Unseen and Not Heard (Memoirs of an Invisible Man, 1992)

Memoirs-Of-Invisible-Man-posterI think if there is a forgotten John Carpenter film…this is it.  Did you know that John Carpenter directed a movie with Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah?  Did you??

He almost didn’t, the film was being developed by Chase and he wanted Ivan Reitman…but he and Reitman were unable to agree on how things should go and Reitman left.  One of those rare “cannot get along with Chevy Chase” stories.  In fairness, Reitman wanted to make it a standard Chevy Chase vehicle, but Chase saw it as a chance to explore more serious roles.

Carpenter was brought in to provide that.  Of course, this was still meant to be a studio film, which in the end means the film takes no risks.

The story focuses on self absorbed Stock Analyst Nick Hollaway (Chase) who is present in a building where there is an experiment that goes awry.  In case you cannot see it coming *cough* he is left invisible.  (Sorry for that)  He soon finds himself on the run with new girlfriend Alice from shady CIA agent David Jenkins (Sam Neil…and not Carpenter’s last work with him).

The story is pretty standard fair with little of Carpenter’s originality.  Hollaway is on the run from the CIA who want to use him for spy stuff.

There are a lot of scenes where we see Chase onscreen when he is supposed to be invisible…and it gets almost confusing in the beginning…but later, while we can see Chase on screen, he casts no reflections.  The effects are remarkably good, and the most notable thing about the film.  They clearly put a lot of thought about how his invisibility works.  Nick and everything he was wearing are invisible…so he runs into the problem of not being able to see his hands or know exactly where they are when trying to eat.  He can see his food digesting when he looks in the mirror.  When he smokes, you see the smoke in his lungs.  Then there is a really neat scene where rain drops temporarily illuminate Nick in front of Alice.  In fact, the effects in this film hold up quite well almost twenty five years later.

You can see that Chase is trying for a darker type of role.  Chevy avoids his standard mugging for the camera.  And the film does not have a lot of jokes.  In fact, most of the jokes come from other characters.  But none of it is compelling.  The film just has no unique identity.

You can even see that Carpenter did not really see himself as more than a studio employee…it is one of the few films he has directed to not bear the “John Carpenter’s” as part of the title.  This is the forgotten film because it feels neither like a Carpenter film nor a Chevy Chase Film.  It never really pulls you in, and Nick really lacks personality.

Family Road Trip (Vacation, 2015)

vacation_posterThe National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise is an uneven one.  The original is a quotable classic, as is Christmas Vacation.  European Vacation has it’s moments and Vegas Vacation?  Well, it is Vegas Vacation.

National Lampoon has been dropped from the title for this updated tale of a Griswold Family Vacation.  This time around it focuses on Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) and his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate).  Pilot Rusty is inspired to take his wife and two sons on the very same road trip to Wally World as his father took him on.  In one of the more clever sequences of the film Rusty and Debbie argue whether a new Vacation is a good idea.  The whole discussion is a veiled defense of this fourth sequel.  Who remembers the Vacation from thirty years ago?  Why take the same trip? How is it any different?

Alas, most of the film is not quite as clever.  Don’t get me wrong, I did laugh.  But the film just never quite reaches the heights of either the original or Christmas Vacation.  It tries, mostly through rude and gross-out humor, but really, the truth is? Chase just brought a level of heart to the character of Clark Griswold that Helms never seems to have here.

Clark’s failures were a byproduct of major devotion to what he believed family should be.  His awkwardness was his belief in how he should be as a father and husband.  And while Helms’ Rusty pays words to this…it just feels less…real.

The film has a good cast, but the film itself never gels as well as the best of the Vacation films.  The writing never gives the cast any real heart to work with.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