Thursday 16 December 2021

Movie Review: Into The Night (1985)

A crime comedy, Into The Night is an uneven mix of cool vibe, slapstick humour, and violence.

In Los Angeles, aerospace engineer Ed Okin (Jeff Goldblum) is suffering from severe insomnia. Already unhappy at work and unsatisfied in his marriage, he finds out his wife is cheating on him. Taking the advice of work colleague Herb (Dan Aykroyd), Ed heads to the airport in the middle of the night to catch a flight to Las Vegas for some unwinding.

But at the airport parkade, the frantic Diana (Michelle Pfeiffer) bursts into his car as she flees a group of assassins. Ed helps her escape, and gets embroiled in her wild adventure of stolen emeralds involving rich Hollywood executive Jack Caper (Richard Farnsworth) and his wife Joan (Vera Miles), French crime boss Monsieur Melville (Roger Vadim) and his ruthless henchman Colin Morris (David Bowie), Iranian intelligence officer Shaheen (Irene Papas) and her four incompetent assassins, and an FBI agent (Clu Gulager).

Directed by John Landis and written by Ron Koslow, Into The Night offers plenty to enjoy. Sparkling nighttime cinematography by Robert Paynter captures glistening Los Angeles locations, while the smooth Ira Newborn music soundtrack featuring B.B. King is excellent. The overall mood is of why-not absurdity, the fakery of the city and the artifice of the movie industry a metaphorical justification for anything goes.

Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer also nail their roles, shallow as they are. Goldblum embraces the zonked-out-by-insomnia stance and rides it well from start to finish, while Pfeiffer keeps Diana's effervescence just far enough away from irritating to remain sympathetic. And one cool Cadillac elegantly graces the screen.

The plot is less impressive. The emerald theft triggering all the running around is a rudimentary device, and the strain of prolonging the adventure is obvious as ever more random villains and characters are thrown into the pile. Landis and Koslow struggle to find reasons for Ed and Diana to continue their madcap escapades together, Ed in particular oscillating with an exasperating lack of logic between bailing and getting deeper involved.  

If the narrative goes stale, a distracting spot-the-celebrity-cameo game is available. Almost every minor role is occupied by a well-known movie director, the likes Paul Mazursky, David Cronenberg, Jonathan Demme, Don Siegel, Amy Heckerling, Jim Henson, Colin Higgins and Daniel Petrie all making appearances. 

Co-existing sometimes uncomfortably, bursts of humour and violence provide jolts of energy. The comedy is low-brow and the murders bloody, as Into The Night meanders between bright lights and muddled shadows.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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