This guy Don’s been bugging me to review 92 IN THE SHADE since he nominated it for the BADASS 100 update and nobody else had seen it. And it clearly sounded worth seeing but I think the title had bad associations for me because it reminded me of a porno this dude I used to work with liked to watch. That one was called 92 AND STILL BANGIN’. Don’s movie is alot better, in my personal opinion. Your mileage may vary.
The title probaly could describe the heat in Key West where it takes place, but the movie never really shows or mentions it being that hot. So it could also describe the tensions between the young man (Pete Fonda) back in town resuming his job as a fishing guide and his main rival (Warren God Damn Oates). That’s a hell of a ’70s cast already, and then you also got Harry Dean Stanton as another rival, Margot Kidder as Fonda’s girlfriend, William Hickey as his dad, Burgess Meredith as some other dude, even Joe “MANIAC” Spinell as a client.
It’s a meandering movie that doesn’t build to a whole lot, but it’s got a nice feel to it. Kind of a tribute to southern eccentrics and working men. Reminded me a little bit of my man David Gordon Green of SEAGALOGY introduction fame. For example William Hickey is Peter Fonda’s dad, he spends most of the movie in a bed that’s in his backyard, as some kind of protest against modern life. And his dad is a rich guy on the lecture circuit, spends most of the movie complaining about everybody else and being classist, but also talks about his love for the word “pussy.” Alot of the movie is just strange conversations between weirdos, and you don’t really know if it’s a goofy script or if they just left the camera running while crazy people were free to babble about whatever came to mind.
There’s a little bit of violence, but it always happens suddenly. At the beginning of the movie Warren Oates is gonna shoot himself, but they talk him down. Another guy makes fun of him for his suicide streak so Warren chases the guy down with a pole. It seems all wacky like they’re just gettng a little carried away, but then he accidentally kills the guy. Or does he? I missed how exactly Warren got out of jail later, and wondered if that whole incident was part of the joke they play on Peter Fonda. Anyway, they play a joke on him so he blows up their boats. (That’s how they do it in Florida.) Then the rest of the movie is about Warren Oates trying to figure out whether or not he should kill Peter Fonda, and Peter Fonda trying to figure out whether Warren Oates is gonna kill him or not.
I like Warren’s character the best. He’s kind of back and forth. He seems understanding about Peter, even kind of bonds with him, and then he seems like he’s gonna murder him. He’s a man struggling with his demons. Unfortunately he’s got Harry Dean Stanton there, and that guy is an enabler. Throws the demons a bunch of demon nip to get em all worked up. Not a good friend.
It has kind of a novelistic feel, it doesn’t have the momentum of a normal movie. So I’m not surprised to find out that it’s based on a novel, and the writer of the novel also wrote and directed the movie. This is the only movie he directed, but he did write the screenplays for a bunch of movies, including RANCHO DELUXE, THE MISSOURI BREAKS and TOM HORN. I’m guessing he’s not the reclusive small town type of novelist, more like the hanging out with movie stars and rock stars type of novelist. According to the IMDb trivia he at various points was married to a direct descendant of Davey Crockett who later married Peter Fonda, to Margot Kidder, and to Jimmy Buffett’s sister.
I’m not sure what exactly 92 IN THE SHADE is supposed to be about. Maybe I didn’t really get it. But it’s a nice little slice of life, and death. And fish. And it’s one of the very few movies I’ve seen that uses the word “skiff” alot. Oughta be on DVD.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.