Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Glad to see me? I guess we're in the next life!

The universe seems to be conspiring to make me write a post about my favorite movie, "Midnight Run." (Note: "favorite" does not directly equal "best I've ever seen," but rather #1 on my Desert Island list.) First, my column for today got bumped to Sunday and I needed something good to post. I'm already in a nostalgic state of mind with these "Freaks and Geeks" recaps. The other day, TV Without Pity posted a list of its editors' favorite movies to watch whenever they're on TV. When I went to Edward Copeland's site to read his "Superbad" review, I saw that he had written a tribute to "Real Genius," another Desert Island favorite of mine. (My friend Fitz and I spent all of sophomore year at Penn quoting this movie at each other.) And while thumbing through EW's Fall Movie Preview issue, I saw in the entry for "Gone, Baby Gone" that Ben Affleck cast John Ashton in an important role because of how much he loved him in... "Midnight Run."

If you feel like the reviews of a seven-year-old TV show are too retro, feel free to skip this tribute to a 1988 box office disappointment. But if the phrase "Serrano's got the disks!" means anything to you, or if you're just a fan of action/comedy/drama hybrids with great set pieces and even greater chemistry (because there are oh so many of them), I'm going to write an ode to Walsh and The Duke just as soon as I try on my new sunglasses...

For the benefit of those of you blindly loyal enough to click through even though you haven't seen the movie, here's a basic summary (more spoiler-y content will follow later, so if you're intrigued just go rent the thing and come back later):

Robert DeNiro is Jack Walsh, a disgraced ex-Chicago cop who now works as an LA bounty hunter. It's a miserable, bottom-feeding business, and Walsh wants out. So when bondsman Eddie Moscone (Joey Pants) asks him to chase after an accountant who skipped on a $500,000 bond, Jack demands a hundred grand reward so he can retire and open up a coffee shop. The accountant is one Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Charles Grodin), who discovered he was working for notorious mobster Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina), embezzled millions and gave it away to charity. Walsh has five days to find The Duke and bring him back to LA for trial on some unrelated charge, and while he finds Mardukas very quickly in New York, getting him across the country becomes a huge problem when Serrano's goons, an FBI agent named Alonzo Mosely (Yaphet Kotto) and rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler (Ashton) all try to abduct or kill Jack's charge.

Sounds pretty generic, right? A hodgepodge of every '80s action buddy movie cliche, I know. Even with the terrific execution (save for some pacing problems near the end; the movie's about 15 minutes and one car chase too long), why "Midnight Run"? Why this movie above all others, above any examples of my beloved Underdog Sports Movie genre, why above the collected works of Spielberg, Scorsese, Hitchcock and Ratner? (Okay, just goofing on the last one. Or so you think.)

Again, I recognize that there are many, many movies that are objectively better, but none gives me as much sheer pleasure on viewing after viewing. Some if it's my age; I was 14 when it came out, a very impressionable age, and it had so many appealing traits like car chases and shoot-outs and lots and lots and lots of profanity. (IMDb puts the number of F-word uses at exactly 119, which had to be a record at the time, especially for a non-Mamet film.) But the age thing only goes so far (even allowing for that year also including other Sepinwall Pantheon films like "Die Hard" and "The Naked Gun"). The age made me more susceptible to the movie's charms, but it was "Midnight Run" itself that has made me love it so much over the (nearly -- gulp -- 20) years since its release.

I'm a big fan of Little Bit Of Everything movies, and "Midnight Run" is a pretty great example of that. It has action and comedy and thrills and pathos and male bonding and Americana. (One of my favorite things to observe on repeat viewings is the movie's ode to the American service industry: waiters, train porters, etc. all come off quite well. No wonder Walsh wants to open a coffee shop; he'd probably be happier doing that.) Lots of movies try to do many or all of those things, but "Midnight Run" is one of the few that pulls it all off equally.

