Friday, November 18, 2016

Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) [Midnight Movie]


You have to admire the simplicity of this setup: Nick Holloway (Chevy Chase) becomes invisible after a freak accident. Rogue CIA spook David Jenkins (Sam Neill) will stop at nothing to capture the invisible man for nefarious, espionage-related reasons. So far, so good, right? Poor Daryl Hannah, unfortunately, gets relegated to playing the afterthought love interest who's simply here to stretch out the middle portion of the movie. Can you imagine being the star of Splash, then having to eat shit in a role like this?

It's hard to make invisibility boring, but Memoirs of an Invisible Man forgets to include any of the built-in fantasies most people would have when daydreaming about the subject. In Unnecessary Monologue #2,356, Chase's voiceover confesses he thought being invisible would be fun, but it's not.

Seriously? Being invisible isn't the most awesome thing in the world? Maybe that's why I like the movie a lot more today than I did when I was a kid: a kid can't look past the preposterous notion that invisibility would be a burden rather than a useful super power. 


Here's my other problem with Memoirs: Chevy Chase didn't want to be funny in it. That sounds like I'm being snarky—and I am, to an extent, because his notorious ego is the entire reason this film doesn't work—but director John Carpenter said this about Chase:
He wanted to sort of slowly, whether this is right or wrong, to slowly move away from broad comedy and do something with a little more depth. And so he resisted the comedy all the way through it. 
On the plus side, the score is exciting, Sam Neil plays a great bad guy, and the special effects are out of this world. You automatically know how they did an effect in 99% of today's movies, and the answer is usually: "Oh, that's just CGI." In Memoirs, there are some head-scratchers. The invisible man will chew bubble gum, inhale cigarette smoke into his lungs, and see his own stomach full of food (minus the stomach) before puking the contents up. I really had no idea how they did some of this stuff before looking it up.

Otherwise, it's not a great movie for fans of John Carpenter. There are times a scene can have a bit of a whimsical Starman feel to it, but most of the time the camera is moving far too often (and far too conventionally) for this to be a genuine Carpenter flick. Meanwhile the concept isn't deceptively simple in Carpenter's usual style, it's just straight forward and simple. It's one of his few movies which really is about what it's supposed to be about, yet the result still isn't bad enough to pan it.

It's just a movie. Often an enjoyable one. I have nothing more or less to say.

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