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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 out of 5
Who ever thought of casting Whoopi Goldberg was definitely thinking outside the box. A slight Jewisish man becomes a black woman, one of the more drastic book-to-film changes.
But its all pretty fun, like Whoopi's attempt at being Chevy Chase in "Fletch," with Lesley Ann Warren, Bobcat Goldthwait, even John Goodman in a small role. But i have a theory about adaptations, no matter how many changes or how bad it is, there's usually something or someone that's absolutely perfect, and for "Burglar" it's G.W. Bailey as Ray Kirschman, perfect casting.
All in all it's not as good as the book, but they hardly ever are. It's worth i look, maybe a rental or a cheap buy (I paid 3 bucks for mine)