Of course, it helps when you have Robert DeNiro in your lead role, because the man can do anything. This was his first out-and-out comedy, and unlike the current paycheck phase of his career, he still gave a crap about his craft. Walsh is gruff and cynical and prone to violence, but he also has a wiseass side that you just didn't expect to get from DeNiro in 1988. It's probably too pretentious to compare Walsh to Philip Marlowe (I love "Midnight Run," but I'm not kidding myself about its ambitions), yet hearing Walsh heckle Mosely with lines like "These sunglasses, they're really nice: are they government-issued, or all you guys go to the same store to get them?," I can't help but lament the fact that nobody ever thought to cast DeNiro in a Raymond Chandler adaptation when he was younger and still trying.

DeNiro's versatility allows the movie to go through a lot of tonal shifts without seming clumsy about it. Walsh can be threatening to smash the Duke's head into a toilet bowl one minute, doing a slow-burn over the Duke questioning his meal choices the next, running frantically from Serrano's snipers right after that and then grab right for the heartstrings when he goes to beg his ex-wife for the cash to complete the trip.

That scene with Walsh's ex, more than any other, is what that makes "Midnight Run" more special than your average '80s buddy flick. It's such a raw, painful moment that it provides a gravitational pull to the rest of what could easily be (and occasionally is) a very cartoonish movie. In that moment when Walsh sees his daughter for the first time in years -- and we in turn understand his need to escape his humiliating bounty hunter existence -- he becomes a real person we care about, and that in turn lends weight and even plausibility to those scenes where he's shooting helicopters out of the sky or figuring out how to solve all of his problems with a package of blank computer disks. (The scene also signals a sea change in his relationship with the Duke, even more than their night as train hobos. Once the Duke has witnessed this most private of moments, Walsh can't entirely view him as a meal ticket, though he still talks like he does.)

More than holding his own opposite DeNiro is Grodin, who's like some kind of marvel of conservationism. His energy level always seems barely there, and yet he wrings these huge laughs out of tiny changes of inflection or unexpected pauses. Witness the many different ways he asks Jack "Why are you unpopular with the Chicago police department?" while they're on the bus, the constant mental recalculation going on as he asks the El Paso waitress about the price of coffee and tea or his deadpan (and, from what I understand, improvised) impersonation of an FBI agent while he works the counterfeit bill scam. I recognize that he was always a square peg for most of his acting career, but it's hard to fathom that Grodin was, like, the 17th choice to play this part (after a list that included Robin Williams, the young Bruce Willis and... Cher). He's perfect, and he bounces off DeNiro brilliantly.

Director Martin Brest (the man responsible for two of the biggest stinkers ever in "Gigli" and "Meet Joe Black," yet also unarguably a key creative force here) surrounds DeNiro and Grodin with a Murderer's Row of Hey, It's That Guy!s, all cast marvelously to type: Joey Pants as a weasel, Kotto as a grouchy authority figure (I love that Mosely takes out his frustrations about Walsh stealing his ID by constantly stealing Marvin's cigarettes), Ashton as a tough guy without much going on upstairs, Philip Baker Hall as Serrano's cautious attorney and, especially, Farina as Serrano himself. Farina has all these great sarcastic, profane tirades that are the best of their kind this side of Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glen Ross," yet he dials it down brilliantly for the moment where Serrano sits with the Duke in the back of a limo and coldly declares that he's going to kill him tonight, go home, have a nice dinner, "And then I'm going to find your wife and I'm going to kill her, too." Again, lots of other movies and actors would give you whiplash between the jokes about stabbing people with pencils and chilling threats to men's wives, but here, as played by Farina, it works.

As I said above, the movie's too long (the final car chase outside Flagstaff doesn't remotely need to be there, save that I'm sure some studio executive complained the movie was getting too slow), and there are some logic problems that get more glaring on repeat viewing (I've seen the movie dozens of times and still don't understand the nature of the Duke's initial arrest or why Mosely doesn't want Walsh to bring him in). But there is no movie in my collection that has gotten more play, no other movie that I'm always in the mood for, no movie that offers me all kinds of little pleasures each time. (This time, as I rewatched it to get my head around this blog entry, it was closing my eyes from time to time just to appreciate Danny Elfman's very atypical blues-y score.)

Thanks for indulging me. August's a slow month. Feel free to use the comments to ramble on about your own Desert Island #1. And if no one wants to give me a ride home from the airport, looks like I'm walking...

47 comments:

Craig said...

