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Good Movie, perfect WG vehicle.
glsilva24 December 2005
I really enjoyed this movie, actually I've enjoyed it a number of viewings. I purchased the DVD. Why did Whoopie stop making movies that were so much fun. I enjoyed the books for which the movie is based, and prefer a woman to a man as a cat burglar. The cast is wonderful, especially Leslie Ann Warren, she is a total hoot. I won't spoil the ending but it was really cool. The atmosphere while they are bar-hopping is so realistic, having been a bar-hopper in my youth in San Francisco. Why isn't Hollywood making these little sleeper hits anymore. Now its all big budget busts, or small artsy fartsy movies. How about a well played mystery without the "Big" named pretty boys and girls as stars. More movies like this and perhaps the box office slump will not stop slumping...
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Whoopi's Finest
johnny-w5 February 2010
Whoopi Goldberg? AND Bobcat Goldthwait? In the same movie?! Well, it's official - my wife owes me $50 - she swore that they were the same person!

All kidding aside, folks, this movie is a gem and I'm not sure how I'd overlooked it in the past. I recently got laid off so I have been spending a lot of time around the house doing my wife's Cosmo quizzes and drinking Colt 45. Needless to say, I have a lot of free time to watch movies.

So the other day, I walked down to the local video store, and fished around the used VHS bin to see if I could get a steal. I pulled out this movie, thought the cover looked hilarious, and thought I'd give it a try. For only 99 cents (without tax), what could I have to lose?

Folks, I would have gladly paid TWICE that amount! This film is truly Goldberg's finest work (and trust me, I love The View! Did I mention that I was laid off?!), and her on-screen chemistry with Goldthwait (Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, Hot to Trot) is brilliant. John Goodman (The Babe) adds some extra laughs, making this film a well-rounded comedic masterpiece to be appreciated by all. Why this film is so often ignored, I have no idea. Do yourselves a favor and grab a copy. You won't be "robbed" of a fun experience!
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A comedy where the actors, situations and lines outshine the limp plot.
vb1der16 June 2002
Burglar is one of the movies on my top 50 funniest movie list. Unlike other reviews here, I rate it higher than Jumping Jack Flash. Perhaps its because this is a great movie for Bobcat's normally irritating character. Strange that there are no quotes for this movie! She and Bobcat have some truly great (although obscene) lines. Whoopie's scene in the closet while the soon-to-be-murdered character was screwing his ex-wife is hilarious. Bobcat has great scenes in the bar delivering a package, and later being interrogated John Goodman in the police station. The actors are all 2-dimensional but that only feeds the comedic aspects of the interaction of the stereotypes. The police-proofed apartment that Whoopie owns is a scream.
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You'd, like, steal a building, but not a jar of olive oil?
dwr24610 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Another in a series of comic vehicles for Whoopi Goldberg in the late 80's, this one features a pretty well crafted mystery buried in amongst the comedy.

Bernie Rhodenbarr (Whoopi Goldberg) is a cat burglar by trade. She would like to retire into respectability, but unfortunately, Ray Kirschman (G. W. Bailey), a retired police detective who once busted Rhodenbarr, is now blackmailing her into stealing for him. During one of her "jobs" for Kirschman, Bernie is surprised when Christopher Marshall (Stephen Shellen), the man she's stealing from, comes home unexpectedly. Bernie hides in the bedroom closet, but Marshall isn't alone, and when he and his companion decide to hit the sheets, Bernie is trapped there for the night. In the morning, Bernie overhears and argument between Marshall and someone who comes to see him. Then she hears the sounds of a struggle, and then silence. Eventually, she emerges from the closet to find Marshall dead on the floor with a rather strange looking object sticking out of his chest. She leaves, but is ultimately fingered as both a murder and robbery suspect. She spends the rest of the movie trying to clear herself with a little help from sidekick Carl Hefler (Bobcat Goldthwait), all the while eluding two bumbling detectives (John Goodman and Anne DeSalvo), and dealing with Marshall's widow (Leslie Ann Warren) and her attorney (James Handy). Will she find the truth, will Kirschman turn her in, or will the killer do her in?

In spite of some occasional far fetched elements, this is actually a pretty well crafted mystery. Rhodenbarr is resourceful, and that resourcefulness not only helps to keep her out of jail as well as allowing her to figure out who really killed Marshall. The story is told in a comic way, but it is quite credible, nonetheless.

