Jealous, harried air traffic controller Max Fiedler, recently dumped by his girlfriend, comes into contact with nuclear waste and is granted the power of telekinesis, which he uses not only to win her back, but to gain a little revenge.
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George Roy Hill
Madolyn Smith Osborne,
Set in 1954, a group of Florida high schoolers seek out to help a buddy lose his virginity, which leads them to seek revenge on a sleazy nightclub owner and his redneck sheriff brother for harassing them.
Air traffic controller Max Fiedler is unhappy with his career and his second marriage. An exposure to toxic waste gives him the power of telekinesis. He comes to a crossroads at a beachhouse he shares with his wife, his ex, and a voodoo priestess. Written by
The late great African American comedienne Nell Carter really has no problems stealing the last half hour of this movie as Brian Doyle-Murray's Caribbean maid/cook/assistant/voodoo priestess. She is just about the only reason to see "Modern Problems", a comedy that doesn't know how to be funny.
From the first scene it looked like the film-makers had planned some sort of Jacques Tati-type silent observation comedy with very little dialogue, or something in the vein of Steve Martin's "LA Story". The only problem was I rarely found anything in "Modern Problems" the faintest bit amusing. Then suddenly the main character - played by Chevy Chase who is way too good for this material - has an accidental close encounter with radioactive waste and ends up with telekinetic powers! What follows is really weird. Suddenly Chase is turned into the Saturday Night Live equivalent of "Carrie", using his powers to get back the love interest who walked out on him. An example of "fun stuff" he does is making another man nosebleed uncontrollably in a bloody restaurant scene. Is this supposed to make us laugh?
Everything leads to a weird showdown at his friends beach house (which looks like the home of Norman Bates) where the above-mentioned Nell Carter gets her moment in the limelight. But in the end this is a really weird movie, a "comedy" with only one really good laugh, and that's from the reaction on Chevy Chase's face after he snorts up a huge pile of "demon-powder" of the floor like he was John Belushi with a bag of cocaine. That scene is REALLY bizarre. But funny.
Too bad 99% of the movie itself is just plain weird. But all in all, considering the appearance of the likes of Chevy Chase, Dabney Coleman and Nell Carter it still makes for a great candidate for late night TV, the type of odd entertainment that - if nothing else - will kill a few hours.
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