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STICKY FINGERS(director/writer: Catlin Adams; screenwriter: Melanie Mayron; cinematographer: Gary Thieltges; editor: Robert Reitano; cast: Helen Slater (Hattie), Melanie Mayron (Lolly), Eileen Brennan (Landlord, Stella), Loretta Devine (Diane), Christopher Guest (Sam), Carol Kane (Kitty ), Stephen McHattie (Eddie), Danitra Vance (Evanston), Gwen Welles (Marcie); Runtime: 97; Hightop; 1988)
“A film that couldn’t get to Central Park if it was standing there.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This girls’ sitcom film is strictly fluff. A few comical moments succeeding in a long line of misfires. The girls try so hard to be funny by making faces and doing slapstick, that it is a shame the storytelling ability of the director can’t draw out the comedy. It is imitative of a dumb boys’ film, with the same way of irritating you. The setting is a phony looking Manhattan. The two hard luck buskers try to make their rent money by playing in Central Park, one playing a classical violin and the other a cello. They are struggling showgirls, sharing the same apartment, and hoping for their big break to cut a record or get a part in a musical.

Their overwhelming problem comes when Hattie (Slater), the bleached blonde violin player, buys some weed from her drug pusher, ex-attorney Diane (Devine). When Diane gets an emergency call that her boyfriend has been hit and splits, she is able to talk the ditzy Lolly (Mayron) into holding onto her green bag without asking what’s in the bag. Inside the bag is $900,000 smackers, which throws the girls into a frenzy of feeble comic antics.

To provide some NYC character atmosphere, we have the girls’ landlord (Brennan) demanding rent from the girls in a strident NYC accent. The landlord broke her leg and her hick sister Kitty (Kane) comes to stay as a nursemaid. Kitty flirts with the parking attendant (McHattie) from across the street, while Carol Kane does a ‘My Friend Irma’ bit — competing with the girls who live on the 5th floor of the walk-up to see if she’s as big a numbskull as they are.

Naturally the money becomes too much of a temptation for the pair, as they get sticky fingers over it. To add to their problems they get burgled, but it is their musical instruments and electrical equipment that gets taken and not the money. So the girls go on a shopping binge, bet in a casino, buy new musical instruments, pay their back rent, and have spent over $200,000 buying gaudy earrings, flimsy dresses, tons of shoes; and, who should call them but the one they never wanted to hear from again, Diane, wanting her green bag.

The exchange takes place in the ladies room of a theater they are appearing at. But Diane has been followed by some pretty bad hombres who will do anything to get their money back. The police have also followed and arrest Diane. That leaves the bad guys with no choice but to go after the two buskers holding the green bag.

The funniest one in the film was Lolly’s potential boyfriend Sam (Guest). He plays her off like he was a fiddler in a flea circus. He is still with ex-girlfriend Marcie, and is never around when Lolly needs him. When Sam is spotted with his arm around Marcie, he tells her the stupidest lie imaginable and when confronted with why he can’t even show up to Lolly’s seders to meet her mother he replies: “Don’t you talk seder to me, because seder is kugel and kugel is poop.” Whatever that means, it was the funniest moment in a film that couldn’t get to Central Park if it was standing there.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”