Saturday, March 28, 2015

THINNER (1996)

Directed By: Tom Holland 
Written By: Tom Holland & Michael McDowell 
Based On The Novel By: Stephen King 
Cinematography By: Kees Von Oostrum 
Editor: Marc Laub 

Cast: Robert John Burke, Joe Mantagena, Lucinda Jenney, Kari Wurher, Michael Constanine, Bethany Joy Lenz, Howard Erskine

A fat Lawyer finds himself growing "Thinner" when an old gypsy man places a hex on him. Now the lawyer must call upon his friends in organized crime to help him persuade the gypsy to lift the curse. Time is running out for the desperate lawyer as he draws closer to his own death, and grows ever thinner.

Something about this movie never quite fit, To make it entirely satisfying. It feels like it has an interesting premise then goes off the rails rather quickly. Expecting the audience to follow as they have already followed some of the more implausible story elements this far. Yes we have, but at least there was a certain dramatic tone to go with the story and it’s elements. As this film goes along it feels like it’s changes so much and uses it’s early scenes as an excuse to go there.

The plain direction doesn't help as the tone changes wildly from satiric to comic to outrageous, campy, over the top and genuinely scary.

Understand that the intention is to present it's story as normal. Which makes these wild forays much more nightmare inducing. It throws the film off.

It has an interesting premise in that it doesn't present anyone as truly innocent. The main character is guilty though he didn't mean to and as the film continues we get to know him and not only see his desperation, but what he is truly going through. Pain both physical and mental as he tries to reverse his curse.

First innocently then forcefully. There is nary a character who is likeable. The only thing you can say is they are not as bad as some others. Other then the premise there is truly only one horrifying sequence which takes place between him and the judge on his case after seeing what the judges curse has done to him.

I like the film, but don't love it. It is a more textured TALES FROM THE CRYPT tale. That at times is rather silly then at others tries to be poignant. The film truly makes you think especially in it's last 15 minutes is a justified considering all he has went through.

I remember reading about this film when I used to collect all movie magazines and I first started reading Fangoria which I remember raving about the film. So of course I was excited to see it when it came out in theaters. I went with my uncle even then I still felt Stephen King stories could be hit or miss, but this one sounded so juicy dealing with horror, morals, implications and decisions more or less that I thought would blow my mind. I saw the film and watching it I was a bit disappointed but couldn't tell if I liked it or not and I would constantly flip flop over the years until re-watching it recently. Yes at times it's bland, but the one thing that has stayed constant in my mind is that Robert John Burke gives a hell of a good lead performance , very affecting and very real. Tortured throughout. If only he had chances at more of them. Through he has become a fine character actor.

Joe Mantegna gives an over the top yet fun performance as a friendly mobster. He is practically the comic relief. Though he does seem more like he is playing an Italian stereotype like a thinner live action version of his character fat tony on THE SIMPSONS. This seems like a performance that is an audition for an action film almost as Mantegna has never seemed as energetic and alive as in this role. I really wished his character had a spin off movie. Him and Robert John Burke in this film seem to have a cop buddy film relationship all their own.

Dino De Laurentiis originally sought to produce this film in 1986 after completing MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, another Stephen King adaptation and sought to have Sam Raimi direct, Scott Spiegel write and 'Bob Tapert' produce but they were busy with writing Evil Dead II, which De Laurentiis would eventually produce. Interesting to imagine what they would unleash if ever made.

I can't forget Kari Wurher who is a decent actress who seems to be here more for a hint of T and a there is no nudity mind you, but she gives the film maximum sexiness and cleavage.

I believe the film is a satisfying rental and I believe the film has the right cast. It just is a film that could use some major improvements. Other then that.

Rooted in stereotypes that the film at least acknowledges to be true. It picks on a random racial group to stereotype and paint as the villains.

It should be noted Director Tom Holland wasn't happy with the ending; the producers changed the original one (which was faithful to the novel) because every test audience hated it.

For all of it's elements the film never grabs the audience as other then Robert John Burke's performance once he is allowed out of the fat suit and make-up (Which seems silly and distracting rather than scary) as it goes along and feels glossy. It's a b-movie that contains a Oscar caliber dramatic performance. 


No comments: