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Blind Date

tn_blinddateBruceIt might be hard for some of you youths to believe, but there was a time when our boy Bruce

1. could never be thought of as an action star and

2. had some hair.

In those pre-DIE HARD, mid-MOONLIGHTING days it made more sense than anything for Bruce to star in a Blake Edwards comedy. He was kind of thought of as a hip young smartass comedy star, instead of a smoldering veteran action star who can also be funny.

mp_blinddateIn BLIND DATE Bruce plays Walter, a guy really struggling to keep up in his high-paying office job. He stays up all night preparing a report, doesn’t have time to shower, runs to work, does the presentation and gets shit on for his appearance. His boss tells him to be more like his Ellis-like prick co-worker who spent the night fucking some girl in a limo and then pretended he couldn’t present anything because of printer trouble.

Ain’t that the truth that a guy who is a schmoozer, even if he’s Ellis – maybe especially if he’s Ellis – is gonna get all kinds of good jobs and do well, have all kinds of money and get to do the shit he wants in life, just because he’s good at punching people on the shoulder and calling them buddy. It sucks but it’s true.

Now Walter has to bring a date to a big dinner the company is throwing to impress a Japanese investor, and his love life ain’t so hot either. In desperation he lets his brother (Phil Hartman) set him up with a friend from Baton Rouge (Kim Basinger as Nadia) who turns out to have a high sensitivity to alcohol that turns her into a raging lunatic, among other complications.

This is a good time capsule movie because it’s aimed at the concerns of the yuppie era. Walter feels like he needs to have this type of job and make lots of money, own an expensive car, use that to impress a woman. But he doesn’t fit into this world. He obviously thinks his friend’s sexual adventures are sleazy, but also envies them (especially when presented with Polaroid documentation).

Nadia’s alcohol problems are almost like a super power to cut through all that bullshit. She dismantles all social convention, gigglingly Telling It Like It Is, exposing the horndog co-worker, cutting down the Japanese investor’s sexist traditions that everyone else is tip-toeing around, introduces a geisha to California divorce law. She destroys Walter’s expensive suit and car and removes him from his soul-killing job. She’s a tipsy, one-woman Project Mayhem.

Meanwhile she’s being chased by John Laroquette (THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE), a psychotic ex-boyfriend who crashes into a pet store, a paint shop and a flour factory and keeps going. And she so angers Walter that he tries to outdrunk her and out life-change her. He kind of returns the favor, humiliating her in front of her type of rich people crowd who see themselves as more cultured. (One of our first impressions of her is from her friend’s art show – it seems to be a blatant H.R. Giger ripoff.) Anyway, this lands Walter in jail on an attempted murder rap. (Long story – see movie for details.)

Then the movie takes a big turn when he faces a judge – I think this is the funniest scene. It turns out Laroquette is a hotshot lawyer and when he approaches the bench we realize that the judge hates him more than any man on earth. There’s alot of funny shit going on in this scene but the part that gets me is the judge, having broken his gavel, pounding one shoe against the sound block and yelling “ORDER IN THE GOD DAMN COURT!”, then politely turning to the clerk and saying, “Sorry, Agnes.” That’s some funny shit. But maybe you had to be there. Or maybe you just gotta be like me and think it’s hilarious when men apologize to  women for swearing in front of them, like they’re made out of a delicate sugar that will melt under the pressure of harsh words.

Although Walter is portrayed as a total mess at work he’s obviously supposed to be a real cool guy, like David Addison on Moonlighting. The main reason we know this is because before the blind date has gone south he surprises Nadia by taking her to a special place: a studio where legendary jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan is recording. He says hi to Stanley, who lets him just sit and have a drink while watching him record. Pretty elite, but there’s a perfectly logical explanation: he used to play guitar, and used to record here. You know, just used to hang out with Stanley Jordan. No big deal. But he’s in business now. That was the old days.

Well, he delivers on this hidden super-coolness at the climax when he interrupts impending nuptials by standing in the distance and yelling “Yo!” This is of course followed by diving fully clothed into a swimming pool, where the bride-to-be also jumps and makes out with him, and then all the wedding guests applaud. Not many people can pull that off, there is a list of under 10 Americans who can do it but Walter is on the list. Stanley Jordan is his alternate.

There’s an odd little detail I noticed that might be worth pointing out. At one point Walter shoots at Laroquette’s feet and yells for him to dance. He demands that he moonwalk, and he does. But then Walter says, “I hate that shit.” No big deal, but I remember in THE LAST BOY SCOUT Bruce’s character made a show of disliking funk and hip hop. Is this a theme? I’d worry that he had some bias against black music if the last video I watched hadn’t had him singing with the Temptations.

