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"Columbo" Columbo Likes the Nightlife (2003)

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25 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Columbo Gets Serious Again

Author: gerard-21 from United States
31 January 2003

In recent years the character of Lt. Columbo had become a caricature of itself. He had a comical theme accompanying his every move and to everyone involved, until he solved the crime, he appeared to be an idiot. Many of the culprits were caught because of their own stupidity and inherent lack of respect for Columbo. That's not the case here, as the detective goes back to deploying real sleuthing skills. You can see from the first interaction with the opposition that Columbo is regarded as a very serious threat, even though one of the killers maintains he "has nothing". Early on, Columbo shows he means business when he asks his suspect "do you find something funny about this?". There is less interaction with the protagonists in this one, which some may find distressing, but it's only because Columbo spends most of the episode doing realistic detective work, rather than relying on the killers' stupid mistakes(there aren't any). He really pieces this one together, and the climax where he determines the location of the missing man is very good. All in all, I enjoyed a return to the more realistic Columbo of the seventies.

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22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Late Return To Form

Author: sunshineplays from United Kingdom
14 August 2005

The "New Columbo" of the 1990s and into the 21st century have been a bit too whimsical at times but this story has much more edge to it. Columbo behaves more like an LA detective and the villains are shown to be more complex. The filming of the episode shows much more inventiveness than in recent episodes and the acting is first rate by all the cast. Falk gives an effective performance and conveys Columbo as being a little world weary - he's seen this all before but still loves his job too much. The makers of this episode have clearly tried to inject some energy into what was threatening to become a stale property. Overall, a refreshing return to form and a good finale for Columbo if this turns out to be the last ever episode.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Loud, but the rumpled detective's still got it

Author: vchimpanzee from NC
3 February 2003

They actually called it 'Columbo Likes the Nightlife.' He didn't seem to be enjoying it much, though. He thought the music in the rave dance clubs was too loud, and so did I. And they even had that same awful music as background in scenes outside the clubs.

An actress has a fight with her ex-husband who was jealous of her new boyfriend, with deadly results. The boyfriend helps the survivor deal with the situation but one of the parties receives an 'I saw what you did' call. As a result of the blackmailing, the movie's murder is committed but made to look like a suicide, complete with a suicide note on a computer. Then the familiar broken-down car shows up at the murder scene with the increasingly elderly detective in his wrinkled raincoat. And he is not fooled. For those new to the 'Columbo' series of movies, the Lieutenant with no first name is very polite and appears sincerely interested in everything (usually, it turns out, because he sees a clue), but also quite obnoxious. And while he didn't appear as completely ignorant as usual to the guilty parties, he seems to know just enough to make them nervous, but he tends to be satisfied with their explanations of why things don't make sense. I have been watching these movies for about 10 years, and while there may be no reason to consider this one anything special, it did not disappoint. Unlike most murder mysteries, the audience nearly always knows who did it, but the fun is in watching the detective solve the crime.

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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The Famous Old Raincoat

Author: paul sloan from Scotland
19 November 2003

Columbo has been going for over 30 years in some form. The dear detective must be the oldest copper in the world. He also solves all these murder cases and never gets promoted or even a raise. In some ways that is the great charm of Columbo. A new episode is really comfort TV. You basically know what you're gonna get. Any deviations from the formula have been disastrous.This particular one is fairly routine fare with a silly script. Still, the bad folks are totally obnoxious as usual and you are always glad when they get what's coming to them.Peter Falk is magnificent as always, a fantastic seriously underrated star. Nightlife is not great but Falk makes it all work fine.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Columbo stays contemporary with a clever story, tight script

Author: sbarr10 from California
31 January 2003

I watched this with some trepidation after seeing a negative review of the movie, but was pleasantly surprised!

Lieutenant Columbo is back, his powers of observation as sharp as ever. The setting is the Los Angeles rave scene, which should be no surprise as Columbo frequently stumbles into situations where he looks like he doesn't belong.

A person disappears, blackmail is attempted, and a death occurs as a result of the blackmail. Columbo starts with the death and unweaves the whole web of complicated events. Investigating police watching Columbo look perplexed as Columbo sniffs the breath of the corpse, takes off the dead man's shoe, peels off his sock, examines his toenails, etc. But they are watching the work of a master.

Some comic relief appears as Columbo approaches a new rave club; one dancing girl gives him a glow stick, and at the club opening somebody has draped a pink boa around his neck while he stumbles about.

