Back By Midnight Movie Review

I suppose Rodney Dangerfield is as ripe as any other celebrity for exploitation in death. So here's one of his last films, shot in 2002, and hustled out on DVD.

Lord knows you couldn't release this thing theatrically. With the triple threat of Dangerfield, Randy Quaid, and Kirstie Alley above the title, I can't imagine anyone paying $10 to see this in a theater where they can't fast-forward or go to the bathroom to vomit. Well, OK, it's not that bad, but high art this is not.

Written by Dangerfield, the film tells the story of a minimum security prison warden (Dangerfield) who asks the prison's owner (Quaid) for fix-up funds. He's summarily fired (Quaid wants to sell out to another company run by Alley), so for revenge, Rodney concocts a plan to have his inmates rob Quaid's chain of appliance superstores, with all the booty being returned to the prison.

This rickety setup is really just an excuse for laughs -- with the cast going to outrageous lengths to set up jokes that almost always fall flat. Nell Carter (intriguingly, this is her second-to-last film as well) plays a put-upon diner waitress where she has to play the straight man against innumerable "chicken" jokes and absurd dining escapades, often with a midget.

This is of course the kind of humor that Dangerfield specialized in, juvenile gags without a point, but surprisingly it's not the worst part of the film. With Rodney, you kind of expected the jokes to be lame and silly, and he's clearly just being himself. The worst of the film is actually Alley, who puts on an awful, awful Robin Leach accent for some unknown reason and is alternately seen herding around a pet monkey and having sexcapades with Quaid while dressed up in a sort of dominatrix/prisoner getup.

Sorry folks, I thought this was a comedy, not a horror film.


Comments

Back By Midnight Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2002

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