haircut and an itching to land a sweetheart Play (Christopher Martin) is the suave half of the duo who decides to throw a bash at his house when his parents leave town Add a pair of love interests to the mix — Tisha Campbell and AJ Johnson both from Lee’s School Daze — and you have the makings of a pre-adult party flick Full Force — three guys named Paul Anthony Bowlegged Lou and B Fine — star as the heavies They chase Kid around for most of the night and try to crash the party As you might have guessed the story is basically thin but there are plenty of gags and a couple of rap sequences that fit the plot well and move the story along Reginald who expanded House Party from his 1983 student film of the same name serves up humor ranging from hip and funky to scatological and dumb — there is a point of view shot from inside a toilet House Party is decidely safe sex-conscious and anti-dnnk-and-drugs Regmald tackles the alcohol question directly by having the party’s heaviest drinker catch loads of hilarious grief for his addiction Drugs however are subtly protested — they’re never seen or heard from House Party lightweight but message worthy Lodz Ghetto powerful disturbing By CHRISTINE ARNOLD DOLEN Herald Arts Writer Eloquent words shattering images Together they work to make Lodz Ghetto — a dramatic documentary about the internment and forced labor of 200000 Jews m Poland during World War II — a history lesson of rare and deeply affecting power Whether you know little or a great deal about the Jews who labored throughout the war m Lodz only to die as their liberation was in sight whether W’orld War II seems a remote event or you suffered the loss of many you loved it’s impossible to sit through Lodz Ghetto without feeling a visceral empathy with the Jews who were forced to work for their Nazi captors MOVIE REVIEW LODZ GHETTO (U V? Cast: Jerzy Kosmski Nicholas Kepros David Warrilow Barbara Rosenblat Gregory Gordon Theodore Bikel Julie Cohen Lynn Choen Jerry Matz Frederick Neumann SamTsousouvas Eva Weiiisz Directors: Kathryn Taverna and Alan Adel-son Producer Alan Adelson Music: Wendy B'ackstone Cinematographers: Jozef Piwkowski and Eugene Squires Still cinematography: Gary Becker and Kathryn Taverna Script: Alan Adelson from writings of the Lodz Ghetto A Jewish Heritage Proect film Running time 103 minutes Contains nudity araphic shots of violence i 1

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