I've always liked this movie and remember it fondly. Directed by the very odd Martin Brest, who employs a Kubrickian approach (hundreds of takes per scene) to the most high-concept of stories (Scent of a Woman, Meet Joe Black, Gigli like you said), his style really opens up the performances of Grodin and DeNiro, who are free and easy here in a way they haven't been since.

Homertojeebus said...

Didn't read the post yet, but I had to say How Weird! Yesterday, I asked about late 70's, early 80's comedies that I'd missed, and I almost posted about Midnight
Run as a favorite that I HAD seen, but then I realized the era was all wrong. This is one of my faves, too. Best chemistry ever?

Homertojeebus said...

Excellent analysis. There is a strange subcategory of movies for me that , if I catch them on TV, no matter what point in the movie or what I'm doing, I Must Finish the Movie. The quality of these movies is wildly varied, and I can't figure out the formula. Midnight Run fits, except I almost never see it on TV.
There are movies that I love that don't fall into this category. If Kill Bill comes on, I will flip away and watch the DVD another day. But for some reason, if Chain Reaction is on, I Must Watch the Rest of It. The worst culprit of these, however, is The Hunt for Red October. Why am I transfixed EVERY TIME? It's a really long movie.
I find this phenomenon similar to VH1 TalkingHeadShowMarathon Syndrome. If I watch 5 minutes of one of these, I'm done, my whole Sunday is shot. Doesn't matter, it could be Most Awesome Moments in Folk.
I haven't done a desert island list in years, but Midnight Run is definitely on it. Kill Bill 1&2. Miller's Crossing. Die Hard 2.

Dark Tyler said...

I stopped reading the moment Ratner's name popped up! Just kidding! (Or so you think. LOL)

Seriously now, I've always avoided this movie because I've found Martin Brest's other movies absolutely laughable. I guess I'll give it a shot now.

Desert Island #1, you say? Well, "Fight Club".

Alan Sepinwall said...

Seriously now, I've always avoided this movie because I've found Martin Brest's other movies absolutely laughable.

It's a real outlier in terms of quality, even though you can see many familiar elements in a lot of other Brest movies. ("Scent of a Woman" is another oddball, tone-shifting road movie that goes on too long, but it's brought down by the suckfest that is Chris O'Donnell and a terrible script.)

dez said...

(paraphrasing here) "I've got two words to say to you: Shut the f*** up!"

I love this movie. Disagree with your assessment that DeNiro is simply collecting a paycheck with every role in his recent career (maybe some of them, but not all!).

Alan Sepinwall said...

The exact exchange, Dez:

"Jack, you're a grown man. You have control over your own words."
"You're goddamn right I do, so here come two for you: shut the f*** up!"

Also, I just looked at DeNiro's recent filmography, and while I haven't seen everything he's done in the last six or seven years, the only movies where he was clearly making an effort were The Good Shepherd (which he directed) and The Score, back in 2001. He can clearly still act when he wants to; it's just rare when he wants to.

Anonymous said...

The ultimate desert island movie that belongs on everyone's list, the movie everyone in the english speaking world will stop and finish if they come across it on TV, the movie that is on everyones all time favorites list, even if they forget to put it on there, is "Groundhog Day." It is the "Dexter" of movie comedy: So good on every level that it is easy to forget how goo it is. There is never a bad time to watch it, and no matter how well you know it, some parts will always make you laugh.

To the Groundhog!

Anonymous said...

I never drank a cream soda again without the urge to drop a couple of F-bombs in a Chicago accent.

Kat Coble said...

I was one of the half-dozen people who saw this in the theatre during it's first run, and I've evangelised it ever since.

In several ways it is not unlike another favourite of mine--The Big Lebowski.

It's got dry wit in the face of absurd situations, goofball buddies and, of course, "Shut the f*ck up". Which I've always seen as a phrase Walter Sobchek stole from DeNiro.

Poor Donny.

David J. Loehr said...

I've loved Midnight Run from day one, never understood why it didn't do better. I'd always been a Charles Grodin fan (at least until his talk show), but even at that, I didn't expect the pairing to be as sublime as it was. (Good, yes, but that good?)

