Saturday, January 1, 2011
PLAIN CLOTHES (1988)
Directed By: Martha Coolidge
Written By: Scott Frank
Story By: Scott Frank & Dan Vining
Cinematography By: Daniel Hainey
Editor: Patrick Kennedy & Edward M. Abroms
Cast: Arliss Howard, Suzy Amis, Diane Ladd, Seymour Cassel, Larry Pine, Jackie Gayle, Robert Stack, Abe Vigoda, Peter Dobson, Loren Dean, Harry Shearer, Max Perelich, Reginald Vel Johnson. George Wendt,
This is a a nostalgic trip for me watching this film. I ended up loing this film as a youngster when I first saw it. Watching it now of course it is quite dated and appears to have a had a low budget but it’s a quirky winner that actually charms you into liking the film despite it’s flaws.
This film surprised me because it was going against another film that had a similar idea of a grown man going to high school undercover. The other film had Jon Cryer starring in it. So the choice was obviously HIDING OUT I mean it starred Ducky from PRETTY IN PINK. Unfortunately that film which advertised itself as a comedy took a more serious route and it was a dramatic thriller with comedic elements. Like a really bad episode of 21 JUMP STREET. This film was more like a more comedic episode of 21 JUMP STREET which I am not afraid to admit is one of my favorite television shows of all time.
Plain clothes plot is a cop who works undercover is always mistaken for being underage so when his brother is accused and arrested for murder he goes undercover at his brothers high school to solve the murder of course crazy hi jinks ensue.
Luckily the film is not a teen comedy or brain dead. The comedy comes off more as character comedy and the misunderstanding of the generations. Though Arliss howard as the lead is good he looks too old to be a believable teenager. This film came out during the late 80’s where it wasn’t as easy for filmmakers to really define and group teenagers styles and customs. Sure john Hughes did it a few years earlier but the culture was changing even Hughes was having a hard time look at SOME KID OF WONDERFUL as much as I love it, it was getting harder to define teenagers. This film suffered that so that the culture it was trying to satirize was all over the place but the few truths teenage life will always hold was portrayed.
The film was directed by Martha Coolidge who while not a Dazzler as a director can usually be counted on to deliver a good film.
The film works on many levels as a murder mystery and as a comedy. It also has a cast of big names. The film also introduced me to the world or e.e. cummings
I would highly recommend the film as a Rental I don’t know if it came out on DVD officially but if it did it is worth owning if even for nostalgia of a by gone era.