A Movie A Day: Quint has a FLASHBACK (1990) The '90s are going to make the '60s look like the '50s.
Published at: July 3, 2008, 12:42 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
With today’s film we follow actor Cliff de Young over from SHOCK TREATMENT, where he attempted to fill Barry Bostwick’s shoes as Brad Majors. In 1990’s FLASHBACK he plays a small town sheriff running for Congress. He’s a heavy, a crooked cop, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
FLASHBACK was probably thought up as being a way to take MIDNIGHT RUN’s winning odd couple comedy formula of a man hired to escort a fugitive to justice, but to use it as a vehicle to bring Dennis Hopper back into the mainstream.
Instead of the bounty hunter/bail skipper relationship from MIDNIGHT RUN we have an FBI agent (Keifer Sutherland) and an ex-radical hippie (Dennis Hopper) traveling north to Oregon for a hearing.
Maybe it was me coming straight off of SHOCK TREATMENT, a film I didn’t enjoy, but FLASHBACK wasn’t a horrendous piece of shit to me. There’s at least a narrative and a chemistry between Hopper and Sutherland.
That by no means excuses the faults of the film. I can look at something like SHOCK TREATMENT and despite my distaste for it, I can recognize that it is probably somebody’s favorite film. Somewhere in the world there is a person who loves it for all the reasons I don’t and to them that is their favorite movie. Then I look at FLASHBACK and even though I thought it was okay and worth the watch I don’t think it is anybody’s favorite movie.
The film is middle of the road, balancing the good chemistry and clever lines with some horrendous winking at the camera (Hopper has a line where he says "It takes more than going down to the local video store and renting Easy Rider to become a rebel" for instance), terrible jumps in logic (who knew Oregon bordered Canada?) and radical character shifts.
Following the Midnight Run formula, you know that the uptight young FBI agent will eventually relate to the old hippie, but the way they do it in this movie stops it dead in its tracks. While on the run from a pissed off Sheriff (de Young… who somehow goes from upstanding local Sheriff to a blood thirsty madman because he roughed up Sutherland before he knew he was an FBI agent… now he wants to kill them both in order to get the win on his upcoming election… I probably spent more time talking about it here than they do illustrating his motives in the movie) Sutherland lucks out and happens to be in the very woods he grew up in, revealing that his parents were big hippies living on a commune in Oregon and he grew up there.
The commune is abandoned, save for an aging hippie chick (Carol Kane) and thank god she has a 16mm projector because watching a (very long) home movie is what makes Sutherland remember the beauty of being a hippie.
Sutherland plays the character shift for all it is worth and I give him credit, but the story just didn’t give him enough time and relied too heavily on convenience to force the story into the Midnight Run formula.
Keep a look out for Sam’s dad from SIXTEEN CANDLES, Mr. Paul Dooley, as Sutherland’s FBI boss as well as a pair of comic relief characters (ex-hippies struggling in the ‘80s world) played by Richard Masur and Michael McKean. They are a little wasted in the flick, but it was still fun watching them work.
Final thoughts… It’s fun seeing young Jack Bauer in action, although at this time in Sutherland’s life he still looked more Ace Merrill/David from Lost Boys than Bauer. The sheer number of ‘80s character actors, the charisma of Hopper and the laughs the movie does deliver make it worth giving it a watch at some point, but it’s not good enough to go out of your way to find it. It’s not a bad distraction, but it’s not great cinema either. Plus it has a great soundtrack... lots of Rolling Stones and Steppenwolf.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Thursday, July 3rd: KLUTE (1971)
Friday, July 4th: ON GOLDEN POND (1982)
Saturday, July 5th: THE COWBOYS (1972)
Sunday, July 6th: THE ALAMO (1960)
Monday, July 7th: SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1950)
Tuesday, July 8th: WAKE OF THE RED WITCH (1949)
Wednesday, July 9th: D.O.A. (1950)
Tomorrow we hit the rewind button, zip past Keifer Sutherland’s teen years, childhood, infancy, past his mom’s pregnancy and follow his daddy’s sperm back inside his body… Well, not literally, but the connection is we’re jumping from Keifer to Donald, hitting 1971’s thriller KLUTE starring Sutherland, Jane Fonda and the late, great Roy Scheider.