My Desert Island #1 movie might have to be Wonder Boys, another shaggy kind of road to redemption comedy. No matter what time of day or night, no matter how exhausted I may be, as soon as I finish watching, I have the urge to go and write. Doesn't matter what, just write.

Now, if I could take a video iPod loaded with films, Die Hard and Real Genius would probably be in that first fifteen. Val Kilmer has never been so entertaining. "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates..."

Edward Copeland said...

Not that I wouldn't want to take credit for such a great piece, but the post on Real Genius on my site was written by Odienator, not myself.

jim treacher said...

"Serrano's got the disks!" Oh man, I can see it in my mind... every furrow on Yaphet Kotto's forehead. And remember when Joey Pants was still balding?

"You and that other dummy better start gettin' more personally involved in your work, or I'm gonna stab you in the heart with a pencil." Ahhhhh...

I can't watch it when it's on TBS, though, because they butcher the chicken-humping discussion.

Craig said...

Ah, Scent of a Woman: The movie where Brest gives a decision on whether or not to snitch out a pack of jerkballs for a practical joke the gravitas of Sophie's Choice.

Homertojeebus said...

Alien,Blade Runner,Raising Arizona,
The Hudsucker Proxy,The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training,Pitch Black,Rain Man,Talledega Nights,The Matrix,The Outlaw Josey Wales,Goodfellas,Texas Chainsaw,Billy Jack 1 and 2,28 Days Later,Casablanca,Midnight Cowboy,Jaws,Hot Shots!
This better be a big island.

Homertojeebus said...

I liked Scent of a Woman. It's one of those films with a couple of scenes that are so good, it redeems the rest of the mess. Pacino's character choices were very odd and distracting at first, but in the final analysis, correct, I think. Not so much the random screaming in Heat. That movie is too long by half, but the action scenes are works of art.

Susan said...

Alan, thanks for a great post on one of my favorite movies. (I have fond memories of seeing it for the first time when I went to visit my sister during her freshman year of college. And yes, if it's on tv - I'll watch a bit.) You really nailed what elevates it from other "buddy movies" - the great performances, the comic timing, the injections of real drama, and my favorite, the truly moving scene with Walsh's ex-wife. I think the best scene is when Walsh's daughter tries to give him her babysitting money.

Question for you - you say you like movies that have a bit of everything. I happen to love a movie like that that no one else seems to love like I do, "Zero Effect." Do you know it, and if so, do you like it? It's a bit uneven, but it's a comedy, drama, mystery, buddy movie, and romance all in one. If you've seen it, I'm curious what you think.

filmcricket said...

the movie that is on everyones all time favorites list, even if they forget to put it on there, is "Groundhog Day."

I have never got the appeal of "Groundhog Day." Ever. I only saw it once and all can remember is being bored stiff and wanting to kill Andie MacDowell three different ways. Since then, everyone keeps talking about what a piece of genius it is, and I keep wondering what I'm missing.

But anyway: love, love, love Midnight Run. I saw it in the theatre at about the same age you did, Alan, and it inspired a years-long crush on Grodin (I was an odd teenager). I'm not really sure why I don't own it, actually. Has there ever been a special-edition DVD? I'd love to hear some of that cast commentary.

#1 desert island movie? Casablanca. Before I'm killed for having such an unoriginal choice, let me just say it's because it's another one of those "little bit of everything" films: humour, drama, romance, action. It's wonderfully shot and has an ending that you would never see in Hollywood now, not even during wartime. It may be the best propaganda film ever.

(#s 2-10 are The Usual Suspects, The Commitments, The Philadelphia Story the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, The Big Lebowski, Big Night, The Princess Bride, Top Hat and... gotta always keep that one space open.

Ben said...

When I saw the title of the post, I thought "There's no way he's talking about Midnight Run." What a pleasant surprise. As you say, despite a few flaws, this movie is without question one of the greatest ever made. A few points, though:

1) I think you're giving short shrift to Danny Elfman's score. Imagine the scene with Walsh and his daughter without it. Or the film's final scene...a lot of that pathos goes right out the window without the right music. A piece of music that can take you so effortlessly from those emotional moments to the feelgood highs of the action scenes can not be overpraised.

