Comedy writer Jerry Stahl, whose $6000-a-week heroin habit had him taking his infant daughter along on his drug runs and doing smack during TV script conferences. Departing detox, Stahl explores memories with survivor Kitty, who listens patiently to Stahl's flashback. Other women in Stahl's life are his British wife Sandra and his agent Vola. For the TV series "Mr. Chompers" (inspired by ALF), Stahl meets with sitcom exec Craig Ziffer and puppeteer Allen. For freaky freebasing, Stahl hangs with mumbler Nicky and druggie Gus. Written by
Jerry Stahl: The real Jerry Stahl has a cameo as Dr. Lazarus. ("Lazarus" is on his name plate on his white coat.) See more »
Sandra could have just taken Jerry's car keys, and have him stay at her home to watch Nina, this way he has no means to go out and buy drugs. See more »
You know what's mortifying? Smack is like the leisure suit of the nineties. Instead of wrecking dad's Buick on prom might, these little suburban fucks are coping habits and OD'ing in the rec room.
And you're different, because?
I never got to the prom.
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Poor little rich kid, Jerry Stahl, an actual TV screenwriter in 1980s Hollywood, p***es all his good fortune away through a hefty heroin habit. Jerry then hits bottom, recovers, and writes his autobiography. "Permanent Midnight" chronicles Jerry's fall from Hollywood hotshot to junkie bum. Besides such an unpleasant subject, and an equally unsympathetic main character, "Permanent Midnight" still entertains, in a morbid sort of way. It's told in flashback (at the beginning of the movie Jerry's just finished rehab and is about to return to his old LA haunts), so we kind of know where the movie will take us. There's no mystery, we're going to watch Jerry's self-destructive crash and burn in close-up. We're a little in the dark about what will happen after the movie catches up with itself, but there's really not a lot of tension. It's like watching a car wreck in very slow motion.
Ben Stiller does an excellent job portraying Jerry, with his craving for the drug rising above, and then destroying, all that's good in his life. It's quite a frightening portrayal. Elizabeth Hurley, as his girlfriend, is a bit of a stretch for both her acting talent and in the casting. But the rest of the cast does fine work. I think the major detriment to this movie is that the audience knows beforehand how it will all end. This is a very dramatic subject, but with no drama in the screenplay. And that is a drag.
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