The acting was quite enjoyable. Goldberg, of course, turns in a masterful performance. Warren's over the top hysterics work well with her character, and show just how much range she has. Goodman and DeSalvo are amusing as the bumbling detectives. Goldthwait and Bailey are rather annoying, as is par for the course with both of them, but they do manage to make their characters work. And Handy's performance is nicely layered between the public face as an upright lawyer, and the private face as a disturbed man capable of shocking violence.

Yes, it's a silly movie, but if you look beneath the silliness, you may be surprised to find a well crafted whodunit. And either way, it's just an enjoyable movie.
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good 80's movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
matthew8713 March 2003
I liked this movie because the music is kind of spooky and dated.But the intense scenes are the best.great san francisco scenes and some great actors.James handy who usally plays a bad authority figure does the same thing here in this movie.I think this is 100 times better then jumping jack flash.
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The laughs are well hidden...
moonspinner5524 February 2008
One of Whoopi Goldberg's many post-"Color Purple" blunders, a half-comic/half-serious rendering of Lawrence Block's series of stories about a cat burglar who witnesses a murder while robbing a house. Swinging wildly from farce to suspense, director Hugh Wilson's schizophrenic rhythm never finds an appropriate tone, and as such we never warm to Whoopi's character. Lowest point is her scene in the dentist chair, getting her teeth drilled in what may be an unofficial--yet totally unfunny--nod to "Marathon Man". It's always nice to see John Goodman helping out, but a little of Bob Goldthwait goes a very long way. *1/2 from ****
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A genre-less film with very few good moments
bass-player-blues13 March 2009
I recently saw this movie in a bargain bin at a store and became excited when I read the back cover. It appeared to have everything that I love in a film - comedy, action, Bob Goldthwait, and was made in my favorite era (the late 80's). I eagerly popped it in the DVD player when I got home and it starting off fairly promising with a suspenseful burglar scene and cool 80's soundtrack music. But then the plot just droops off into a depressingly boring cesspool of garbage. About 20 min into it you're left thinking "this isn't going to get any better is it?" The movie is hardly funny at all despite tricking you into thinking that with a large array of comedic actors in the cast. The film has more of a gritty cop drama type feel with a dark club-like nature. I like that, but this movie shouldn't be played out that way. So basically it's stuck in the middle without a genre. The main highlights of the film are its cool 80's pop/rock soundtrack, slight Miami Vice-like feel, and Bob Goldthwait in some scenes. Although, I'm a big fan of Goldthwait and this film doesn't showcase his hilariousness nearly as well as others. Whoopi Goldberg has a strange character that leaves you thinking "Huh?" in almost every scene. Her character isn't likable at all much less funny or anything else.
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Poor film that was dated even when it was made and has so few good lines it hurts
bob the moo29 June 2003
Bernice Rhodenbarr is a cat burglar and used book shop owner. When an ex-cop comes to her with a threat to hand in evidence that he withheld years ago that would incriminate her, she is forced to do a job for him. She agrees to steal a woman's jewellery back from her ex-husband after a messy split. She carries out the crime but is interrupted and has to hide. When she comes out of hiding she finds the man dead and her bag of jewels gone. In order to clear herself she must find out who would want the man dead before the cops can get to her.

There was a time in Whoopi Goldberg's career where they constantly tired to use her smart mouth and streetwise appearance to make her into a female Eddie Murphy. This film appears to be another attempt to use her streetwise wit to good effect. The plot is some form of murder mystery with Bernie being framed and hunted by the police while she tries to catch the real killer. It's nothing we haven't seen before but it's just not very well done here. I struggled to care about the people that Bernie was chasing because I didn't know who they were – partly because the film didn't really explain as most of them are red herrings in preparation for the `twist' at the end.

In terms of tension the film is lacking and as a result I never really got into it. On top of this it's main selling point, the smart comedy, is seriously missing. There was one maybe two good lines in it and none of those was delivered by Whoopi. In fact you could be mistaken for thinking this film wasn't a comedy as there are so very few laughs in it. The whole thing feels very dated – I imagine that even when it was released in the cinema people must have looked at it and gone `whoa, that's soooo eighties'!