More comic relief appears in the form of a large-bodied Mafioso anxious to hear if Columbo is making any progress in the investigation of the missing person; the mafioso gives Columbo a business card that says "capo". And in the climax, where the LAPD "reveals" the body of the missing person, the mafioso's large body fills the club entrance as he beams at the Lieutenant.

Some Columbo scripts and plot twists (such as the Andrew Stevens - Brenda Vaccaro relationship in Murder in Malibu) have struck me as weak or plain silly, but this movie was right on, with no words wasted and no silly annoying plot twists, although it's true that Columbo does get a few lucky breaks that lead him to the solution.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:


Author: mms0518 from Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
21 March 2003

Columbo is an icon in our society now.....I even saw a Japanese movie listed with "Columbo" in the title. Even the worst Columbo episodes are better than NO Columbo episodes for those of us who love Columbo! This wasn't the worst one I've ever seen....but my suggestion would be to get some of our newer hollywood/music bigwigs to sign-on to appearing as the "suspects". (who wouldn't love to see Tom Hanks in one?) If you look back at the older Columbo episodes, you'll see that many big-time and high-profile actors/actresses were the villians in many episodes of Columbo....even Johnny Cash! This really added to the shows and is something that seems to have been lost....I'd love to see people who had hit t.v. shows back in the 70's, 80's and 90's appear. I'll have to admit that back in the early 70's when I was in high school I watched faithfully and have been a big fan ever since. I hope Peter Falk is planning another episode soon.....cross your fingers fellow Columbo-philes!

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Forget Peter's age, just enjoy the usual Columbo formula!

Author: jamiecostelo58 from United Kingdom
10 August 2007

I suppose the main reaction when watching this particular episode is the fact that it is very hard to ignore Peter Falk's age. He was 75 when this edition was recorded in 2002 (broadcast in January 2003), but he simply threw himself into his legendary role comfortably and easily. This is a fun episode to watch! It's certainly a more 'modernised' interpretation than previous editions, with fast directing and electric-style music in the background during some scenes.

When Vanessa Farrow (played expertly by Jennifer Sky) accidentally kills her ex-husband, it's down to nightclub owner Justin Price (Matthew Rhys) to dispose of the body. But a surprising twist to the story will certainly keep viewers hooked! In steps our favourite Lt and the fun begins! Columbo Likes the Nightlife still contains the legendary trademarks that make the series so popular, including the "just one more thing" phrase, the talk of his wife, as well as his ageless car, but I do fear that it may be ignored by many viewers simply because of Peter's age. He may have been in his mid 70s at the time, but Lt. Columbo doesn't have to be! It's not the best by any means, but is certainly watchable.

This edition marks a satisfactory enough conclusion to a brilliant detective drama that I've had the privilege to watch every single episode of! Peter has kept millions of viewers entertained as Columbo for nearly 40 years, and the shabby Lt will sure be missed! Nevertheless, Columbo will in no doubt be adored by the masses for many many years to come! 7/10

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Excellent modernization of Columbo

Author: North-3 from Canada
30 January 2003

My girlfriend and I watched the premiere of Columbo: Columbo Likes the Nightlife tonight, and we both loved it! She got me hooked on Columbo when I first met her a couple of years ago and now we both try to catch it on TV whenever it's on... which brings me to the newest Columbo movie.

I read that ABC tried to add youth appeal to the ongoing Columbo movies. Since I'm not a teenager or twenty-something anymore, I don't know if it was successful with those demographic groups, but for myself, it was a worthy addition to the Columbo films and kept me glued to the screen.

Kudos to director Jeffrey Reiner and writer Michael Alaimo for creating a believable and gripping story with three-dimensional characters that Columbo could play along with. If you thought recent Columbo movies were still stuck in the 70s and 80s in their style, check this one out! I'm sure it was the director's previous work as an editor that helped create the never-dull-and-always-something-worthwhile-to-watch pacing. The rave scene was a good idea for the background for this story. It contrasts nicely with Columbo's polite and conservative character traits.

And it was fun to see Steve Schirripa (who plays Bobby on the Sopranos) in a small role. I would have liked to see more of him, but that's a minor quibble.

Keep up the excellent work! I would definitely want to see the same director and writer creating future Columbo movies. As for Peter Falk, he's irreplaceable! It's great seeing him in anything.

Catch this movie on DVD if it ever comes out in this format (fingers crossed) or on TV. 9/10

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Double Murder, Double Thumbs UP!

