Wilder Napalm (1993) Poster

(1993)

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9/10
Jerry Springer meets the Fantastic Four in a photomat.
JLee-222 November 1998
This movie took the Jerry Springer approach to super-human power. "Wilder Napalm" is the kind of theme-based movie that I love, addressing the idea that prodigies in America are defined either by their gifts or by attempts to hide them. At the same time, the movie points out that every prodigy is only human, and no more to be feared or worshipped than any other human being. This was a great comedy, fun and human with that slight satiric edge.
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Brilliant!
Spirit-815 December 1998
Tim Burton would have been impressed with the carefully crafted cinematography of this piece. The imagery and symbolism speak more than the narrative, and the music and transitions are superb. The movie stands by itself. Watch closely!
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10/10
One of the best films of the 90's !
sevenbates18 March 2006
It does come out of left field, and REALLY isn't what you're expecting. But I love that. The most memorable movie experiences come from being surprised, if you ask me. If you haven't been tipped off about the mysterious "thing" that makes these brothers so odd...you're in for a treat.

The cast is fantastic, but not stretching so much that it's palpable. The special effects come out of nowhere (seriously, it's like an oddly dark romantic comedy until they do -- then WOW) and they're great. The overall cinematography is easy on the eyes, the editing and sound are very good quality, and the twisted story unfolds without clichés. While none of these aspects individually make it a blockbuster, the "what the hell?" factor ALONE makes it a film treasure.

The people who bash this movie make no sense. It's one of those often-overlooked flicks of the 90's that you've either never heard of, or love so much you jump at the mention of its title.

I'm in the latter group.
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10/10
A Cinematic Carnival!
VideoKidVsTheVoid16 January 2007
I used to watch this on either HBO or Showtime or Cinemax during the one summer in the mid 90's that my parents subscribed to those channels. I came across it several times in various parts and always found it dark, bizarre and fascinating. I was young then, in my early teens; and now years later after having discovered the great Arliss Howard and being blown away by "Big Bad Love" I bought the DVD of "Wilder Napalm" and re-watched it with my girlfriend for the first time in many years. I absolutely loved it! I was really impressed and affected by it. There are so many dynamic fluid complexities and cleverness within the camera movements and cinematography; all of which perfectly gel with the intelligent, intense and immediate chemistry between the three leads, their story, the music and all the other actors as well. It's truly "Cinematic". I love Arliss Howard's subtle intensity, ambivalent strength and hidden intelligence, I'm a big fan of anything he does; and his interplay with Debra Winger's manic glee (they are of course married) has that magic charming reality to it that goes past the camera. (I wonder if they watch this on wedding anniversaries?......."Big Bad Love" should be the next stop for anyone who has not seen it; it's brilliant.) And, Dennis Quaid in full clown make-up, sneakily introduced, angled, hidden and displayed by the shot selection and full bloomed delivery is of the kind of pure dark movie magic you don't see very often. Quaid has always had a sinister quality to him for me anyways, with that huge slit mouth span, hiding behind his flicker eyes lying in wait to unleash itself as either mischievous charm or diabolical weirdness (here as both). Both Howard and Quaid have the insane fire behind the eyes to pull off their wonderful intense internal gunslinger square-offs in darkly cool fashion. In fact the whole film has a darkly cool energy and hip intensity. It's really a fantastic film, put together by intelligence, imagination, agility and chemistry by all parties involved. I really cannot imagine how this got funded, and it looks pretty expensive to me, by such a conventional, imagination-less system, but I thank God films like this slip through the system every once in awhile. In a great way, with all of its day-glo bright carnival colors, hip intelligence, darkly warped truthful humor and enthralling chemistry it reminds me of one of my favorite films of all time: "Grosse Pointe Blank".......now that's a compliment in my book!
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7/10
Romantic comedy lights my fire
spindizzy15 May 2004
Brothers with psychokinetic powers (yes, really) duel not just for Debra Winger's affections but really over a secret from their childhood that left them at odds over their powers.

There are surreal touches (the fire brigade that act like a singing Greek chorus), but there is also humour, wit and romance. The soundtrack is great also. And similar to the way American Werewolf in London used every great Wolf song they could get ~ but with fire and I don't think I'll ever forget Dennis Quaid (mmmmm Dennis Quaid), setting his own trailer a rockin' too 'She's a lady' ~ priceless ;)

Best line missing from the quotes section btw ~ 'Once you've had a clown, you never go back!'

I love this movie (I just ordered the DVD from the US) and if the comments written by the kind of people who'd be happier with Legally Blond 3 don't put you off ~ give it a try :)
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7/10
Great portrayal of film music
dcstatehoodnow9 March 2005
The people who are bad-mouthing this film are those who don't understand film to begin with. These are the people who love movie blockbusters and adverse to any movie that doesn't star Leonardo DiCaprio. Wilder Napalm is a neat little film that may seem quirky and maybe even stupid at first, but what it lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in substance.