Whoopi is poorly used and is sold short by a very ordinary script, but she does have a good support cast to help her out. Sadly they are all sold short as well. Goldthwait is the only one who is allowed to do anything amusing, Goodman, Warren, Bailey, and Handy are all pretty much window dressing so badly are they used.

Overall this film is one from a series of films aiming for the same effect (see Fatal Beauty, Jumpin Jack Flash etc) but here the film totally fails to make good on any of it's assets. The plot is boring and overly convoluted given that we all know it'll turn out to be the least likely main character in the film, and the comedy (usually OK in even average Whoopi films like this) is AWOL. A pretty horrid way to waste 90 minutes – unrelentingly dull.
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Uneven Effort
ReelCheese1 January 2007
The IMDb votes for BURGLAR are all over the place. Substantial segments of users graded it 6/10, 5/10, 4/10 and 3/10. A notable percentage also voted 7/10 and 1/10. Such divisions only reinforce what is obvious to anyone who's seen this Whoopi Goldberg vehicle -- it's an extremely uneven effort.

One of BURGLAR's biggest strengths is that it hits the ground running. Whoopi is great in the opening scenes, disguised as a fat-bottomed ol' lady ripping off a small piece of a rich man's riches. This sets the stage nicely for what promises to be a fast-paced blend of comedy, action, and snappy dialog. The film continues at a surprisingly entertaining level as our thieving hero, owing 25 G's to keep the lid on past misdeeds, agrees to snatch back some jewelry for a bitter ex-wife. Only things go terribly wrong when her target is murdered before she can make a clean getaway. Now she's the chief suspect and, just as O.J. once famously pledged, must find the real killer.

Unfortunately, it's at this point, when our expectations are highest, that BURGLAR begins to fall apart. The film grows progressively (and unnecessarily) lewd and at times downright dreary (particularly the out-of-place climax). Though there are a couple of laughs, much of the humor is so painfully unfunny you almost cringe. Performance wise, Whoopi is at the top of her game. But hard ass/cutie pie act -- punching men in the groin one minute and making wisecracks the next --never really works. Spastic comic Bobcat Goldthwait is as zany as ever as her best pal, but no one seemed to realize that his is an act meant to be taken in much smaller doses than this.

BURGLAR would have worked much better as a straight action thriller. Its insistence on trying to be humorous is what hurts it the most. Of course under no circumstances would this be a classic. But at the end of it all, you get the sense BURGLAR could have been more than it was.
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What were they thinking?
speedny719 May 2003
Terrible. This is not a funny movie, nor is it an action movie. This movie just reeks of mediocrity. This movie was an early sign of how terrible Whoopi Goldberg can truly be. Luckily, I'm pretty sure most people avoided this movie from the start.
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Great Book, Terrible Movie
epg-211 July 2004
The book the movie is based on -- Burglars Can't Be Choosers -- and the whole Bernie Rhodenbarr series by Lawrence Block are simply marvelous books - must reads! This movie does a great disservice to the book. The casting choices are odd, given that Bernie is a male character -- and is played by Whoopi Goldberg -- and Carolyn (Carl here) is female, played by Bobcat Goldwaith. This effort to be clever is really a smokescreen for a badly written adaptation. The book is delightful and a joy to read, the movie is heavy handed and dark, with none of the light charms of the original text. My advice to you is simple: In this case, avoid the movie, read the book!
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A good B+ action comedy--the cast is better than the
randy-14215 October 2000
Whoopi made three action comedies in the late 80's: Fatal Beauty, Jumping Jack Flash and this one. None of them are deathless cinema or comparable to her later stuff, but they are all better than their reviews would generally indicate. They usually get 1* reviews -- I would give them 2 to 2 1/2 (out of 5*), especially if you are a fan of Ms Goldberg. All three of these films are worthy of a couple of $ for a rental or sticking with through a late night rerun. With all three, it does take a first rate cast to bring some rather tired material to life, but there are a lot worse films getting a lot better reviews--check 'em out for yourself!
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Great Movie from the1980's
macbug13 December 2011
I believe most of the people who claim they did not like this movie, were over thinking it. This is a funny, well done movie. It mixes a lot of great work, especially from "Bobcat", my favorite is his delivery in the Mayday bar, this movie is so 80's. Maybe it rubs some wrong, but if you were an adult in the late 1980's, this movie would be a real treat. Unfortunately many of the jokes are for Americans and our culture; I can understand it not working for other English speakers, such as Canadians, etc. A lot of slang, and *#@! ^& etc. I almost forgot the most offensive part of the movie for those politically correct tobacco Nazis. Almost everyone including Whoopi is shown smoking, and smoking and enjoying it!!! That's right kids it was a widely practiced social interaction between people especially the opposite sex. Just look at it as a time travel back to the 1980's, sex, drugs and rock and road were still alive and well, big hair, and all the rest. You either love it or hate it.
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Very funny
president-1828 January 2006
I'm surprised the reviews for this movie are so negative. I found it to be very funny. Bob Goldthwait plays, well, himself in two scenes that literally had me on the floor.

