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Adam Sandler and Pauly Shore can only DREAM of being as funny as Michael
Keaton in "Night Shift." Keaton's hilarious performance only serves to
underscore the fact that he's never been near as funny
Sure, the movie will never be in the AFI's top 100 list. But when I was 18, a loony pre-college me dreamed of being as funny as Billy Blaizejowski, Keaton's character in the film. I credit the script for great lines, but I doubt anyone could have made an annoying character like Billy loveable - except Keaton.
Henry Winkler does a bang-up job with a straight role that affords audiences little to get excited about. He is completely convincing as an in-over-his-head nebbish with a nervous stomach, and deserves credit for pulling it off without seeming whiny. We identify with Winkler's character even though we can see how cowardly he is.
The plot, of course, is contrived, as is any plot involving hookers with hearts of gold. It's hard to see Shelly Long as a prostitute, but she plays it gamely and has fun with the role.
I recommend this film if you have any craziness to your sense of humor, or just if you're a male between the ages of 17 and 25. That's the target audience, but even in my mid-30's, I still find Keaton's performance refreshing and laugh-out-loud funny.
This was one of Howard's early directorial efforts (he even gives himself a Hitchcockian-style cameo in an alley kiss near the beginning), and one of his straight-out funniest. Many have commented on Keaton's top-notch breakout performance -- and it truly is one of the funniest supporting performances since Matthau's Whiplash Willie Gingrich. But, there are many other wonderful tidbits to enjoy thoroughly -- beginning with an incredibly clever script by Ganz and Mandell -- so many classic lines I almost don't know where to begin. Gina Hecht is also magnificently memorable in her supporting role as Winkler's neurotic girlfriend, and Nita Talbot is a gem as the domineering mother. Winkler is perfect as the understated nebbish lead, and the contrast of the low-income realities and the humor found in the script is marvelously unusual in American movies beyond "Little Shop of Horrors". In fact, the movie deftly blends reality and absurdity in a manner few have succeeded at. Finally, the ahead-of-its-time cast includes Shannen Doherty as a junior girl scout, Richard Belzer as a grotesque gangster pimp, Kevin Costner as a frat boy, Clint Howard (Ron's younger brother who starred in Gentle Ben and a classic Star Trek episode) as Keaton's first limo customer, Murphy Brown's Pat Corley as Hecht's father, and Ghost's Vincent Schiavelli as an obnoxious deliveryman. And, I do disagree with mainstream thought that Shelley Long was miscast -- she actually imbues her character with some underappreciated mannerisms that ring very true for me that transcend the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold cliche. All in all, a funny and harrowing film much better than it is generally given credit for.
Very funny comedy from Ron Howard. Winkler and Keaton are a great duo and they team up very successfully from what I see. The whole premise is completely absurd, but you never know, it could happen. Nonetheless, engaging performances and great humor serve up a very good film. 9/10
A film about morgue workers and prostitutes? That's what someone who hasn't seen the movie may ask. Without sentimentalism or cheap jokes like Adam Sandler's, this film is funny, with Keaton outrageous as an idea-man and Winkler perfect for the rational person in all of us. Every part does the job. It's a must-see.
This movie rocks. The cast, the soundtrack, the writing, the timing, it has it all. It is not your typical 80's movie, although a lot of movies were (and still are) being made where this one takes place in New York City. The plot is quite simple as Michael Keaton (Billy Blazejowski) and Henry Winkler (Chuck Lumley) work on the night shift at a morgue. Billy is an idea man,(he wants to feed mayonaisse to tuna to simplify the process of having to mix the mayo with the tuna) while Chuck is seems less and less content spending time when he can alone with his neurotic girlfriend. One day as he arrived at his apartment building, Chuck bumps into his neighbor, Shelly Long, after she had been beaten up by her pimp. Chuck later shares her plight with Billy Blaze. Well, it's at that point that Billy suggests that he and Chuck should run an escort service out of the morgue at night as pimps for Chuck's neighbor. The hilarity begins well before that, as there are too many quotes to list. I will say that once they become "LOVEBROKERS", as Billy so entusiastically suggested, their lifestyles change as the main characters' Parsons allow. This is a great movie that I now proudly own. You should too, if you're into first rate comedies about prostitution and pimp daddies. I know I am.
Ron Howard has always been a consistantly talented director, never making a
bad or even mediocre film. Even a film such as Ransom that opened to
lukewarm reviews from both audience and critics is still better than your
average thriller. He has a way of making lines and scenes memorable even
when the script itself is only so-so. After following his career, I went
back to one of his first, Night Shift which still has the magic I remember
it did when I saw it way back when.
