Monday, April 29, 2013

Film Review: THE MEN'S CLUB (1986, Peter Medak)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 101 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Roy Scheider (JAWS, ALL THAT JAZZ), Frank Langella (FROST/NIXON, BRAINSCAN), Richard Jordan (DUNE '84, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE), Craig Wasson (BODY DOUBLE, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET III: DREAM WARRIORS), Treat Williams (HAIR, DEAD HEAT), David Dukes (RAWHEAD REX, GODS AND MONSTERS), Stockard Channing (GREASE, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION), Jennifer Jason Leigh (SHORT CUTS, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE).
Tag-line:  "The Breakfast Club.  The Big Chill.  And now The Men's Club."
Best one-liner:  Not really.

What is THE MEN'S CLUB?  I saw the damn thing, and I'm not sure I can tell you.  It feels like a play and reads like a block-headed sleazy macho paperback for yuppie dickheads, and yet is performed like a master's class in acting.  It sure doesn't have much in common with THE BREAKFAST CLUB or THE BIG CHILL, as the tag-line promises, though all three works involve groups of people talking to one another indoors about a variety of topics.

From the talented Peter Medak, director of THE RULING CLASS, THE CHANGELING, BREAKIN' THROUGH, and many other favorites of the Junta Juleil canon, comes the story of a group of professional and semi-professional philandering dudes who deliver monologues about how difficult their lives are.  Said dudes are portrayed by some of the finest actors of their generation, from Roy Scheider to Harvey Keitel to Frank Langella to Richard Jordan.  And they're giving it their all...(especially Scheider)... they just happen to be in THE MEN'S CLUB.

I can't really begin to describe THE MEN'S CLUB, nor do I really want to, but I can tell you about the few spectacular things that happen in it.

#1.  The Lee Holdridge soundtrack, which is spit-take inducingly fabulous.  Full of slap-happy slap bass, muted trumpets, wailing saxes, and smoove, easy listening grooves, I was sort of surprised that my walls didn't spontaneously sprout green felt and transform my apartment into a seedy, smoke-filled lounge where Malibu was consumed by the gallon and impromptu soft-core pornography shoots materialized out of thin air.  In short, I'm a little upset that the soundtrack has never received an official release.

#2.  How 'bout a Madame... with a frightening ventriloquist's dummy...

 
....who's peddling a young Jennifer Jason Leigh who's dolled up to sort of look like young Melanie Griffith?  I don't know what to tell you.


#3. I swear Harvey Keitel's contracts must include nudity in them.  They have to.  It's like how Van Damme's contracts must include splits and Burt Reynolds' must include bar-fights and Bronson's must have involved dummies plummeting from great heights. 

Anyway.

#4.  Frank Langella, reborn via midlife crisis into a suspender-wearing, post-80s New Wave makeup wearing-dude who looks like an extra from the Elton John "I'm Still Standing" music video.  I can't believe my eyes.


So there you have it– all the highlights of THE MEN'S CLUB without having to actually watch it.  Phew.

–Sean Gill

2 comments:

Mike B. said...

Whoa, what a cast indeed! I am both embarrassed and amazed that, in this internet age, I somehow have never heard of this film, especially since I'd put Scheider on the short list of my all-time favorite actors. Too bad the movie stunk. It reminds me of that old joke: "So they got [insert names of basically every prominent respected 90's actor] together and the film they ended up with was Con Air." I'll still watch it of course, because again, that freakin' cast. Thanks for bringing this matter to my attention!

Sean Gill said...

Mike,

Yeah, it's definitely a weird one, and if you're a Scheider completist it makes sense, since he does deliver a genius performance in the midst of the mediocre and bizarre writing. And from the director of THE CHANGELING? I'm so confused!

(PS more obscure Scheider is on the way)