I think BLIND DATE was a poorly reviewed movie and viewed as really broad at the time. But now days it seems kind of classy and understated for this kind of thing. For example there’s a whole scene where he’s trying to peek into a women’s restroom to see if Nadia is inside, and a club bouncer sees him doing it. Instead of the joke being that he looks like a pervert the joke is how uncomfortable it makes him. He stammers a long, convoluted (and completely true) explanation for why he’s doing this as the bouncer just stares at him wordlessly with an expression he interprets as “I don’t believe you” but is probly more like “I like that I can torture you just by standing here not saying anything.”

I’m not saying it’s nearly as good or as epic, but the tone somehow reminds me of THE BLUES BROTHERS. It’s ridiculous enough that a character can suddenly be attacked by a monkey while driving, but deadpan enough that it seems to be grounded in some kind of real world. It’s got a whole lot of slapstick humor, but it’s more than just knocking shit over. For example there’s a long, elaborate, quiet sequence of Walter sneaking around a mansion trying to find Nadia without being spotted by Laroquette, his parents, his butler or a doberman, and having to climb walls, fall off roofs, duck around corners, hide under beds… Shit, maybe this is how he became an action star?

And I kind of like the unorthodox romantic arc where they go pretty quickly from absolutely despising each other to thinking oh shit, are we actually in love? Why didn’t we notice that before?

The one bit that really failed for me though is when he goes to drop her off at her friend’s house and as they’re standing at the front door suddenly the house is jerked away by a construction crew. I don’t really get why this happened, how it happened to happen at that exact moment, why they couldn’t see the people about to do this, why the people about to do this didn’t notice there were people standing in front of the house, or why a construction crew would do that exactly anyway, and if so why they would do it in the middle of the night. Other than those few questions though I guess it was pretty self-explanatory.

Yes, it’s true, I liked BLIND DATE. Whatever happened to this young comedian, anyway? I’ll have to look for some of his other ones.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 5th, 2010 at 12:35 am and is filed under Bruce, Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

36 Responses to “Blind Date”

  1. I never saw this one, although I’m a huge Blake Edwards fan. I really have to catch up with some of his work.

  2. See, Hudson Hawk was made by Comedy Bruce, but everyone was expecting Action Bruce by that point.

  3. Kevin Holsinger

    April 5th, 2010 at 3:53 am

    I’m curious to see what other Bruce movies Vern’s going to do. I always hoped for a review of The Siege during the Bush years, given how relevant it was. And Color of Night is a rather bizarre film.

  4. It’s worth checking out CJ, not in the same league as the classic Pink Panther sequels or S.O.B. but has a lot of great moments, and Laroquette goes full bore.

  5. Yeah, I like this one too. Hey, given how Bruce plays a character called Walter, is a sometime musician and goes onto sneaking about a large building owned by rich people, trying not to get caught, do you think, like The Blob was for Steve McQueen, this movie is semi-autobiographical AND somewhat prophetic for Bruce?

  6. I think my favorite Blake Edwards movie is THE PARTY. That movie is just an epic slow-burn as you watch as Sellers goes from just trying to clean his shoe off at the beginning. to the conclusion which involves millions of bubbles, a small legion of hippies and an elephant. That movie is completely off-the-wall insane, but is so deadpan about it, you never notice as it makes all these crazy turns and keeps zigging where you think it’s going to zag and just building and buuilding to that epic conclusion.

    And I couldn’t tell you why, but the one shot of Edwards and the girl dancing with each other amid the bubbles in slow motion was incredibly moving to me.

    SHOT IN THE DARK is also more then a little excellent.

  7. I’m going to recommend SUNSET as Vern’s next destination on his Ye Olde Tyme Walter B Reunion Tour. Everybody seems to hate it but I like Bruce’s rapport with James Garner, and the idea of Tom Mix and Wyatt Earp solving a noir-styled mystery in Hollywood is a lot of fun. And it’s an important stage in Bruce’s badass evolution. Before he could be the action star of the future, he had to play the action star of the past.

  8. Totally forgot about Sunset! Yes, you must review this next, Vern!

  9. Given the attention given to the Chipmunks recently, I demand a Look Who’s Talking review, just for the hell of it!

  10. Always liked this movie. Just watching Walters world tumble around him and the whirlwind of Kim Basinger causing all this destruction. One should really tip his/her hat to her as well as Willis as she stepped out of the sexpot role for this one and pulled it off. Instaed of us pulling one off in 9 and a half weeks. Incidently, Bruce Willis(is) real name is Walter. I think.

