Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nowhere Man

Memoirs of an Invisible Man is far less a John Carpenter movie, and far more a Chevy Chase. We don't get much of the signature Carpenter low-budget off-kilter silly horror. Instead, we get a lot of Chevy Chase mugging lovably.

Chase plays a disengaged moneyman in the go-go 90s, daydreaming and drifting along, until he meets Darryl Hannah and falls in love. Before this relation can go anywhere, he is rendered invisible in a massive lab accident. Cute point - he is rendered invisible while dressed, so his clothes are invisible too. This is pretty convenient, because the camera's point of view can sometimes see him, and he doesn't have to go nude.

Of course, rogue CIA agents are after him (head rogue, Sam Neill), so he has to go underground. The middle of the movie concerns the problems of invisible life - people bump into you, cabs won't stop for you, food is visible in your stomach until it's digested (and it's disgusting), etc. This section shows the most promise, in my mind. Chase is disoriented, hungry, helpless - and it's funny.

The latter portion is devoted to him getting together with Hannah, and getting away from Neill. It's not done badly, but a little rote, by the numbers. The romance isn't that romantic - Hannah is beautiful, but a little underwritten. The action/suspense part is pretty weak, too. Come on, he's invisible, there's got to be something fun he can do with it, even against the CIA.

Also, Chase is not a lovable as he perhaps thinks he is. This is the patented Chevy Chase of Caddyshack or Fletch: a smug, smirky, devil-may-care wisecracker with a heart of gold. I think it works better for Bill Murray. Mostly, he seems like an entitled yuppie.

Anyway, there are some laughs - The scene where he uses a passed out drunk like a puppet to get a cab is inspired. The movie could have used a lot more of that.

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