Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Night Before (Thom Eberhardt, 1988)

This movie doesn't know how close it came to being shunned. And by "shunned," I mean not reviewed... by me. While most film critics show their disdain for the movies they don't like by writing a "bad review." I, on the other hand, show my disdain by not writing a review at all. I know, some of the most entertaining/enlightening film reviews can be the ones for so-called "bad movies," but I have less important things to do than waste my time writing about them. And that's what almost happened to The Night Before (a.k.a. Eine verrückte Reise durch die Nacht), another in a long line of "all night movies." When word gets out that Lori Loughlin's character has been sold to a pimp named Tito (for a measly 1500 bucks), I thought to myself: I like where this going. However, I quickly followed up that thought we this thought: If I don't see Lori Loughlin (The New Kids) in hooker clothes by the time the end credits start to role, I ain't reviewing it. I don't care if Keanu Reeves (Flying) wears black and white monk vamp buckle creepers during the film's final third. I'm not typing a word unless I see Lori Loughlin dressed like a floozy.


Now, given that I'm currently typing words about The Night Before, it's obvious that Lori Loughlin donned hooker clothes that met with my approval. But I have to say, it was touch and go for awhile there. I mean, I nearly had a heart attack when Lori Loughlin dismisses the tube top and black vinyl mini-skirt she's given to wear as unsuitable. I know, you're thinking, "unsuitable"? Call me crazy, but that outfit sounds pretty fucking suitable. In other words, stop making sounds with your mouth hole, Lori, and put those skanky ass clothes on.


The reasons as to why Lori Loughlin doesn't want to wear a tube top and black vinyl skirt are too complicated to get into at the moment. But she does eventually put them on. Oh, and the cool thing about her sleazy ensemble is that it comes with a pair of handcuffs and an iron headboard. I know, you're thinking, huh? Well, I told you it was complicated.


You could say it's convoluted as well, but I think complicated and convoluted pretty much mean the same thing. I know the word I'm looking for. It's absurd! In fact, the movie on the whole is pretty absurd. And a little racist, too.


In the middle of the night, a dark-haired teen from–I'm assuming–the suburbs named Winston Connelly (Keanu Reeves) wakes up in an alleyway in East Los Angeles. Unaware of where he is or how he got there, Winston, who is wearing a white blazer with a pink carnation on the lapel, tries desperately to piece together the events of his, as we'll soon find out, wild and crazy night.


Told via flashbacks, the film employs an unusual storytelling style in the early going. Jumping back and forth between different times frames, Winston slowly learns how he ended up in this particular part of Los Angeles.


Yeah, I know, an owl fridge magnet is what caused the read-out on his dashboard compass to say that he was going west. But that still doesn't explain how he ended up in that alleyway.


Staggering to a nearby coffee shop, Winston, after ordering a coffee and a donut, asks the waitress where he is. Since informing half-wits from The Valley where they are is not part of her job description, the waitress (Pamela Gordon) instructs him to dial 411.


After burning his lip on the coffee, a flood of memories come rushing into Winston's head. The prom!, he shouts. It would seem that Winston had a prom date with Tara Mitchell (Lori Loughlin). I know, you're probably wondering, how did the vice president of astronomy club manage to get a date with a girl who was recently voted Galleria Teen Model of the Month? If I told you, you wouldn't believe me. Actually, you might. Yeah, of course you might. You see, there was this bet Tara had with her friend Lisa (Suzanne Snyder). While I don't recall the exact details of the bet, I do know this, the loser has to go to the junior/senior prom with Winston.
  


Just as they're about to leave, Tara's father, Capt. Mitchell (Michael Greene, Rubin and Ed), tells Winston that grave bodily harm will come to him if anything happens to his little girl. If that wasn't enough, Tara warns Winston that she will bail on him the moment things get weird.


Excuse me, honey. But women in white lace fingerless opera gloves have no right to accuse others being weird.


What's that? Interesting. I've just been informed that women in white lace fingerless opera gloves do in fact have the right to accuse others of being weird.


As we're being brought up to speed as to how flashback Winston got to where he is now, the other Winston, the one currently lost in L.A., has just learned that he owes a lot of money to a man named Tito (Trinidad Silva). Of course, when he's told this, Winston yells, "I don't even know anyone named Tito!"
 




In a strange twist, both Winstons end up at the Rat's Nest bar at the same time. Let me rephrase that. The way the scene is edited makes it seem like they're there at the same time. In reality, however, they're there at different times. Flashback Winston is there with Tara when it's packed with people, and the other Winston is there when it's closed. To be honest, I think I'm making this seem more tangled that it has to be. I actually liked the way the film jumped all over the place, as it gave the proceedings a disorienting quality that mirrored what the protagonist was going through.


The Rat's Nest sequence is by far the film's strongest. For starters, the band is lead by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. And the bartender is played by Tommy 'Tiny' Lister. If that wasn't enough... Oh, and the band's female keytar player was wearing a pair of four buckle (western-style) winklepickers/pikes. As I was saying, if that wasn't enough, Winston and Tara perform an extended dancer number.
  



It's some time after this dance number that Winston accidentally sells Tara to a pimp named Tito for 1500. Enlisting the help of a hooker named Rhonda (Theresa Saldana) and an unnamed gardener (Clifton Wells), Winston must act fast or else Tara is going to be shipped off to Morocco.


Personally, I would have cut the scene with the toys thieves (these guys reminded me of Cheech and Chong from After Hours - a film I plan on reviewing one of these days). I don't know, but the film seemed to drag to a halt during this sequence. However, since the film would have only been seventy-something minutes without it, I would have added more scenes that featured Lori Loughlin handcuffed to a bed in her bra and panties. When in doubt, add more Lori Loughlin tied up in her underwear is what I always say.
   


I loved, by the way, the fact Lori Loughlin refuses to remove her bra when she eventually agrees to wear the tube top. Sure, wearing a bra with a tube top is basically one of the worst fashion crimes you can commit. But Lori Loughlin makes it abundantly clear that she doesn't like tube tops. In other words, she isn't going to be pushed around by some funnel-shaped piece of fabric. And, at the end of the day, that's the message I took away from this film. Stay true to yourself. And also that, according to this film, people of colour are mainly pimps, criminals and prostitutes.


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