  11. I’m looking forward to/hoping for a Hudson Hawk review. It’s such a bizarre film, definitely has shades of Ford Farlane about it (which is probably because one of the scriptwriters wrote Ford as well) in that it has such a bizarre and inconsistent tone, and such a bizarre sense of humour.

  12. i saw this one in the theater when it came out and loved it at the time (i was just a kid), but have maybe only seen it once since on video or cable and not for a loooong time so i don’t remember much about it. i actually had no idea it was blake edwards! i always assumed it would be a movie that wouldn’t hold up, but maybe i shoudl check it out again. i know that for me personally laroquette was a highlight.

    incidentally, whenever bruce is on letterman, it is definitely Comedy Bruce, Co. Ltd. he always comes prepared with some comedic bits. it’s a bit hit and miss but sometimes quite funny, and it’s rare to see such a big star who’s not specifically a comedian trying so hard to make everyone laugh.

    and, yes, his name is walter. check out the talkbalks on aicn for vern’s article on the PG-13 rating of DH4 pre-release. classic stuff. vern used his powers of summoning to bring forth the real bruce willis who actually stayed and chatted in the talkbacks for quite some time. amazing. whom will vern summon next?

  13. oh i forgot to second the THE SEIGE review request. that movie is really underrated! i rented it and was surprised how interesting and complex it was given its lukewarm reception. it’s also one of the VERY few times that bruce plays an out and out villain. it’s cool that he is painted as the villain given his cheney-esque attitudes. also, the movie has a much more nuanced view of arabs and arab-americans (though it doesn’t seem to always be clear what it thinks) than most mainstream hollywood movies, especially pre-9-11.

  14. Kevin Holsinger

    April 5th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Virgin Gary,

    I saw Bruce’s Siege character not so much as a villain but a personification of why a military approach to terrorism is wrong.

    If memory serves, he actually warned the government that the military was “a broadsword, not a scalpel”, and didn’t want to put the military into Manhattan because he thought it would go wrong.

    But once he got the go-ahead, he just tried to apply a military mindset to a city-wide manhunt. I guess you could argue that this eventually turned him into a villain, given the torture and whatnot. However, I saw it more like a man trying to play Game A according to the rules of Game B.

  15. ok, yeah it’s been a while since i saw it, but i do remember thinking in the first half that he was being portrayed as somewhat sympathetic, but then in the second half i felt like he became a full-blown villain (which i was happy about).

    it’s somehow often really satisfying when bigtime leading men who always or almost always play good guys go bad. like denzel in TRAINING DAY. has robert redford ever played a bad guy? i guess maybe INDECENT PROPOSAL but i haven’t seen it. will smith only ever plays good guys, but i can’t imagine him ever taking a bad guy role. clooney hasn’t played a bad guy yet that i can think of, but i bet he will some day (soon?), and i think the results will be glorious. i guess he wasn’t exactly a good guy in BURN AFTER READING but not exactly a villain either. hugh grant had this almost unshakable image as the stuttering, charming sweetheart for a while, but he is so much more fun playing a dick like in BRIDGET JONES or especially ABOUT A BOY (though he is still the “good guy” in that one, just a super dicky good guy).

  16. oh for some older enjoyable bad guy turns from actors with good guy images: henry fonda in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and fred macmurray in THE APARTMENT (apparently, so many of his fans were so shocked and disturbed by him playing such an evil prick in that one that he vowed to only play good guys after that, which i guess sort of explains “my three sons” and the goddamn flubber pictures).

  17. Kevin Holsinger

    April 5th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Virgin Gary.

    (spoiler) Harrison Ford in “What Lies Beneath” was a personal shocker for me. Though I think he was less-than-sympathetic in “The Mosquito Coast”, but I never saw it.

    And I liked the idea of Tom Hanks as a mobster in “Road to Perdition”, but then he turned into a NICE mobster, and the movie didn’t work as well for me.

  18. Tom Cruise needs to utilise his perceived creepiness and play more villains.

  19. I would love to see Will Smith as a villain. I can imagine that. First he is playing the usual, charming guy next door, but all of a sudden he freaks out, starts to yell at his victim and cuts his throat. Shit, even Chris Rock played once a killer who scalped a man!

  20. Will Smith has played a villain. In BAD BOYS II he’s pretty much the most heinous human being alive (he even exclaims that he is the devil at one point), it’s just that the movie PRETENDS that he’s a good guy.

  21. If they’d kept the original ending to I Am Legend, Will Smith would have been playing someone doing the wrong thing, albeit unwittingly and eventually stopping.

