Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beloved Turkey: Vibes


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.

10 comments:

par3182 said...

i'm still firmly in cyndi's camp

NATHANIEL R said...

I was a peacemaker in the great madonna/cyndi debate since i loved both muchly. still do.

Anonymous said...

my mother is constantly asking me if I've seen this dvd to buy her. Sadly it's not even at cheap warehouse stores in Australia.

Chris Na Taraja said...

In my early days of coming out i was bedazzled by Madonna. She can still sometimes be like something shiny that you are hypnotized by for a brief moment...

But, if you want to bask in the real love of acceptance and queer activism, Cyndi is the one.

now I give Madonna props, she's a savy show biz lady, but stories I hear of her are usually hateful. i've never heard a hateful word about Cyndi, have you?

Madonna is sort of a hot one night stand, but my heart belongs to Cyndi for the long haul.

to both Madonna and Cyndi I say, "I see your true colors shining thru"

Glenn said...

"Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)" is a brilliant song! Alas I've never seen the movie.

NATHANIEL R said...

i was SO excited when VIBES came out. and i was really into the marketing (i think cyndi and jeff's hands were held up in closeup and it said "put your hand on mine on mine and feel the VIBES") but yep the movie is terrible.

Loretta Nyhan said...

I'm going to slink off to guiltily add it to my netflix queue...

Whatever happened to Julian Sands???

NATHANIEL R said...

good question Loretta. he was in everything for awhile

Unknown said...

This movie really is quite enjoyable. I mean, yes it's "bad" but come on - it's an 80's movie with Cyndi Lauper. The regular rules don't apply. I thought Cyndi was actually a pretty natural and charismatic actress, and the movie was fun. I catch this move on every once in awhile and I love it, it's a blast from the past.

pop-derío said...

The film is a guilty pleasure, and Cyndi is unbelievable. I don't think she did a bad job, tho' I agree the film is not good.
I've always loved Cyndi, and her voice and style in the 80s were her prime.