Year 8, Day 160 - 6/8/16 - Movie #2,359
BEFORE: Tonight Burt Reynolds has his mustache back - perhaps I should alternate the mustache films with the non-mustache films, but I'm horribly disorganized on this front. But we're getting into the crime films tonight, after a few more like this I'll get to a couple of Burt's comedies, then a little romance, and I'll finish off with a couple of Westerns. The man has just about done it all.
THE PLOT: Ernest 'Stick' Stickley returns from prison, and gets involved with his old friend in a drug-running deal that goes sour. Hired by a rich investor, he tries to walk the line, but trouble follows him throughout.
AFTER: Like the recently-watched "52 Pick-Up", this film is based on an Elmore Leonard novel, and I can see the similarities - low-level criminals trying to work their way up the chain, and the central character getting caught up in a double-cross/blackmail situation, forcing him to play all these different angles to get some leverage on the bad guys, or perhaps turn them against each other. Like crime takes place in a desert full of constantly shifting sands...tonight drug dealers become double-crossers and killers, and eventually kidnappers.
And some people have made action-thrillers out of Elmore Leonard stories, and other people have made comedies out of them, because they seem to walk that fine line between the dangerous and the ridiculous. Like Charles Durning's weird wig/hairpiece, that's very ridiculous. It looks almost like woman's hair, what were they trying to say about that character?
Unfortunately the plot feels sort of half-written - or half-directed, and Burt Reynolds also served as director here. Why did the drug deal not go down as planned, what was the reason for it failing? Why was the hit-man involved in the drug deal in the first place? Who masterminded the killings, was it Chucky or Nestor? For that matter, why did Chucky even need Stick and Raimy to deliver the money, why not have Moke the albino do it, if he was going to be there anyway?
Maybe it's the 80's setting in Florida, but this felt almost like a low-rent "Miami Vice" episode, minus the fashions and the cool music. Apparently the movie studio asked for a ton of reshoots on the second half of this film, so that could mean that it was even harder to understand at one point. The subplot with Stick reuniting with his daughter seems to be one of the late additions, which I think was a good call, because it's one of the few things that makes him a sympathetic character. Otherwise, he's just an ex-con looking to score, instead of a father trying to fly straight and re-connect with her.
I think my favorite part might have been when the film producer was trying to get investment money from a room full of mobsters, and Candice Bergen's character, who knows a thing or two about financial investments, totally calls him on his B.S. I'm sure that most movie investment opportunities are nothing but smoke and mirrors, leveraging one pile of money against another - but that guy had no intention of paying any money back. Would you double-cross the MOB when it comes to investments? You might get away with that, for all of five minutes, before they'll end up owning your entire production company.
Also starring Candice Bergen (also carrying over from "Starting Over"), Charles Durning (ditto), George Segal (last seen in "Love & Other Drugs"), José Perez, Richard Lawson (last seen in "Coming Home"), Dar Robinson, Castulo Guerra, Sachi Parker, with a cameo from Alex Rocco (last heard in "Batman: Year One").
RATING: 4 out of 10 bottles of Campari