It may not be a masterpiece, but the characters are all played well and the storyline is serviceable. Goldberg carries the movie well enough and has good support from everyone else, but really, Goldthwait steals the movie with his scenes.

There is a chase scene that's rather underwhelming, but after the chase scenes in the Matrix Reloaded and Terminator 3, almost everything is. Aside from that, the directing is solid.

I enjoyed this movie and continue to enjoy with successive watchings. Keep an eye out in discount bins and you can score this movie for four bucks. I think it's worth it.
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My GOD why did they make Bernie a woman?
badkittyuno13 April 2003
I love the Bernie Rhondenbarr books (written by Lawrence Block) and was thrilled to learn on his website that a movie version had been made of "Burglar in the Closet" that I'd never seen (give me a break - I was like 3 years old when it came out). Then, I read that Bernie was played by Whoopi Goldberg. Nothing against Whoopi, but that's horrifying. Bernie works so well in the books because he is this strange little Jewish man, not because he is a loud, obnoxious black woman. Doesn't fit. I saw the movie anyway, and was hugely disappointed. Maybe if I was unfamiliar with the books, I could have enjoyed it more, but instead I came away feeling upset with the butchery of a character I adore. I have heard, however, that Block has considered turning "Burglars Can't be Choosers" into a film starring George Clooney. I hope it will fare better.
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Insulting to Cat Burglers Everywhere
annmason11 February 2006
This is a movie that doesn't make sense, but the viewer is not supposed to notice that. It is hoped, apparently, that Whoppi Goldberg's hip and nasty mouth and behavior are reason enough to watch. Not so.

Even smart asses need some kind of logic, and here we have Whoppi once again assuming that just being herself is sufficient. Again, not so. Plus, it is somewhat irritating to watch a "cat burglar" (didn't Cary Grant make this variety of thief chic?) sitting down, lighting up, and almost blowing the job. Come on, aren't there Union rules? Then, of course, she has to go into a comedy routine the second time around, with the same results.

As a "What's Up Doc" fan, I am profoundly offended that the hackneyed San Francisco chase scene was stuck in. If you're going to do it, do it right.

Bobcat Goldthwait is wonderful. The scene in the police interrogation room is one of the best comedy bits I've watched. Bobcat saves the movie. Use a remote and turn the sound up whenever he's on. If that could be done, I'd rate this movie a 5.
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Burglar Blows It *
edwagreen14 January 2006
The story line of "Burglar" starts off well. It shows Whoopi Goldberg, dressed as an elderly fat woman, ripping off a house. When it appears that she is caught, she becomes hysterical, leading the owner and his friend to think that she saw who did this.

She is next referred to a dentist, who wants her jewels back from her ex-husband. Trouble is that while Whoopi is in the house, the ex returns and is soon murdered.

It is at this point that the movie goes downhill rapidly. It is unclear how Whoopi tries to clear her name. In other words, you don't understand how she got the leads to pursue the real killer.

Lesley Ann Warren plays the dentist nicely. Unfortunately, her part disappears for most of this picture. Too bad that the writing didn't go away as well.