The story isn't the greatest and Shelly Long has never been an actress I've enjoyed watching but if you only want one reason to see Night Shift, Micheal Keaton is it. Here he creates what is probably one of the funniest characters I have ever seen in a movie. He is an idea man, constantly speaking them into his taperecorder and thus to his morgue co-worker Henry Winkler. Winkler "the fonz" is the total opposite of what he was in Happy Days, and therefor a perfect anchor for Keaton. If it was just Keaton, it wouldn't work, but Winkler is annoyed at Keaton, we laugh because of it.
If you do decide to watch this movie, be on the lookout for the single most hilarious scene: Keaton's analysation of the word "prostitute."
This movie finds it's humor in seeing the absurdity of situations that are unusual but not completely unbelievable. The characters are memorable, especially as Henry Winkler plays a role that is a complete departure from previous roles and he does so convincingly. Winkler is a great straight man to Michael Keaton's high energy "idea man" and Shelley Long is well cast as the quintessential hooker-with-a-heart of gold. It's a very 80's film, but one that has stood the test of time. Even if the story line is "formula" it produces exactly the result you would expect: it's a loud, colorful, rollicking good time. It may be dated, but it is still funny after all these years.
If you love Michael Keaton in early 80s comedy, then Night Shift is
definitely recommended for you. He and Henry Winkler as a pair of
mismatched oddballs make the perfect comic duo in this Ron Howard
Henry Winkler is the soft spoken, timid Chuck Lumley. He's a moper, and works at the city morgue, which is where he meets the wild Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton), an absolute fun-loving weirdo with a headful of crazy get-rich-quick ideas. Bill wants Chuck to be his partner for his next business venture: they're going to run a high class prostitution ring out of the city morgue.
The idea sounds stupid, but it is well-meaning in some regards, since these are career prostitutes who've gotten pushed around for too long. Bill and Chuck are going to be their friendly godpimps, and help them be successful, high class hookers. Their clientelle are kind, jolly fellows, and the pimps (Chuck and Bill) are always good to the girls. And they all make a sh*tload of cash. Unfortunately, in trying to create this romantic comedy aspect (Chuck falls in love with Belinda--Shelly Long--who is one of the hookers), it glamorizes prostitution, which is pretty sad and at the same time, pretty stupid.
Also, while Chuck and Bill are having their fun, a pimp and his goon (Richard Belzer and Badja Djola)want to know where all of their girls have gone and why, if someone else is running the business, they haven't been given a cut of the profits. They're a dangerous pair (although, they turn out to be pretty wimpy in the end).
The movie becomes a combination of the Odd Couple as Bill tries to invovle Chuck in all sorts of his crazy ideas once the prostitution gimmick picks up and becomes quite successful. Chuck, it being part of his nature to always do things safely and not too spontaneously, gradually becomes annoyed with Bill, especially when Bill's ideas start to get him in a whole lot of trouble. Though, in Bill's defense, he does try to help his friend out by trying to get him to stand up for himself and quit being afraid of everything. Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton are terrific here in all of their zany antics.
The other half of the movie is something like Irma La Douce in that Belinda is the lovely prostitute that Chuck has fallen for. And, once he does, he doesn't want her hooking anymore. Shelly Long was also quite good in this movie, and a natural, as always. What an underrated actress.
Night Shift is a pretty good comedy with a great cast that makes a somewhat stupid story work great. The dialogue is just absolutely silly (like when Bill and Chuck are fighting in the office and all Bill can say is as he's crashing through glass and junk is that Bill should be careful because Chuck's wearing white).
This movie was actually pretty believable, and the actors had such chemistry, it was great! Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton were great together and seem to be like the most likeable people you would meet. I wish they would have made Night Shift 2, or Keaton and Winkler just should have worked together again. 7.6 out of 10.
NIGHT SHIFT (1982) ***1/2 Henry Winkler, Shelley Long, Michael Keaton, Richard Belzer, Clint Howard. Fast paced and funny black comedy about a prostitution ring run from a NYC morgue and odd couple attendants Winkler and Keaton (in an amazing and hysterical film debut) as their pimps. Great dialogue and sharp direction by Ron Howard in this, his first big-budgeted directorial debut*. Look sharply for Kevin Costner as a frat boy in the morgue party scene. Best line: Keaton's Billy Blazejowski: "Is this a great country or what?!" Interesting note: closing song "That's What Friends Are For" sung by Rod Stewart is the same song later sung by Elton John & co. for AIDS benefit proceeds. * I know... Howard directed previously "Grand Theft Auto" for Roger Corman, so lighten up , Francis!
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