2) Midnight Run is more than a buddy picture. On the most basic level, sure, it follows a formula. But the story is really more intricate with the different elements of the mob, the FBI, Marvin, and all the various permutations of the their interactions...Jerry with the FBI van, Marvin with Tony Darvo. More and better twists and turns than the average buddy film. And the care that was taken with the story extends to a) the dialog b) the casting and c) the acting. It's really like a perfect storm...there are no weak links, anywhere.

I can watch this movie over and over and over again, and I often do.

RP said...

Great post, Alan. One of my all-time favorite movies, as well.

The Duke: "I can't fly. I suffer from aviophobia."
Walsh: "What does that mean?"
The Duke: "It means I can't fly. I also suffer from acrophobia and claustrophobia."
Walsh: "If you don't cooperate, you're gonna suffer from fistophobia."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Susan, I think the only time I saw Zero Effect was at, like, 1 in the morning after coming back from a bar, so I don't know that my head was in the right space to appreciate it. Given how much I've grown to appreciate Jake Kasdan through this summer of Freaks & Geeks, maybe I'll stick it in the queue and try it again.

And Filmcricket, Groundhog Day would almost certainly be in my Desert Island top 10 with Midnight Run, along with (pulling out of my butt, so forgive any obvious omissions): Lebowski, Shawshank, Apollo 13, Hoosiers, Princess Bride, My Favorite Year, North by Northwest and Casablanca.

(Again, off the top of my head, just missing the cut: Bull Durham, Rudy, Breaking Away, Die Hard, Naked Gun, Field of Dreams, Ferris Bueller, Godfather, Goodfellas, The Incredibles, Lawrence of Arabia, Miracle, Animal House, Stalag 17 and Three Kings.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Ben, as I was showering this morning, the Elfman score kept rattling around my head and putting a big smile on my face. It really is my favorite of his, and not just because it sounds so unlike all the stuff he does for Tim Burton. One of the best side effects of this post: I may have a lead on getting a copy of the long out-of-print soundtrack album.

As to your second point, Fienberg was just arguing to me the same thing: that it was the layers to the pursuit that made it special. It's not just Mosely after Walsh, not just Mosely and Marvin, but Mosely, Marvin and, especially, Serrano and his guys. There's so much going on all over the place, and all of the parts are so well-cast, even the little ones. (Tracey Walter has that beautiful little scene where he gets Walsh coffee and a light for his cigarette after Marvin abducts the Duke.)

Homertojeebus said...

Zero Effect! Awesome flick! And it would make a great TV show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

There actually was a "Zero Effect" TV pilot about five years ago, starring Alan Cumming as Zero. It didn't get picked up.

Mr. Bad Example said...

Ah, brilliant film! Not brilliant as in "flawless", but as in hitting all the right notes with characters, their motivations, and ultimately, selling themselves so well to the audience. Walsh posing with the recently stolen FBI badge... His daughter handing him the money, and his "I'll pay it back to you"... The Duke's hungry look when he's pondering the chorizo and eggs breakfast... Dorfler falling again and again for Walsh's dumb ruse ("LOOK OUT, MARVIN, BEHIND YOU!")... Too good!

Tman said...

Jack Walsh: "Where am I? I'm in Boise, Idaho; no, no, no, wait a minute: I'm in Anchorage, Alaska. No, no, wait: I'm in Casper, Wyoming; I'm in the lobby of a Howard Johnson's and I'm wearing a pink carnation."

Jonathan Mardukas: "You're OK, Jack. I think... under different circumstances you and I probably still would have hated each other!"



So many great lines. I still wonder why this movie wasn't a bigger hit. Thanks for the memories, this is easily in my top five!

Gish said...

Absolutely my favorite movie of the Eighties and certainly in my top ten. Just had the pleasure of picking this up on HD-DVD. It is short on special features but beautiful to see.

The Danny Elfman score is amazing and I dearly wish he had done more like it. Even though he is using a blues band, he gives each character their own theme. Can't think of any other examples of that. Elfman also wrote lyrics to the main theme that I believe were included on the soundtrack album. Brest refused to use them because he wanted to distance himself from the pop music soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop. The song was later rerecorded by Oingo Boingo and released on the album Dark at the End of the Tunnel. You can check out the lyrics here...

