Thursday, May 29, 2014

Only now does it occur to me... WHO'S THAT GIRL

Only now does it occur to me...  Who is that girl?  Who is she really?

Whew.  Okay.  A couple of things.
I hope you like unmitigated Madonna-prancing!

First off, this is an 80s screwball comedy presumably greenlit because of the success of DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, and yet whoever was doing the greenlighting neglected to realize that Madonna was nearly mute and not actually the star of that film, which is regrettably not the case in WHO'S THAT GIRL.  

But this movie isn't all that Bad with a capital-B; it suffers mostly from a failure in tone– it's basically the fusion of SOMETHING WILD and BRINGING UP BABY (yes, there are jungle cats) with Madonna taking on the Katherine Hepburn/Melanie Griffith roles and Griffin Dunne taking on the Cary Grant/Jeff Daniels bits.  Madonna's character is pure id, manic-pixie-dream-Ciccone, and the major gag I guess is that she's a bad driver (!?).  Though I do appreciate the Material Girl living up to her name by patronizing McDonald's, wolfing down half of her Chicken McNuggets, and feeding the rest to an endangered species.
And did I mention that this is directed by James Foley, who did the GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS movie?

Anyway, there were a few brief things of note:

#1.  NYC in 1987.
I always appreciate these authentically sleazy street scenes; so ubiquitous in the 80s, and so rare today.  Thanks, Giuliani!

#2.  Obligatory gun salesman scene.
It seemed like for a while in the 70s and 80s, there was a scene in almost every film– comedy, action, drama, suspense, thriller, you name it– that took place in a seedy motel where a shady dude was selling weaponry.  Here, it's Sean Sullivan (CLASS OF 1999, WAYNE'S WORLD), who's a quite passable as a poor man's Brad Dourif.  Bravo.

While driving through the aforementioned unsavory neighborhood, Griffin Dunne's luxury car is graffitied over by the locals.  Particularly of note is "REDRUM" in pink and silver on the rear quarter panel, in a direct and head-scratching reference to THE SHINING.  My best guess is that it was the work of a bored production assistant.

#4.  Candles and champagne.
Candles and champagne?  Hmm.  What is it about Madonna and candles and champagne?  This is triggering something... it's triggering something traumatic and long-buried...  I'm getting flashes...images...words.  "Body."  "Evidence." I'm seeing Willem Dafoe's nipples covered in champagne and candle wax and sweet God no, NOOOO–
Stop, Madonna, no more, NO MORE!  AIEEEEEE!

–and then suddenly, we're back to reality, I'm no longer having a BODY OF EVIDENCE acid flashback, I'm just watching Madonna in a PG-rated screwball comedy, and it's just a couple of good folks enjoying some nice champagne with some lovely candles in the background, and I'm having a pleasant time, it's quite delightful in fact, and just a pleasant and delightful time, don't you think?
The final verdict:  better than BODY OF EVIDENCE, but not nearly as good as... gee, I don't know...  DISORDERLIES?


J.D. Lafrance said...

Heh! Now, that you mention it there are A LOT of gun-selling scenes in NYC-based films. Weird. I mean, you expect it in, say, TAXI DRIVER, but WHO'S THAT GIRL?

Nice call on the Kubrick reference! I did not know that. Of course, I haven't seen this movie in ages. It pops up on TV every so often but I usually end up switching the channel before it is able to work its "hypnotic" spell on me.

At least, Madonna went on to do DICK TRACY and was pretty good in that.

Sean Gill said...


Yeah, right? Maybe we blame TAXI DRIVER for the idea entering the zeitgeist in a big way and then just trickling down into everything else.

And I totally did a double-take when I saw the REDRUM. Also, been meaning to revisit DICK TRACY for a while, I haven't seen it in decades!