We do have somewhat of an exciting car chase with the resulting crackups, but this is too predictable. As always, beware of those crooked attorneys.
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Not As Bas As I'd Heard
LeaBlacks_Balls21 February 2010
In 1985 Whoopi Goldberg made her film debut in 'The Color Purple' and gave one of the best performances of all time. After the success of 'The Color Purple' it seemed like Hollywood wasn't really sure how to find the right fit for Goldbergs talents. In 1986 and 1987, she starred in three action comedies, 'Jumpin' Jack Flash,' 'Fatal Beauty,' and 'Burglar.' It seemed like Hollywood was trying to mold her into a female Eddie Murphy.

Of the three, 'Burglar' is easily the best. Goldberg plays Bernice Rhodenbarr, a cat burglar and used book shop owner. When an ex-cop comes to her with a threat to hand in evidence that he withheld years ago that would incriminate her, she is forced to do a job for him. She agrees to steal a dentist's jewelery back from her ex-husband after a messy split. She carries out the crime but is interrupted and has to hide. When she comes out of hiding she finds the man dead and her bag of jewels gone. In order to clear herself she must find out who would want the man dead before the cops can get to her.

While 'Fatal Beauty' was too dark, and 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' was too scatter-shot, 'Burglar' manages to find a good balance between the comedy and the action. Most of the comedy comes from Goldberg, who plays the smart-ass, streetwise type very well. The rest of the laughs come from Bobcat Goldthwait, playing Goldberg's manic friend, and Lesley Ann Warren, playing the frazzled dentist. The rest of the cast plays it straight, not attempting to upstage the star, and it works well.

The film does have it's major flaws. Some sequences drag on too long, some of the comedy falls flat, and the movie is filled with clichéd twists and turns. But when the film works, it works, thanks completely to Goldberg.
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I Tat I Taw A Putty Cat...Burglar!
vertigo_1422 April 2004
Whoopie Goldberg is Bernie, a fast-talking ex-convict. She's not yet been able to give up the robbery work, despite constant reminders at the climax of each heist how she's "getting too old for this." And she would give it up were it not for Ray Kirschman (G.W. Bailey--he was Captain Harris in Police Academy), a detective who is hounding Bernie for $25,000 and a mink coat for his wife to keep from turning over evidence that could put her back behind bars. However, due to their friendly relationship, though Bernie is very calculating around Ray, it's hard to believe he would be a guy that would be blackmailing her. And halfway through the movie, they're hardly at odds with each other at all.

Bailey lets Bernie onto a high stakes heist. Dr. Cynthia Sheldrake (Leslie Anne Warren) is a dentist. Her patients are mostly illegal immigrants, so they pay in cash. With the cash, she and her husband bought some pretty expensive jewels, totaling somewhere around a hundred thousand or more. When they split up, Sheldrake's husband kept the jewels at his place and she wants them back. That's where Bernie comes into the picture. One last heist to make enough money to square with Bailey and in the end, get out of the business for good. It seems easy enough. That is, until Sheldrake's husband is murdered while Bernie was hiding out in the closet. And now, she's the prime suspect. But Bernie, a smart cookie that she is, isn't about to go down without a fight. And, she seems to be the only really intent on serving the murder and prove her innocence. And it isn't going to be easy.

Burglar isn't a whole lot of comedy as much as it is a murder mystery. Of course, with Whoopie Goldberg in the lead, you can expect a load of funny antics as Bernie sweet talks her way through the story with the help of her slurring spastic friend, Carl (Bobcat Goldwaith) who has some pretty funny moments himself, especially during the interrogation scene with John Goodman. Also, there's a pretty good chase scene as the cops chase Bernie through the wild hilly asphalt of San Fransico, with some of the chase done with camera views from the bumpers. But the movie, like I said before, is largely a murder mystery.

Unfortunately, the audience may start losing interest towards the end, as Bernie seems to have her end of the mystery solved. The movie puts on the brakes once she reports her findings to the wife Sheldrake and everyone drags their feet around deciding what to do then. By then, any suspense of Bernie's snooping around, is turned into a totally dull bit of scenes followed by a pretty lame conclusion. So, I'd say the movie was decent at least up to the end.
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Poor adaptation of a really entertaining novel
milesahead124 May 2020
I've always believed that Elliot Gould would have been the perfect choice to play Bernie Rhodenbarr - Whoopi Goldberg is terribly miscast.

The movie might have survived the miscasting error, had the screenplay been better written, alas, it misses all the style of the source novel.

