We’re in the 4th and final week of Ultimate 80s Blogathon! Time just flies when you’re having a great time. Next up to kick off the final week is Paul S over at Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies. I’ve never met anyone quite as knowledgeable as him when it comes to Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer. These two ladies happen to be also two of my favorite actresses. Its no surprise it is through one of the reviews of possibly a Meg movie that met Paul and knew about his fantastic site. If you want to read about movies and roles and performances of these two outstanding actresses, you can’t go wrong with heading over to Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies. Paul will be hosting the Meg and Michelle’s March Blogathon. You can find the details HERE.
The 1980s. The carefree days of my youth and a decade that spawned so many classic films, from Raging Bull and Raiders of the Lost Ark, to The Fabulous Baker Boys and When Harry Met Sally…. I’ve spent the last few days scouring my DVD collection, trying in vain to select a favourite from the decade, ultimately finding I couldn’t choose between Innerspace and Tequila Sunrise.
Innerspace is often compared to 1966’s Fantastic Voyage for obvious reasons, but Innerspace is no run-of-the-mill remake. Whereas Voyage featured the simple narrative of a team of doctors treating a patient from the inside, Innerspace is more of an absurd, over-plotted movie, but it is endlessly entertaining. A convoluted comedy of errors in a Silicon Valley setting.
The story follows Jack Putter (Martin Short), a hypochondriac who works at a supermarket. His mundane life is turned upside down when a man in a lab coat appears out of nowhere, jabs a hypodermic needle into his posterior, before promptly dying. What Jack doesn’t know is that the doctor was part of a top-secret project in which a willing subject, Lieutenant Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is sealed in a submersible and miniaturized, in order to study a rabbit from the inside. Instead, he’s been placed inside Jack, to prevent a gang of corporate thieves from getting their hands on the miniaturization chip.
Tuck knows his freedom depends on Jack breaking out of his malaise, and so he becomes a new voice inside Jack’s head, one that tells him to take risks instead of wallowing in worry. Complications ensue, most of them involving Tuck’s beautiful, estranged girlfriend Lydia, played by a gun toting Meg Ryan. She sparks an odd, amiably original love triangle, when Jack inevitably falls for her, even though he knows Tuck is eavesdropping on every move he makes.
In the sweet-and-sultry-blonde sweepstakes of the late 1980s, Meg was emerging as Michelle Pfeiffer’s only rival, and here she elevates a character who could have been as much of a MacGuffin in the story as the microchips. She’s utterly cute and tenacious, so it’s no wonder Lydia becomes a bone of contention between Jack and Tuck, as the latter begins to truly realise how much she means to him.
Aside from a dubious plot point where Tuck is transported back and forth between bodies by the mechanism of a romantic kiss, director Joe Dante effortlessly guides the film from science fiction to action to comedy to romance, assisted by Sam Cooke’s wonderful Cupid and the undeniable chemistry of the cast. Remarkable when one of them isn’t in the same room for most of the film.
Tequila Sunrise (1988)
Directed by Robert Towne, of Chinatown fame, Tequila Sunrise also features an all-star late-80s cast. Semi-retired drug dealer Mac (Mel Gibson) and his old friend, policeman Nick (Kurt Russell) go back a long way, and share a healthy dose of rivalry, brought to the fore when they cross paths with the stunning form of Jo Ann Valenari (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Tequila Sunrise provides plenty of twists and turns, audacious supporting performances from J.T. Walsh and Raul Julia, and some gorgeous silhouetted sunset shots. As with Innerspace, the plot is convoluted, but that only reinforces the prominence of its photogenic stars, as they deliver endlessly quotable dialogue and share some epic, drenched 80’s kissing scenes. Besamé Mucho!
The Pfeiffer-Russell kiss happens first, on a rainy night in a dingy wine cellar. Restaurateur Pfeiffer is trying to move a barrel from beneath a leaking roof and tells Russell she doesn’t need his help as he might get dirty. Russell ignores her warning and starts to move the barrel himself, but the pressure from the leak builds up and unleashes a torrent, completely soaking him. Cue the saxophone music as Russell grabs Pfeiffer and they passionately kiss. The scene fades out.
Later in the film Gibson’s Mac and Pfeiffer’s Jo Ann have their “moment.” During small talk Pfeiffer makes a comment and Gibson takes offense, so Michelle apologises. Now it’s Gibson’s turn to be embarrassed, so he proceeds to gently kiss Pfeiffer and before you know it the soft-rock music swells again and they’re destined for the hot-tub.
As white sheets billow in the background, the camera slowly, voyeuristically works its way back to where the conversation was taking place. Suddenly, Mel and Michelle explode from the water in slow-motion, locked in a lustful embrace. They’re like a drowning man tasting air for the first time in days. Were they having a contest to see who could hold their breath longest? Or did they get lost in the hidden depths of the hot-tub? I still wonder!
We watch the liaison reflected in the water, their silhouetted figures masked by steam. Gibson stands and lifts Pfeiffer from the ground before pulling the white sheets down over their soaked bodies. It’s bizarre, but par for the course, given the decade.
Afterwards, Michelle spoon-feeds Gibson with yoghurt. (No, honestly.)
In true 1980’s style, the film ends with a freeze-frame. Once again Gibson and Pfeiffer are locked in a passionate clinch, and of course, they’re both soaking wet. Kurt Russell looks on as the odd man out, frozen in a moment when Michelle Pfeiffer lips were never more alluring, Mel Gibson’s eyes were never bluer, and those California sunsets were never hotter. It doesn’t get more 80s than this.