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/o/oingo+boingo/try+to+believe_20102752.html

Tom said...

Marvelous post, Alan. I especially like your observation that a younger DeNiro would have been a good match for a Raymond Chandler gig. Daydreaming potential Marlowes has always been a noir-geek pastime of mine. Right now, I'm thinking Jon "Mad Men" Hamm has GOT to play Marlowe sooner or later. Anway, thanks for a thoughtful review of an old favorite.

Gish said...

Whoops...
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/o/oingo+boingo/try+to
+believe_20102752.html

Gish said...

Not sure how to make that link work, so here are the lyrics...

Well I wish real hard when I close my eyes
If I could change the world--would I even try
If I found a reason to regain my pride
Oh if I try to believe--try to believe

Chorus
Its so hard to find an answer
Its so hard to stand alone
Its so hard to find a feeling
That was buried long ago
Its so hard to trust another
When its easier to hide
Its so hard to believe
Unless we try baby try

If I had a dream and it got away
If I found the words would I know what to say
If I had a chance to be someone else
Yeah if I try to believe, try to believe

Chorus

If I found a door Ive never been through
Would I have the courage to go in without you
(try to believe)
And if time runs short would I recognize
The things I couldnt see
If I try to believe--try to believe

If we listen to the voices that were silent for so long
If you thought they went away, well you couldnt be more wrong
If I tell you there is something that weve lost but can retrieve
If I tell you there is hope, if we try to believe
You remember theres a dream that we long since put aside
With the toys that we discarded
And the tears we never cried
We could have had it once again, if we try baby try

Joel said...

Great choice, Alan. Midnight Run is one of my all-time favorite movies, and one of those that I can't turn away from if I see it on TV. I love it for all the reasons you stated in the review, but I think I continue to love it for the initial reaction I had to it when I saw it in the theater: "DeNiro can do *that*?"

Even though I was only 17 at the time (god, I'm three years older than you, Alan? Why does that make me suddenly feel very old?), I was a burgeoning film buff, so I came away from the theater marveling at how Robert DeNiro, a guy that I always thought of as a Serious Actor(tm) could do such a great job with such comedic, even farcical, material. The "fistaphobia" line is the one I remember best from that initial viewing, and it's delivered with such great timing that a first-time movie goer might think that DeNiro was a comedian instead of the guy who played Travis Bickle only 12 years before.

For the young 'uns who've seen Bobby D. in Meet the Parents or Analyze This, the novelty of seeing DeNiro in a pure comedy is lost on them, but to me, it was an event. If DeNiro had decided to go into comedy rather than drama sometime around 1971, he probably would have been just as big a star (though he wouldn't have had the two Oscars he brought to Midnight Run).

Upon further viewings, the rest of what made the movie so great: Grodin, of course (Who can forget his deadpan, eye-rolling line, "Oh, I'm sure we're completely safe," when Walsh prematurely thinks they've lost the people chasing them during one action scene), Dennis Farina (he seems to alternate between gangster and police roles, doesn't he? It's hard to believe the ex-cop has built a 20+ year acting career on essentially the same role), and Yaphett Koto.

My least favorite part has always been Marvin. Not because of John Ashton; I liked him in "Beverly Hills Cop" (the film that Brest directed before this one) and I like him here. He just seemed like the unnecessary monkey wrench thrown in to temporarily separate Walsh and the Duke before the movie's climactic scene. There was more than enough going on; we didn't need this uninspired character gumming up the works.

To bring up a recent post: Alan, you think Superbad is going to be on your desert island list eventually? I saw it last night and loved it; so well acted -- Michael Cera is going to be a big star someday -- and so many repeatable lines, it seems like the type of movie that will wear well upon repeated viewings.

Dark Tyler said...

Hold on, did someone say that Al Pacino was randomly screaming in "Heat"...?

He is one of the reasons I can't stand "Scent", and he's been nothing but noise for something like 15 years, except for when he's in Michael Mann's films. (But then again, Mann has never got anything but grand performances from every actor he's ever worked with.)

"Zero Effect". What a frakking cool movie! Jake Kasdan is the reason I originally watched "The O.C.": thought it has something to do with this.