It's a mystery why Hollywood studios have struggled to successfully adapt the novels of Block (with the latest 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' being easily the best of all the adaptations). The novels of his friend, Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) have been similarly mishandled, with only a couple doing justice to the source material.
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There Should Be a Law Against Making Movies Like This.
phillafella27 October 2003
BURGLAR is a stupid outing for Whoopi, who plays a cat burglar who witnesses a murder and becomes wanted for it. Now she has to find the person responsible for the murder before it's too late. Everyone seems wasted in this film, and not even Goldberg is any help this time. At least her role in JUMPIN' JACK FLASH was interesting. She took the money and ran on this one, resulting in a film with poor acting and lack of direction. A near-total waste.

1 out of 5
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Early Whoopi Goldberg Comedy Trifle
soranno5 November 2002
The totally unbelievable plot of this 1987 Warner Brothers release has to do with cat burglar Whoopi Goldberg changing into a law abiding citizen when she works to solve a murder case. This rather weak comedy was oddly originally intended to star Bruce Willis.
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Ending has a stranger twist than the rest of the film.
laureate17 January 1999
Story of ex-con being bribed by an ex-cop, and is hired by a dentist to cat burlar her ex husband, only the ex husband gets murdered and the ex wife is getting blamed and she in turn is blaming the ex-con who disappears to look for the real murder because she was in the closet when the guy got murdered. The Ending has a stranger twist the the rest of story believe it or not. It is hilarious through and through.
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Not a Fan
view_and_review8 November 2019
Two movies made roughly the same time. Both starring a woman with an androgynous name and androgynous clothing. Both with a mystery to solve. Both starring Whoopi Goldberg. The movies were Jumpin' Jack Flash and this one. What was the deal with Whoopi in '86 and '87?

In this movie she's a cat burglar that spends time doing everything but stealing while she's on the job. On one job she overhears a murder and is immediately the blame. Now she has to figure out who the real murderer is to clear her name.

I never was a big fan of Whoopi and this movie didn't change my mind. She had a distinct look and voice, she turned it into a successful entertainment career, kudos to her, but I think I'm done with her movies.
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Burgar steals your interest, but not your heart
videorama-759-8593913 September 2015
One wonders how Whoopi Goldberg, ever became a movie star, but then we're remembered about how good she was in The Color Purple. Burglar is interesting I guess in a strange or enigmatic sense, but one thing it isn't: funny, not even remotely. I can't even believe this was based on the Lawrence Block novels. The movie almost makes you forget you're watching a comedy. It takes itself too seriously for one thing, where they should of really concentrated on one genre. The film too, throws in a couple of added touches, as if to compensate for what laughs there are, in this dry comedy, and slightly dry film. Examples here, is not a badly shot car chase, down those dangerously steep S.F. streets, with too many close ups of cars, flying over ascents. It's hammy. It also, purposely throws in one still slanted street CU shot, you never see coming, featuring cops, Goodman and DeSalvo. You feel like you with them on that incline, a kind of cool shot but really a stupid one. I've never seen a movie do that before, but like I said, you feel this is compensating for it being a misfire, where we feel, too much is poured into this. The film actually starts off with promise in one nifty driven house robbery you could say, that nearly see our Granny disguised Whoopi, busted. The plot has crafty cat burglar/book shop owner Goldberg, set up and framed while knocking over a young stud's place, trying to retrieve some jewellery for an ex lover of the deceased. What I really liked in this movie, though was the surprisingly good performances from the supporting cast, especially G.W. Bailey, while Goodman again make you stand take notice of how good an actor he is, or was too, before I first saw him in Sea Of Love. Vyto Ruginis, was fun too, as a slick haired, bad dude thief, again acting in a film inspired by a Lawrence Block novel (he also acted in '86's', 8 Million Ways To Die, prefore). Bobcat Goldwaith is again annoying, yet likable, as Whoopi's friendless neighbor, save for Whoopi, where an interrogation scene got me more antagonized, than it did Goodman. As for Whoopi's performance, it's hard to tell if it's good or not with these 80's comedies. I felt I was just going through the motions with her. She wasn't really engaging, but she did have her moments. Small ones. Out of interest, or a Whoopi fan, Burglar is worth a view. It's not a bad film at all, but it was intended as a comedy, and on that note, it fails terribly.
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