  22. Love Blake Edwards. He is one of those masters of visual storytelling, and when he’s working in the comedy genre, is served well by collaborating with some of the most gifted physical comedians of the sound era. The Party is probably my favorite, (The Pink Panthers, 10, and S.O.B also great) but I also highly recommend his late period underrated masterpiece SKIN DEEP with John Ritter. One of my absolute favorite flicks.

  23. (minor spoilers about WATCHMEN)
    I liked that WATCHMEN used mostly less well-known actors, but not casting Cruise as Adrien Viedt was the crime of the century. He was born to play that part. It combines his looks and charisma with his oddly creepy implacable disingenuous quality so perfectly it could have been written for him. And they wouldn’t have had to have Matthew Goode act like a lisping idiot to get us not to like him.
    (end spoilers)

    On the other hand, worst ever good guy-plays bad guy turn? Morgan Freeman in DREAMCATCHER. Terrible movie, completely dull performance.

  24. I think my favourite Blake Edwards movie might be “Operation Petticoat”.

  25. “And I kind of like the unorthodox romantic arc where they go pretty quickly from absolutely despising each other to thinking oh shit, are we actually in love? Why didn’t we notice that before?”


  26. Mr. Subtlety- yeah, but Morgan Freeman did better in Wanted. The “shoot THIS motherfucker” line still makes me laugh.

  27. Vern, I am right there with you in doing a Walter B retrospective. For some reason these days I have been re-watching Moonlighting (Seasons 1 – 3, none of that post-Glenn Gordon Caron bullshit), and it’s pretty amazing to be reminded that, yeah, this guy used to be a beloved comedian. And he’s on fire in those episodes. Personally I am not suggesting you review those DVDs because everybody and their brother here keeps suggesting things for you to review, and the list must be huge, and BTW I’m surprised no one mentioned The Wire today. But all I’m saying is, if you do happen to watch them on your own, without coercion from any talkbackers but simply because you felt like watching Moonlighting, you will enjoy them in my opinion. Thanks bud.

  28. The only tarnish Blake Edwards has was his several weap sauce* tries (I’m being kind here) to reboot PINK PANTHER after Peter Sellers’ heart quit. Wasn’t that horrible SON OF THE PINK PANTHER with that annoying Italian mother fucker Edwards’ last directed movie? Sad, absolutely sad.

    And let’s admit it, TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER was a fucking greedy ponzi scheme. Sorry Blake, but that was a wanker thing to do. You deserved to get a new generation to remember your trademark series by only remembered with some lame shit starring Steve Martin. You angered Crom.

    *=CURSE sucked, but I must admit, the Roger Moore cameo made me laugh.

  29. I’ve never seen this one either, but will probably look it up now. (And hell, the last movie I “looked up” on Vern’s recommendation with a DTV action sequel starring two MMA stars, Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme, which was improbably fantastic.)

    As far as Willis’ later work goes though, I do think “Die Hard” is a pretty good movie. Vern, you may want to check that one out sometime.

  30. Mr. Majestyk – Actually you’re not the only SUNSET fan. Gene Siskel back in the day gave it thumbs up.

    Not sure that helps, but hey he also recommended CLASS OF 1999.

    And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  31. I love that Blakey was gonna direct City Heat, but Clint (in his sublime and awesome cheapness) didn’t appreciate Edwards wanting a house rented for him in Bev Hills for the duration of the shoot. Enter Richard Benjamin.

  32. Jareth Cutestory

    April 6th, 2010 at 8:23 am

    It wasn’t unusual in the 1980s to take potshots at Michael Jackson and rap music, laregely because they were seen as flamboyant and artificial, like when Eddie Murphy has a laugh at the expense of a dude wearing a Michael Jackson jacket in BEVERLY HILLS COP. It was often argued at the time that The Temptations or Otis Redding were “authentic.” If BLIND DATE was made in the 1970s, Willis’ character would have probably expressed anger at a Clinton/Funkadellic type dance move.

    There was probably a component of race in there as well, maybe an unease being expressed at something new and more self-determined than what the dominant culture was comfortable with. Time tends to make this unease look a bit silly.

    Virgin Gary: Remember when Willis crashed a motocycle onto Letterman’s stage? That was Comedic Bruce and Action Bruce all at once.

  33. “Can’t juggle pate!”. To this day I think of that when I see pate at a fancy party. No one understands my referential exclamations, though…

    Thanks for this one. Brought back some great memories. Bruce ruled.

