Sunday 30 April 2017

Movie Review: The Man With One Red Shoe (1985)

A bland comedy set in the domestic spy world, The Man With One Red Shoe is about nothing in particular and struggles to define a purpose.

In Morocco, CIA Deputy Director Cooper (Dabney Coleman), who covets the top job, sabotages an undercover drug operation and embarrasses CIA Director Ross (Charles Durning). Back in Washington DC, Ross is forced to testify before a Senate subcommittee, but plots his revenge against Cooper. Knowing that Cooper is tracking his every move, Ross dispatches loyal ally Brown (Edward Herrman) to the airport to liaise with a complete stranger.

Brown picks violinist Richard Drew (Tom Hanks) at random, and their brief interaction sets Cooper and his crew on a wild goose chase to find out why Drew is important. Drew is actually the victim of frequent pranks by orchestra percussionist Morris (Jim Belushi), and in return Drew is having an affair with Morris' wife Paula (Carrie Fisher). Otherwise Drew is a normal everyday guy, but Cooper's surveillance kicks into overdrive, including mobilizing the luscious agent Maddy (Lori Singer) to seduce Drew and learn his secrets.

Directed by Stan Dragoti, The Man With One Red Shoe is a remake of the 1972 French film Le Grand Blond Avec Une Chaussure Noire starring Pierre Richard. The Hollywood version enjoys slick production value and a strong cast including a young Tom Hanks, but the jokes (if they exist at all) are lame, the story is unengaging, and a void exists where meaningful plot elements and substantive characters are supposed to reside.

Drew is an innocent bystander and remains a most uninteresting central character, and Hanks can do nothing with role. Jim Belushi tries too hard as the immature friend still pulling high school level pranks, while Carrie Fisher gets one long scene in fetching leopard lingerie in a nod to her Return Of The Jedi slave outfit, but otherwise drifts aimlessly in and mostly out of the film.

Cooper and Ross contribute most of the narrative drivers in an astonishingly dreadful spy versus spy battle. Neither man is remotely likable, and who wins or who loses their petty careerist battle generates the flimsiest foundation for comedy. While Dabney Coleman and Charles Durning are fine supporting actors, they cannot carry the weight of the plot or the laughs. Lori Singer nails the role of the seductress and gets to wear a contender for the most stunning backless dress paraded on screen. She also owns the best laugh with a caught-in-the-zipper moment.

The Man With One Red Shoe doesn't so much run out of original ideas; it never had any in the first place.

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