Monday, April 19, 2010
Night Shift (1982)
A nebbish of a morgue attendant gets shunted back to the night shift where he is shackled with an obnoxious neophyte partner who dreams of the "one great idea" for success. His life takes a bizarre turn when a prostitute neighbor complains about the loss of her pimp. His partner, upon hearing the situation, suggests that they fill that opening themselves using the morgue at night as their brothel. Against his better judgement, he gets talked into the idea, only to find that it's more than his boss that has objections to this bit of entrepreneurship.
What can you expect when you rent a comedy that's 25+ years old? Well, lot's of formula and cliche. Essentially this film is about a guy who hates being a Stock Broker so he takes a job at the City Morgue and lives a miserable existence with a fiance he has to almost beg to make love to him. She is obsessed with her weight and bored by their intimacy to the point of sneaking a snack during sex. Winkler's character is every eighties wimp cliche possible. He's a worry-wart who has the quality that's going to save him and all of the people he ultimately begins to care about as the film thunders on. Michael Keaton plays the character that got him typecast for the next decade as an over the top wild eyed 'party animal' with little to no brains and a penchant for getting his friends into messes that his loud mouth antics only make worse. Shelley Long plays the worlds most unbelieveable prostitute but exudes that great charm she always manages to bring to her characters. She is Shelley Long after all, and in the 80's she was made of gold. What makes the film funny is the idea. Guys hate their jobs at the Morgue, Winkler's neighbor, the prostitue played by Long, has lost her pimp (he was offed at the beginning of the film) and the guys decide to take over as pimps using Winkler's business saavy to bring in the money. It's a funny film with lots of great moments but it's not great overall. I liked it but would recommend that if you watch it, you be in a particularly brainless sort of mood where you don't want to watch something that will make you ponder anything but an immediate laugh. The inevitable romance between Long and Winkler is comic and a bit sappy and you can see where Adam Sandler got the 'everything works out' cliche for ALL of his films from.
This movie has some charming and funny moments, but Ron Howard's direction seems more suited for television. This is one of Howard's early films and has since improved. The chemistry between Winkler and Keaton is a lot of fun to watch.