Saturday, April 3, 2010

Night Moves

I think it was Mr. Peel who got me to queue up Into the Night, John Landis' 1985 comedy-thriller starring Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer. I see it as the perfect Mr. Peel movie, touching his love of LA, the 80s, John Landis, movie music, and above all, movies.

Jeff Goldblum plays an aerospace engineer with a boring life and bad insomnia. His co-worker, Dan Akroyd, suggests that he should just go out to the airport, and fly to Las Vegas. Everyone there stays up all night anyway, and he could be back before anyone notices. When Goldblum tries to take this advice, he runs into Michelle Pfeiffer, who is fleeing from Iranian hitmen. And the game is afoot.

The midnight adventures are wide-ranging and fun - through cheap apartments of gay Elvis impersonators, to movie sets, yachts, Beverly Hills hotels and mansions, Malibu Beach pads and the LA Airport. I don't think the movie would have held up as just a chase, though. It's pretty loosely held together, and may not even make sense if you look too closely.

What holds it together are Goldblum and Pfeiffer. He's a mixed up guy, groggy from sleep deprivation and not too fast on his feet, but dependable, loyal and trustworthy. Pfeiffer is a very realistic party girl, a model and professional mistress, living in the world of money and luxury, but not of it. She doesn't exactly use Goldblum, she asks for his help. She doesn't try to seduce him, and he doesn't fall for her. It's a nice dynamic, one that movies have been known to wreck by forcing a romance.

Pfeiffer's classic 80's red leather jacket doesn't hurt things, either.

I would say, these two and the midnight chase through LA (actually, more like 48 hours) would be enough. But wait! That's not all! Landis seems to have a habit of giving cameos to fellow filmmakers. IMDB says there are 17, including himself and Frank Oz, who is paged at the airport. I recognized a few, but only because so many directors have beards. So if a minor character has a beard, I figure: director.

Also, David Bowie appears as a detective, and Carl Perkins as a bodyguard. And they fight to the death! B.B. King on the soundtrack is just frosting on this confection. (Actually, when the synthesizer kicked the theme song off, I thought it was going to be all cheesy New Wave. I might have even been disappointed when it wasn't.)

Fun movie, highly recommended. Thanks Mr. Peel. If you're reading, check back next time for a film you might enjoy, 1990's Love at Large.

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