Tag Archives: Jonathan Silverman

Weekend at Bernie’s (1989, Ted Kotcheff)

What’s most admirable about Weekend at Bernie’s, outside the acting, has to be the narrative structure. The first third takes place before the titular weekend, establishing all the characters, then the rest of it takes place over a twenty or so hour period.

Robert Klane’s script changes gears during the film’s final third too. Instead of relying on jokes, he and director Kotcheff go for morbid sight gags. They might be the best jokes in the film, but they’re rather cheap. The acting’s still good for these parts, however, and there’s still François Protat’s gorgeous photography. Protat makes Bernie’s feel like a vacation at the beach; there’s even some cloudy shots inferring the passage of time. They might be unintentional, but they work great.

As for the acting… Catherine Mary Stewart has the film’s most “real” part. She’s Jonathan Silverman’s love interest and finds herself surrounded by the lunacy. Silverman’s sturdy and likable in the ostensible lead role, but Andrew McCarthy’s a lot funnier as his obnoxious sidekick.

Terry Kiser plays Bernie, both alive and dead. If you don’t know the film’s concept, it’s very high brow. Silverman and McCarthy escort their dead boss around a vacation island, pretending he’s alive. Anyway, Kiser’s great in both stages, but as the corpse… he’s really impressive.

As far as supporting performances, Don Calfa’s really good. The rest are fine. Except Catherine Parks; she could be a lot better.

Bernie’s is not a smart comedy. It’s a dumb one with some smart parts.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Ted Kotcheff; written by Robert Klane; director of photography, François Protat; edited by Joan E. Chapman; music by Andy Summers; production designer, Peter Jamison; produced by Victor Drai; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Jonathan Silverman (Richard Parker), Andrew McCarthy (Larry Wilson), Catherine Mary Stewart (Gwen Saunders), Don Calfa (Paulie), Louis Giambalvo (Vito), Catherine Parks (Tina), Gregory Salata (Marty) and Terry Kiser (Bernie Lomax).


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Class Action (1991, Michael Apted)

With Conrad L. Hall shooting it and James Horner (pre-Titanic and fame) scoring, Class Action is great looking and sounding. Apted’s composition is frequently excellent. But it’s a vehicle for Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and it, rather unfortunately, eventually just works on that vehicle level. There’s no real surprises, no real content… just running time with good acting, directing and production values and nothing else. Class Action isn’t even an exciting courtroom drama. There are maybe three scenes in court. Most of the movie is Mastrantonio realizing she doesn’t want to be a heartless corporate lawyer and, given how evil her bosses act, it’s not a surprise.

There is one excellent underlying detail to the movie though–with Mastrantonio playing Gene Hackman’s daughter and Larry Fishburne playing his protégé, the film actually takes the time to acknowledge (but not explore, which is realistic but not necessarily the best move in such an anorexic story) their complicated relationship. The scenes with Mastrantonio and Fishburne are her best, mostly because her other relationships are generic. She’s mad at Dad, so those scenes have to play a certain way. The scenes with love interest Colin Friels are troublesome (as is Friels’s one note performance), because it’s unbelievable she’d ever be with him.

As for Hackman… he’s great in the scenes with Mastrantonio. Her worst and his best (she’s good throughout and excellent in parts, just not those). Even though Hall’s lighting is most loving for Mastrantonio (her skin glows), he’s very soft on Hackman too. The other Hackman scenes are somewhat standard Hackman material, but in the scenes with Mastrantonio, he’s exercising some of his other acting muscles.

The supporting cast–besides Jonathan Silverman (his performance in this one is indistinguishable from, say, Weekend at Bernie’s)–is solid, Jan Rubes, Fred Dalton Thompson and Matt Clark being the standouts. And Fishburne, of course.

Class Action is fine, but had it definitely gone either way–legal drama, family drama–it would have been in better shape. But for a movie written by a couple “Growing Pains” writers, it’s pretty good.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Apted; written by Carolyn Shelby, Christopher Ames and Samantha Shad; director of photography, Conrad L. Hall; edited by Ian Crafford; music by James Horner; production designer, Todd Hallowell; produced by Ted Field, Scott Kroopf and Robert W. Cort; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Gene Hackman (Jedediah Tucker Ward), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Maggie Ward), Colin Friels (Michael Grazier), Joanna Merlin (Estelle Ward), Laurence Fishburne (Nick Holbrook), Donald Moffat (Fred Quinn), Jan Rubes (Alexander Pavel), Matt Clark (Judge R. Symes), Fred Dalton Thompson (Dr. George Getchell), Jonathan Silverman (Brian), Joan McMurtrey (Ann) and Anne Ramsay (Deborah).


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