And isn't "Ferris Bueller" the ultimate John Hughes movie or what? Every single theme that ever ran through a Hughes movie, it's right there in Ferris. Totally seconding the love!

dez said...

(But then again, Mann has never got anything but grand performances from every actor he's ever worked with.)

Except William L. Petersen, who only slightly less than wooden in "Manhunter," bleah.

TooLazyToRegister said...

Haven't seen Midnight Run in years - must...Netflix...now!

For me, the two movies that I will stop whatever I'm doing and watch whenever I notice they are on: My Cousin Vinny and Glengarry Glen Ross. They couldn't be more different, and neither would make my list of "best" movies, but I love 'em both.

Craig said...

In the ex-wife scene, there's a nice moment where, as they are leaving, DeNiro opens the car door for Grodin, then tucks the trail of Grodin's coat inside before shutting the door, just as he might have done for his wife when they were together.

JG said...

Sometimes you just have to let go. Just get yourself a new watch...

Rover said...

Alan:

Beautiful call. The Committee (one member in particular) quoted the "here come two for you" line so often in conversation that I rented the movie. Great flick.

Congratulations, Kroger. You're at the top of the Delta pledge class.

jim treacher said...

Well, let's not go overboard on De Niro's untapped potential as a comedy star. "We're No Angels," anybody?

jim treacher said...

Hey, do you guys know anything about the series of made-for-TV sequels, with Christopher McDonald as Jack Walsh?

http://imdb.com/name/nm0303032/

Randy said...

I *love* Midnight Run. It's infinitely quotable to someone else who knows the movie, it's got so many great scenes, and on top of two great actors with buddy chemistry in the lead, it's got character actors doing some of their best, most memorable work as well.

The only reason I don't own this movie on DVD is that I've been holding out for some kind of special edition with extras. But I've been wanting to rewatch this for a while, and this article inspired me to fire up the Tivo and find that, hooray, Midnight Run is on HBO sometime this week.

I think I originally taped this off HBO, and I must have watched it over and over dozens of times.

Ben said...

Hey, do you guys know anything about the series of made-for-TV sequels, with Christopher McDonald as Jack Walsh?

What more do you need to know than "Christopher McDonald as Jack Walsh?"

Gish said...

I remember trying to watch one of those Midnight Run TV Movies. Bland as you would imagine. It was an interesting experiment, Universal decided to make a series of 2 hour syndicated movies based on various franchises. I remember there were a couple of Smokey and the Bandit movies as well. The only real success was that this was where the Kevin Sorbo Hercules series began.

filmcricket said...

"[Pacino] is one of the reasons I can't stand "Scent", and he's been nothing but noise for something like 15 years, except for when he's in Michael Mann's films."

I dunno. My family and I were watching "The Insider" and my sister came in the front door, heard the yelling and said "Oh, an Al Pacino film." IMO the subtlest work he's done in years was in "Glengarry Glen Ross" but then again I haven't seen that version of "Merchant of Venice" that he did.

"And isn't "Ferris Bueller" the ultimate John Hughes movie or what? Every single theme that ever ran through a Hughes movie, it's right there in Ferris."

Except the issue of class and cliques. Cameron's a bit of a weirdo, sure, but he's obviously very rich and he's best friends with the most popular guy in school. Aside from Edie McClurg's wonderful litany of all the groups who love Ferris (geeks, sluts, bluts, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads...), it's not really addressed, and it's a major theme in most of his other movies: "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "The Breakfast Club," etc.

jim treacher said...

I kind of like Christopher McDonald... Anyway, I remember the Bandit movies and of course Hercules, but I can't even remember any ads for the Midnight Run ones.

Steve said...

My desert island number one is a strange one - Cameron Crowe's Singles. I wouldn't call it a great movie, or hell, even one of Crowe's best movies, but I watch it pretty much whenever it's on tv and probably pop in the DVD at least once a year.

It's interesting you mentioned that you saw Midnight Run at 14, because I taped Singles off a free HBO weekend when I was in 9th grade. That year, we got a lot of snow where I grew up, and subsequently had a ton of snow days. I wore out that tape that winter.

I'm also enjoying your F&G rewind, as that is my other desert island must-have. I like to look at it as the best 13-hour movie ever made about high school.

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