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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Streets of Fire

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

#364: Streets of Fire (1984)

Oh.My.God.  This is the funniest non-comedy I’ve seen in a good long while.  It is “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fable” set in “Another place and another time”.  Starring the dude from Eddie and the Cruisers.  Yeah.  Let’s do this.

The Players:

Ellen Aim: Played by Diane Lane.  Ellen is a young, beautiful singer, who apparently in this made-up world is like a national treasure or something.  She’s in a relationship with her manager, and what little we get about her character, she is kind of a spoiled bitch.  She gets kidnapped, which is the catalyst for the story.

Billy Fish: Played by Rick Moranis, (a.k.a. my boyfriend).  He is an asshole.  That’s pretty much all you need.  A short, in love with money, pretentious asshole.  Love.

Tom Cody: Played by Michael Pare, otherwise known as Eddie Wilson from Eddie and the Cruisers.  He’s the hero, come to save his kidnapped girlfriend, and make a little money out of it.  Also, pretty sure Joss Whedon stole his wardrobe for Nathan Fillion on “Firefly”.

McCoy: Played by Amy Madigan.  She’s a former soldier who loves cars, meets Tom in a bar and tags along on his mission.  There’s theories on the internet that she is actually a lesbian, but some of the dialogue refutes that.  Most of that dialogue is voiceover, so there may have been initial intent that got changed during the editing process.

Reva Cody: Played by Deborah Van Valkenburgh.  She’s Tom’s sister who runs a diner and is the reason Tom came to town.

Raven Shaddock: Played by Willem Defoe.  He’s our villain, the leader of a gang called The Blasters.  He’s… well, he’s Willem Defoe, which is to say batshit crazy.  Love.

Also featured is Bill Paxton as a dumb rockabilly bartender, Lynne Thigpin has a scene (she was in yesterday’s entry on The Paper), and a few “Hey, it’s that guys!” guys.  I think?

OK, so here’s the rundown: Ellen Aim is giving some benefit concert that her boyfriend/manager Billy Fish is not very happy about because he’s not making any money, and he’s an asshole.  After the opening song (which sounds like it was rejected from any Meatloaf album ever put out, but still awesome and catchy as hell), Ellen gets kidnapped on stage.  Billy hilariously tries to get the mob off the stage and gets punched in the face, resulting in him sliding across and off the stage.  (Rick Moranis can’t not be funny).  So, of course, a fucking riot breaks out in the street, with people screaming at the gang on motorcycles to bring her back.  Close-up on Reva, who gets the brilliant idea to write her badass brother to go save the girl.  Enter Tom Cody, who doesn’t want to save his former honey.  But eventually relents after a minor altercation in a bar in which he picks up McCoy and then looks at an old picture of Ellen in his wallet.  But, he won’t do it for love or principles.  He wants cold, hard cash.  He meets up with Billy to make a deal, but the catch is that Billy, in his little bowtie, has to come with.  Billy doesn’t want to go – because, he’s an asshole.  The writing is just so subtle…
Anywhoo, McCoy comes along so she can get in on the cash, and serves as their driver.  They go down to the shittiest part of town to this weird-ass biker gay bar, where Ellen is being held by Raven.  Who is wearing what can only be described as overalls made out of trashbags.  WTF, Willem Defoe?  So, he’s keeping her tied to the bed, and his plan is to keep her as a sex slave for a week, then give her back.  Seriously? 
So, our rag-tag group of “heroes” go after her, and get her out.  Tom blows shit up, and Raven threatens that he will come after Ellen (and her little dog, too!), so the race is on!  They ditch their car, get a bus with a doo-wop group and Ellen’s biggest fan, blow more shit up, Billy behaves like an asshole some more, and eventually there is an anti-climactic fight between Raven and Tom.  Then there’s a big concert, where Billy is no longer an asshole for about a minute and a half (he signed the doo-wop group.  Didn’t see that coming) and Tom takes off because he’s… the loner hero?  He drives off into the sunset with his maybe-lesbian new best friend, and we are set up for the sequel that never happened.

This movie is ridiculous.  The acting is horrendous, which is surprising because the people in it are normally really good, so it’s either the script, the direction, or both.  I’m going with both.  The characters are as shallow as kiddie pools, and the story is basic.  But, the soundtrack is awesome, and Walter Hill (who served double-duty as co-writer and director) does an amazing job at creating this weird 1950s/1980s hybrid world. 

Decent Quotes:
“You’re dumb.  And you’re short.  Real short.” Random homeless dude to Billy Fish.  There actually were a lot of shots taken at him re: his height, which if in the original script might be why Rick Moranis was cast in this.  Because… yeah.

“They stole Ellen Aims” Reva to Tom.  Notice she didn’t say kidnapped.  Stole.  Ellen Aims is apparently property.

Yeah, that’s about it.  In fact, as I took my notes, one of my comments was “A little less conversation, a little more action, please?”  The dialogue is really, really bad, and for the most part, I feel like the actors are just phoning it in.  Which is a shame.  Because if this movie wasn’t trying to take itself seriously, they could have camped it up which would have made this made of all kinds of awesome.

I say check it out.  It’s a pretty quick hour and a half, and seriously, Rick Moranis as an asshole is always a treat. 

That’s all she wrote for today – tomorrow, something of actual quality.  That’s a Wrap!

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