Tuesday, 1 June 2010

No.37 : The Squeeze

Let’s get a bit obscure now on The Definite Article Movie list with this clunker comedy from 1987 which stars Michael Keaton. Keaton was only two years away from his star turns in ‘Batman’ and ‘Pacific Heights’ so it’s just as well the producers of those hits missed out on this effort which is short on laughs, drama and basically anything that makes a film worth watching. And look at that poster too! - Was Bin Laden a secret fan?!

Keaton plays the poorly defined Harry who is a loser hustler one minute and creator of pretty impressive dinosaurs made out of TVs the next. He has a strangely motivated sidekick in Joe Pantolianio who seems to get nothing from the relationship other than a loss of his cash and occasional beating. Maybe I missed the gay subtext? Well it is the 80’s you can’t judge by the haircuts and loud, baggy shirts.

The film opens with our likely lads executing the poorest card hustle you’ve ever seen, unless you watched ‘Big Deal’ like I did. As our heroes make good their escape Keaton’s ex-wife is trying to post a package twice as big as the mail box. Maybe they shrunk overnight or she’d never posted anything before, but it was never going in, Love.

On getting back home she finds her cat chowing down on a finger and sussing that the game was up she runs off to enlist Keaton’s help. He is strangely agreeable to this despite her debt collector being on his back for unpaid maintenance. After recovering the box and determining it to be a big magnet Keaton hooks up with the debt collector lady to try and work out why the mysterious Frenchman and his goons need the box back before the lottery is drawn.

This isn’t that bad a film, it’s just nothing special and I defy you to remember one thing about it in a month’s time, apart from the massive triceratops made out of TV sets. Keaton plays his usual mulleted, maniacal self which I always find a bit tiresome. He does OK with a weak script and poor character definition but it’s hard to care for a shiftless loser trying to con a fast buck.

Pantoliano gets very little to do and given this was the guy who played Ralphie in ‘The Sopranos’ that was a waste. Speaking of waists Meat Loaf also shows up as a henchman and despite having one of the strongest voices in rock he plays a mute who only gets one line when he’s been stabbed with the Empire State Building - well a model of it at any rate.

The love interest is provided by Rae Dong Chong who sets feminism back 20 years by falling for the alimony dodging Keaton 10 minutes after meeting him. The chemistry isn’t there at all and the devices that bring them together, like a mutual love of ‘Raw Hide’, seem strained at best.

The plot is wafer thin and involves the magnetising of lottery balls to swindle the jackpot. The draw, which is naturally held on the deck of an aircraft carrier, has scandalously low security which lets our cast manipulate the result and shoot off rockets like no one cares who gets the $55 million.

To pick plot holes in the flimsy narrative would be as hard as getting sand in your ass crack at the beach and frankly less fun. It’s not edgy or offensive with there being no sex or swearing to juice things up and without that you’re left with a largely disinterested cast running around for a 100 minutes before the hero has to decide between the money and the girl. ‘The Squeeze’? Puleeze!

THE Tag Line : Lottery Swindle Flick Is A Lot Of Balls 46%

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