(director: Harold Becker; screenwriters: Darryl Ponicsan/from a Ben Stein book called “Ludes”; cinematographer: Howard Atherton; editors: Maury Winetrobe; music: Stanley Myers; cast: James Woods (Lenny Brown), Steven Hill (Max Sherman), Sean Young (Linda), John Kapelos (Joel Miller), Kelle Kerr (Rochelle), John Rothman (Ned), Amanda Blake (Barbara), Grace Zabrislie (Sheryl); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Daniel Blatt/Terry Carr/John Daly/Derek Gibson/Mel Howard; MGM Home Entertainment; 1988)
“The simplistic message film tries to be cool by having its hipster leads telling us drugs are not good for you.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Harold Becker (“Malice”/”Mercury Rising”) directs this turgid cautionary anti-drug melodrama. The simplistic message film tries to be cool by having its hipster leads telling us drugs are not good for you.
The screenplay is written by Darryl Ponicsan from a Ben Stein book called “Ludes.” The insecure NYC tax shelter salesman Lenny Brown (James Woods), who doesn’t love himself, moves to Los Angeles hoping to make a killing in business. Lenny finds himself $700,000 in debt when the government changes the tax laws. To kill the mental pain caused by his hustling business schemes going bust,
Lenny’s friend Joel (John Kapelos) introduces him to cocaine. This results in a bad drug-addiction problem for both Lenny and his loyal wife (Sean Young). The well-meaning lesson here, which doesn’t say that much even an idiot would probably know by telling us that addicts have screwed-up values. We learn that Lenny’s addiction ruins a promising life and that is supposed to make us feel bad for him, which makes for a shallow and uninteresting drama about a guy I never liked.
REVIEWED ON 4/1/2019 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/