Author: ( from London. Ontario
30 January 2003

Columbo at it's best. Good fun. This movie seems to be a little darker than usual in the sense that it seems to take place mostly at night. The main character(The killer), is a little weak but Falk is in usual top-form. The obviousness of every columbo script remains alive but the matter-of-fact/ness was not as evident as portrayed in the classics. Good and interesting twist in the end by solving the first murder through the process of solving the second by default. As usual, top notch with a surprise appearance by a Sopranos Regular. The only thing I particularly didn't like was the movie soundtrack. Techno to suit the movie theme, but not to suit the Columbo dynasty. I recommend it if you enjoy the masterfullness of Columbo himself.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A New Style For Columbo

Author: stubbers from Essex
28 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a shame this was the last ever Columbo. If only there had been "just one more thing": a final send-off episode, featuring the Lieutenant reluctantly forced to retire but not before solving his most impressive case! Back in the 70s "The Conspirators" was a perfect way to end the original series - an epic, "fin-de-siecle" episode that closed the chapter with its fitting slogan: "this far and no farther".

As it stands "Columbo Likes The Nightlife" doesn't feel like the last ever Columbo ever, it feels like the start of something new. This is why it's a shame: Columbo had turned a corner with this episode, still finding its feet with the new style, and had a few more episodes been created in the same vein we could have had a last hurrah for the Lieutenant (as opposed to a last salute for the commodore!).

If anything, the new direction of "Columbo Likes The Nightlife" is almost like a return to the very first appearance of "Columbo" in "Prescription Murder". It's interesting to compare the first and last episodes, and in fact they have more in common than maybe first apparent. For starters, the character Columbo in each episode is slightly less goofy and pretend-dumb: the murderers know he isn't stupid (unlike your "Death Lends A Hand" and "Columbo Goes To College" type episodes in which he readily plays the fool). He's definitely more serious here and the style of the piece is less wacky and whimsical than usual.

If the humour is downplayed in an episode of Columbo, what replaces it? In this case, as with the original episode, what replaces it is genuine suspense. A male murderer with a female accomplice both have to deny knowing each other (well, in "Prescription Murder" they know each other professionally but have to deny they are having an affair). Matthew Rhys is a new kind of Columbo villain in terms of appearance and fashion, however typically charming and "respectable" when dealing with Columbo (though with a not very secret dark side). Jennifer Sky was absolutely superb in this episode as his accomplice. Not only is she stunning, her acting was really pitch-perfect, getting more and more worried as the net closes in.

Another similarity with the original episode is the modishness of the setting. In fact, the best Columbos (apart from a few of the late 70s ones) tended to revolve around some new fad or new technology, very indicative of their era. Whereas "Prescription Murder" was very late-60s with its cheese and wine parties, "Columbo Likes The Nightlife" was a pretty good snapshot of early 00s rave culture. I was heavily into the culture at the time (we all go through that phase when we are growing up!) so it was frankly amazing to see Columbo enter that world, and what's more do it with style and lightness of touch. The world of rave is not really that different from the world of magic, a la "Now You See Him" and the Great Santini. After all, it's all done with smoke and mirrors. And, as I have said in my other reviews, any Columbo that features an outwardly glamorous backdrop makes a great setting for intrigue and foul play.

Any faults with "Columbo Likes The Nightlife" and this return to the serious, cutting-edge type Columbo? Not his age. Somehow Columbo appeared to be slightly younger here than in the previous few episodes, maybe it was his seriousness and that there was less of his absent-minded rambling and shuffling about here. I think Peter Falk definitely had at least one, if not two or three more episodes left in him after this. He was as sharp as ever.

The ending was ever so slightly disappointing for two reasons: one, if the music was stopped at a rave people wouldn't just stand around in silence, there would be catcalls and "wtf" reactions from the crowd! It would totally confuse the ravers to be honest. And the evidence about the fish kind of came out of leftfield, which to be fair happens in loads of Columbos. Maybe I need to rewatch it to see just how quickly he picked up on the discrepancy in the numbers of fish.

All in all though, this is an interesting, original and excellent episode made even better by the wonderful Jennifer Sky and daring use of the rave environment. "Columbo Likes The Nightlife" ended up being an artistic statement that seems to say: just because Columbo is in his mid-70s, this is not an old show or a show aimed at the nostalgia market, this is a serious piece of modern police drama aimed at a younger audience (hopefully without alienating the die-hard fans who remembered the show from decades ago).

On that level, you have to say it works tremendously!

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