Thursday, November 26, 2009
Alexa from Pop Elegantiarum here to share a turkey for Thanksgiving. When Vibes arrived in theaters in 1988, I was predisposed to like it for a number of reasons. First, there was Cyndi Lauper in her first starring role. In the great Madonna/Cyndi debate of the mid-80s, I was firmly in Cyndi's camp. (Keep in mind that I was 12 years old at the time.) Second was her co-star, Jeff Goldblum, on whom I'd harbored a crush since watching his Seth Brundle awkwardly woo Geena Davis at the beginning of The Fly. (I chose to ignore the gallons of puss he spewed later in the film.) As an added bonus there was Julian Sands, whom I'd also mooned over since he swung from a tree in A Room with a View. Finally, add a zany Peter Falk, pathologically lying à la Vincent Ricardo, and you had the stuff of my cinematic dreams.
Well, not so much. It really is pretty terrible. But I still enjoy Vibes, even as I guiltily add it to my Netflix queue today. Lauper and Goldblum play Sylvia Pickel and Nick Deezy, a pair of psychics hired by Falk's character to travel to Ecuador in search of lost treasure. The best scenes are before any Incan treasure is introduced (with some resulting effects-laden nonsense), when the characters meet bug-eyed cute in New York. Sylvia finds that her sometime boyfriend (a young Steve Buscemi) only wants her for her ability to pick the best horse at the track. Meanwhile, Nick uses his ability to pick up underwear and know just who has been touching it to confirm his girlfriend has been "playing bouncy-bouncy with another guy."
The script, by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, is filled with those kind of gems, a sort of slapstick-meets-sympathy vibe perfect for an 80s Ron Howard (see their scripts for Night Shift, Splash, and Parenthood). But Ron wasn't in charge on this one. Instead, director Ken Kwapis brought all the subtlety of his previous effort, Follow That Bird. But hey, as Kwapis said in an US Magazine (remember when it was an entertainment rag?) interview at the time, "I knew that there was something so wrong about it that it had to work." Unfortunately all the wrongs here didn't add up to a right. But it is fun to watch the effort.