For as popular as this film seems to be, I probably never would have heard of it if it wasn't for a Chris Farley sketch on SNL where he dubs it an "awesome flick" while "interviewing" Jeff Daniels, who plays the starring role here. Despite Farley's opinion, It was never really on my list of things to do. However, recently, someone in my life recommended it for my "romantic comedy" catch-up theme, so I finally decided to check it out.
The film really hits the ground running, as it introduces us to Charlie Driggs (Daniels); an uptight investment banker who skips out on a restaurant bill. Catching him in the act is the free-spirited Audrey Hankel (Melanie Griffith), calling herself "Lulu". Their confrontation ends on a friendly note, however, as she offers him a ride downtown. Instead of going downtown, though, she throws his beeper out of the car and heads for New Jersey while openly drinking and driving. While hesitant about all of this at first, Charlie soon finds himself falling for the free spirit, all culminating towards her taking him to her high school reunion, posing as her husband for the evening.
Things start to take a turn when Audrey's old flame Ray (Ray Liotta) runs into them at the reunion and isn't too keen on giving up what he once had with her. The whole thing sort of turns into loser vs bully for the woman's hand. As with most stories like this, the "loser" has to try to learn to be a bit more confident through trial and error as the woman takes him by the hand. Meanwhile, the bully is ultimately possessive, even if he acts kind of friendly to begin with. So, in my mind, I just feel like I've seen this sort of thing before. Whether or not it's been done better though; perhaps, but I have to admit that I still enjoyed this for what it was. If nothing else, I had fun with it.
I think what really helps this movie stand out from others like it is the somewhat surprising dark turn it takes towards the end. I might not consider this film as much a comedy as a light drama with comedic elements, but that part of it is the first two acts. When we get to the third act, it does sort of turn into a thriller of sorts, and the climax isn't entirely something one would expect. With that said, I can't say the surprise twists and turns were very shocking as we've pretty much come to expect Ray Liotta's face to be that of someone who will kick your ass into your own face if you so much as look at him the wrong way. I mostly know him as something of a "tough guy", so it's no surprise to me to see him "Goodfella" things up here.
About the only other thing I have to say about this is that it is very hard to find. This is one of those titles that may very well be fading into actual extinction, as according to 'JustWatch', you can find this on Hoopla (which I'm unfamiliar with), Tubi (with ads) and the Criterion Channel (which I didn't know was a thing). I managed with Tubi, but ads are SO annoying when they cut in so randomly. In saying that, I might not recommend looking too hard for this one, unless you're genuinely curious. I feel like it was something far more special for its time than for now. While I did have fun with it, it stands out as very "80s R" - sex, drugs, language and violence all there, but toned way down from what we have these days. If you have a Sunday afternoon to kill, check it out, you could have a good time.
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