  34. I’m old enough to remember back in the day when Bruce Willis as (just) a comedian, instead of the action icon he’s today. In fact, if in the mid 80s people said that Willis would became the kinfg of action, people would think you crazy. It would be as if somebody said that Robin Williams would became a top badass ass kicker. Willis was to be the new Robin Williams, his career was headed that way. Then Arnold decided to pass on an hesit action movie because he wanted to do comedy instead, and Joel Silver decided to hire a new up and coming star (and cheapper while still paying a suprisingly high paycheck for an untested blockbuster star) as a last minute replacement. And the rest is history.

    But as seen from the perspective from mid80s, Bruce Willis as an action hero would actually be a funny proposition, as if it was some comedy movie about a misplaced inept clown in the middle of over the top action while comedy issued.

    I guess this is what australians must feel about seeing Eric Bana’s Hollywood movies.

  35. The Roger Moore cameo in CURSE OF THE PINK PANTHER is one of the funniest things i ever seen in my life. I remember when i saw the movie back in the day in VHS with my friends. and fo the whole movie, we were just going through the motions, watching a this unremarkable movie. And then the cameo comes, and we just couldn’t believe! Remember, this was back in the day when Moore WAS Bond. We really, literally, fell in the floor laughing, all 5 of us. We repeated that scene a dozen times in a row. I never though i could laugh as much as i did with that scene. Until years later when i saw the Ren & Stimpy christmas episode when Stimpy’s runaway “son” returns with his “bride” in tow.

  36. This movie seemed fine to me when I saw it on TV in my childhood. It had laughs and suspense, and the cool parts of Walter’s life (before the trouble begins) were cool—his car, his hair, sipping white wine in a studio while cool jazz guitar is recorded, being related to Phil Hartman. John Larroquette was genuinely intimidating. George Coe played the boss, and I’d liked Coe ever since MAX HEADROOM.

    On later viewings I didn’t enjoy BLIND DATE as much. The Blake Edwards style of comedy is not as much my cup of tea as it is everyone else’s. It feels loud and harsh and ugly and misanthropic. (That might be what other people like about it, or it might be friendly and I’m just in the wrong headspace for it.) I didn’t enjoy watching Walter’s life get destroyed.

    One friend I re-watched it with sometime in the last few years had a severely negative reaction to Nadia. Not only did he not find her to be Walter’s manic pixie dream girl, he HATED her. Even though I didn’t find her likable either, I found myself in the position of having to defend her on the basis of her involuntary condition (insane when exposed to alcohol) plus a terrible miscommunication/misunderstanding (one of my least favourite comedic devices). IIRC my friend felt she should have been responsible enough to explicitly warn Walter about what would happen, and to refuse a drink, and from that point forward it was all her fault. We were probably both overthinking it, but we’re both worriers by nature.

    Poor Mark Blum. He’s the unlikeable friend in this, CROCODILE DUNDEE, and WORTH WINNING.

    It’s interesting to chart what nationality the “investor the company has to impress” was over the years. In this movie and SUBURBAN COMMANDO and a hundred other things, it’s the Japanese. Before that it was the Arabs. Who is it now? Do they still do that thing? Also I guess there’s a little synchronicity in Walter Davis wanting to impress Mr. Yakamoto and John McClane finding himself in Nakatomi Plaza the next year.

    Also BLIND DATE and MANNEQUIN, both from the same year, both have an attack dog named Rambo.

    Kevin Holsinger: In spite of its reputation, I enjoyed COLOR OF NIGHT. Mr. Majestyk: I liked SUNSET too!

    Virgin Gary: George Clooney’s character in COMBAT ACADEMY starts out as a villain but becomes a good guy by the end (as mentioned in Vern’s review). A pre-stardom Hugh Grant was a mean villain in AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE. (He does not become sympathetic by the end.)

    Mr. Subtlety: Tom Cruise would have made an awesome Adrian Veidt, in the sense of the direction they were going with the character in that movie. He has the charisma and the charming smile, and you could believe he’s intelligent. He’s still not quite the character in terms of the comic, but then that’s always a problem with comic adaptations.

    Jareth Cutestory: Until just now, I’d always thought that Axel Foley was laughing at the fact that the red leather suit was like Eddie Murphy’s in DELIRIOUS—that it was supposed to be him making fun of himself, saying that Foley would laugh at Murphy’s fashion sense. But now that you mention it, it does look a lot more like the V-shaped suit from “Thriller.”

    AsimovLives: I could actually picture 1980s Robin Williams doing an action movie. He has the muscles, he has the strong chin. He’d just have to resist turning it into a complete comedy. Maybe he’d have to get there in stages, at first doing a buddy comedy where he’s the funny one. 1980s Robin Williams could have played Wolverine if he could bring himself to be serious for the whole movie and play a character who takes himself that seriously.

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