It’s official: I’ve discovered the most forgotten mainstream film of all time. That distinction rests with the 1985 film “After Hours“. I discovered it perusing the Netflix Instant Play library. The summary sounded intriguing:
“Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) embarks on a trip to New York City’s SoHo district in hopes of hooking up with a recent acquaintance, the beautiful Marcy Franklin (Rosanna Arquette). But Paul loses all his money, and just to get back home he must endure a night of kooks, psychotics, punks and an angry mob trying to kill him.”
Whoa, so like, his whole night just unravels and gets crazier and crazier? I love movies like that!! The downward spiral that takes place over one single piece of time! Well, the movie is most certainly crazy. But the “dark” seems to overcompensate loudly for the “comedy”. It’s strange to watch a film vacuum any humor out of its various situations. There’s suicide, awkward meet-ups with the opposite sex, punk parties, all the wacky stuff that gets punctuated by a night alone in a New York City neighborhood. And yet…nothing the characters do makes any damn sense! Awkward scene after awkward scene between people play out, all the while you’re thinking, “Who would do that?” or “There’s a really simple way to get out of this situation”. Kinda like watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, except EVERYONE is Larry David or weirder. There ain’t a single “regular” person there to contrast the weirdness.
Maybe this movie was created in another, weirder dimension and was accidentally shipped to this one. Although that’d be tough, since the director was (get this) none other than (you ready?) Martin freakin Scorsese!!! In know, right?! There are certain shots that are very indicative of his work, like quick push-ins and long, long, looooong takes in a scene. But they really don’t add anything to the story; they stand out like sore thumbs, mainly because the rest of the pacing, acting, and shot composition are so slowly-paced. This came off as a practice film; each scene had waaaay too much air. And the truckloads of cameos didn’t help (although it does feature both parents from Home Alone…and Cheech…and Chong).
Ideally, a dark comedy should make me feel sly or mischievous, like I’ve gotten away with something. Instead I felt as weirded-out as the protagonist…but maybe that was the idea? There are way too many “but maybe’s” when I reflect on this movie. Perhaps it would have fared better under its original director, Tim Burton (yes, really). He really had a knack for weird, dark, 80s cult comedies. And those were actually funny.
Gawd, even the TRAILER’S pace is saggy.