Nope, not what you guys are thinking, if you’re thinking what I would be thinking in your position, but a double bill of Demi Moore films.
Set in the 1960s, Demi stars as Laura Quinn, an American and the only woman executive at the London Diamond Corporation. Continually passed over for promotion by less capable men and confronted with evidence that her employers intend to fire her for political reasons, Laura falls in with the plans of night janitor Hobbs (Michael Caine) to steal a thermos full of diamonds from the vault. Only he isn’t being straight with her and his plans are much more far reaching. Laura realises that she has got in much deeper water than she intended. Oops!
This was an amiable, pass the time heist movie, no great shakes but with a couple of likable leads and some sterling support from the likes of Joss Ackroyd, plus a couple of subtexts that, sadly, still feel relevant today – the role of women in the workplace and the placing of profit above humanity. The actual heist itself didn’t seem believable, but with its heart in the right place and a lovable Michael Caine as the bad guy I guess we can overlook stuff like credibility, though it’s not something I’m going to make a habit of.
A nice, uplifting framing device too, with Demi telling her story to a newspaper reporter forty years on so that it can inspire other women.
Demi plays Erin Grant, a former FBI secretary who lost her job thanks to her husband’s criminal activity, now forced to earn a living as a stripper at the Eager Beaver club. Erin’s biggest wish is to get back her daughter Angela, currently in the care of estranged husband Darrell thanks to an idiot judge and being used by him in a scam stealing wheelchairs from hospitals. Her dancing career brings Erin into the orbit of randy Congressman David Dilbeck (Burt Reynolds) and a web of murder, scandal and blackmail.
This is based on my favourite novel by the wonderful writer and satirist Carl Hiaasen, and so I fully expected to love it when the movie first came out, but unfortunately I’ve never been able to get on with it to the extent that I feel I should. Initially I thought this was down to the circumstances in which I first saw the film – one of the tabloids was offering free tickets, so I asked a friend to come along with me. Her first reaction was, what the hell do I want to see Demi Moore take off her clothes for, quickly followed by ‘I’ll get in touch with my lezzie tendencies’ when the free aspect was mentioned. She then settled in for the whole ninety minutes with the intention of mocking me, so that every other minute she’d lean over and whisper something like ‘Are you turned on yet?’ or ‘Do you want to put my jacket on your lap?’ I didn’t enjoy the film.
And that feeling has persisted through all subsequent viewings, even those on DVD, with freeze frame and zoom capabilities, which you’d reasonably expect to maximise viewing pleasure.
More seriously, a lot of Hiaasen’s humour simply doesn’t translate well to the screen. Much of the gentle teasing about strip clubs and the adult entertainment industry is lost or diluted too much. Ving Rhames does a good turn as bouncer with attitude Shad, but Burt Reynolds as Dilbeck is over the top, with the whole political satire angle taken off into Keystone Kop territory, so that instead of laughing at the film and feeling that it has points to make, the satire just seems too absurd to hit home. Of the other cast members, Armand Assante has gone from sultry matinee idol to hired muscle in a suit, with a performance that put me in mind of the Rock, and the whole murder mystery thing gets increasingly improbable as the plot unfolds, with Erin’s reveal leaving me cringing.
The biggest problem though is Moore herself. She has lost a lot of the sassiness that made Erin such a memorable character in the book, instead emoting to catch the audience’s sympathy as a mother and woman forced to strip. And while she dances well enough and has a hot body, I found her silicone enhanced breasts a distraction, as if somebody had stuck a couple of large balls with nipples on her chest. The Erin Grant I recall would have glared at anyone who suggested cosmetic surgery, whereas this version is so obviously a beneficiary that it comes close to eclipsing everything else about her, personality included.
The movie didn’t do well at the box office – it may have been Moore’s last big payday and there haven’t been any more Hiaasen adaptations, which is a pity as a lot of his work is crying out to be filmed (if I was feeling ironic, and it appears I am, I’d suggest the one involving plastic surgery as a strong contender). Some day I must read the book of Strip Tease again, to see if it stands up and nail why the film doesn’t work, despite being largely faithful.
And, on reflection, perhaps this blog post actually was about what you were thinking when you read the header.