Saturday, June 12, 2010

Matinee (USA. 1993)

I remember seeing Matinee as a kid on VHS and being unimpressed. Where were the fantasy elements that evident in Director Joe Dante's films like Innerspace and Gremlins? Matinee was just They hung out, talked about stuff they liked, and had crushes on girls. Truthfully, its nothing more than that, but no one does it better (or more believably) than the Joe Dante creates.Set in the 60's during the Cuban missile crisis, the films follows a rag-tag bunch of kids as they deal the horror of real life that surrounds them by filtering it through premiere of a new film by the cheesy B-movies of William Castle-esque showman John Goodman. "HALF MAN! HALF ANT! ALL TERROR! MAAAAAAAAAAAANT!" No one does the meta-movie commentary better than uber-film geek director Joe Dante.

The kids (no one famous as far as I could tell) all do admirable job, and John Goodman is the same affable smart aleck that exudes charm from every pore. It's the kind of film that feels like you're just hanging out with the characters for an hour and a half. No one changes deeply, nor does anything particularly dramatic happen, but its just a fun ride. As light as it may seem at first, there's a real dark undercurrent running through it all (Atomic fear and Vietnam) that adds that little extra weight to an all around solid production. It would have been nice if they did go a little darker, or something really interesting did happen (instead of the tacked on set-piece at the end) but it seems like that wasn't what they were going for.

My one big complaint: Not enough Dick Miller.

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