Set in 1969, a twelve-year-old grows up in Key West with his mother, who is paying the bills by stripping at the local topless bar. The boy finds out about her activities and tries to convince her to stop, to no avail. A local restaurant owner hires him to collect fish from a boat out in the bay, and the boy discovers that the restaurant owner is using the fish to bring drugs in to shore. He steals one load and goes about selling it so his mother can afford to quit her job.Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
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[lines, done in voiceover]
These were the good old days, which Mom doesn't like me talking about. If I do, she says, "G.T.F.", which stands for "going too far". This is Mom's ladylike way of telling me to shut the fuck up.
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Goldie Hawn tackles a surprising role here, as a mom from the hard side of the tracks, and carries it off with notable success.
The setting is Key West in 1969. In the film, Goldie plays a single mom who's reduced to working in strip clubs after her husband, a former Navy pilot played by Keith Carradine, succumbs to PTSD, descends into drunkennes and eventually goes off to live in a monestary. At first, Goldie just slings drinks at the strip clubs. But in order to fulfill the dream, shared by her and her son, of once again living in a house rather than a run-down hotel, she graduates to bump 'n grind to bring in more money.
The son, played very well by David Arnott, is a 12-year old who is naturally wounded by his father's absence. He also becomes deeply upset when he discovers his mother is stripping. In addition, a new man enters her life, a writer played by Arliss Howard. This generates some resentment from the son.
The son, Chris, has a busy life beyond this. He hangs out with his good friend Buggs and goes out with his sister Termina. He also does many side-jobs to help out with money. One of his jobs involves delivering fish regularly from a ship at sea to the hotel cook. On one of his delivery runs he discovers that the fish are filled with cocaine. Thus begins the true plot of the movie, as Chris devises a scheme to sell drugs in order to save his mother from stripping.
This was the most unfortunate aspect of the film. While the basic concept of the plot wasn't bad, it culminates in a scene that fails to make sense. Since the screenplay was by Scott Sommer, based on his novella, one imagines he had it this way in the source material, but then again it may have been added for cinematic effect and structural closure. Basically, it didn't work.
Aside from this, the movie was well-played and largely enjoyable. The Key West locations are beautiful and sunny. You can almost feel the heat and humidity. Goldie looks great, and she drives a '59 Chrysler Imperial that's pretty cool even though it's seen better days. The overall milieu and characters are believable. David Arnott, in his first and, unfortunately, last role, gives an understated performance that should have launched a successful career. The soundtrack was actually cool enough to include Count Five's 'Psychotic Reaction.'
The pace of the film is slow, even lazy at times. This usually serves the film well but does lead to some leaden areas that shoot the boredom factor way up. There is also a lot of voice-over narration by Arnott. While it's nice to know what's in the character's head, they go overboard with it.
In the end this is a flawed film of small scope. It won't land on your list of classics but, despite its flaws, its earnestness, emotional complexity, good performances and great locations make it a pleasant way to spend a couple hours.
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