One thing in particular about the movie that impressed me was it's use of music, which plays a large part. Those students of film music will notice how important music is in the movie, both in Vida and Wilder's life, and in the background. Wilder's theme, Vida's theme, and Wallace's theme are all heard in the opening sequence, and it is funny how some of the lyrics play out. For instance, in the scene where the men are singing "Duke of Earl", Vida is with Wilder when the men sing something like "She is my girl", and then she goes over to Wallace to give him something when the men sing the lyric "She will be my girl" cleverly showing the tension between the two brothers There are all sorts of little intricacies like this inside the movie, and while it may look like a flop on the outside, the real student of film will notice how good this movie really is.
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Flame on,Bubba!
bob dove15 November 1999
This is one of my favorite quirky movies. I've seen it several times and always enjoy it. Good storyline and very good cast, especially Arliss Howard and Debra Winger. The fire effects are quite well-done (pardon the expression) also.
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9/10
Pleasant Surprise
Oorag12 January 2000
Found this one in the video store and rented it. It's one of those quirky, quasi-comedies that's more interesting and weird than funny. It's a good one at that. It reminds me a lot of Being John Malkovich. If you enjoyed that movie you will most likely enjoy this one.
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10/10
Great movie well worth buying on DVD
matrix2917 November 2008
The characters were alive and interesting, the plot was excellently paced, the pyro effects were masterfully accomplished, and it takes a basic love triangle story and tosses in a science-fiction element into it. I could identify with many of the characters and their motivations made logical rational sense in the framework of the story.

The camera-work was great, the audio clear and accurate, the background music perfectly chosen for effect, the singing firemen a nice talented memorable oddity, the sets brilliantly crafted, and the special effects performed with a skilled talent.

I am a tad puzzled how an entire mini-carnival in a chain-store's parking lot could be powered by one single lamppost outlet. That seems impossible to say the least. The fight between the brothers near the end of the movie was brilliant though. Having Jim Varney in a non-clown role was a wonderful touch too as played the semi-serious role of a carny very well.
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7/10
Romantic comedy that lights my fire
spindizzy15 May 2004
Brothers with psychokinetic powers (yes, really) duel not just for Debra Winger's affections but really over a secret from their childhood that left them at odds over their powers.

There are surreal touches (the fire brigade that act like a singing Greek chorus), but there is also humour and romance. The soundtrack is great similar to the way American Werewolf in London used every great Wolf song they could get ~ but with fire ~ and I don't think I'll ever forget Dennis Quaid (mmmmm Dennis Quaid), setting his own trailer a rockin' to 'She's a lady' ~ priceless ;)

Best line missing from the quotes section btw ~ 'Once you've had a clown, you never go back!'

I love this movie (I ordered the DVD from the US) and if the comments written by the kind of people who'd be happier with Legally Blond 3 don't put you off ~ give it a try :)
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7/10
"Wilder Napalm"; odd, funny & original...
unclejay7330 July 2007
Here's a rare gem for those of you that haven't seen or most likely not even heard of this. During the 80s, Dennis Quaid was a hot commodity, but in the early 90s, Dennis Quaid disappeared from the scene. In 1993, he burst back onto the big screen with three movies, all of which unfortunately bombed. Two of those films I liked very much, and let me elaborate on one of them.

"Wilder Napalm" is a crazy flick about two brothers, Wallace (Quaid) and Wilder (Arliss Howard), whom are...fire starters: yes they have the power of pyrokinetics.

Wilder has decided not to use his power anymore (for anything not useful anyway) after a fatal incident during his youth, where he and his brother blew up an abandoned house which killed a man who was inside unbeknownest to them. Nowadays, Wilder is a firefighter and is married to the wacky Vida (Debra Winger), who is under house arrest for, guess what, arson (see the movie to understand this better). Wilder also hasn't spoken to Wallace in 5 years, because Wallace set his hair on fire during his bachelor party.

Wallace loves his pyro power and uses it for amusement. He also runs a Carnival and is the head clown. When the Carnival comes to Wilder's town, Wallace decides to reunite with his brother and also to see Vida, whom which Wallace has been in love with! Vida's house arrest sees its end, but Wilder is preoccupied. So, Wallace steps in and the fun begins. Brother vs. brother...fighting fire with fire!

Some great fireball throwing in this flick...eat your heart out, Drew Barrymore!

The film also has some really weird, yet funny elements, like Wilder's fire unit sings songs acapella during firefights and after wards. Jim Varney (globally known as 'Ernest') pops in as Wallace's redneck carnival buddy. "Wilder Napalm" is brilliantly shot...and cleverly put together...very off the wall and avant-guard.

Give this one a look...
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7/10
In Flammable
skallisjr13 October 2005
The film starts out very slowly, with the lifestyle of Wallace Napalm, an attendant at a photo-service drop-off station. His wife has been restricted to her home with an ankle bracelet as the result of a sentence for arson. Wallace is a member of the volunteer fire department, and takes firefighting seriously.

As we watch Wallace's rather dull life proceeding, suddenly there comes something new and jarring: a traveling carnival comes to town. One of its stars is Wilder Napalm, Wallace's brother. He's a clown, but he has a special talent.

So does Wallace. They're both pyrokineticists or "pyrotics," people capable of starting fires through mental energy. Wallace keeps his powers secret; Wilder lets his acquaintances know what he can do.

Spoiler: Some of their differences go back to a childhood incident where they inadvertently caused the death of a vagrant. Wallace holds back from using his powers; Wilder wants to go public on national TV.

Complicating the matter, Wilder wants Wallace's wife, whom they both dated years earlier. She becomes a bone of contention, and becomes one of the reason that the brothers finally have a literal firefight.

The film is entertaining, but not laugh-out-loud funny. I think enough of it to have a copy in my library. It's a good offbeat film.
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4/10
Sitcom inferno
moonspinner558 October 2006
Blazing saddles! It's a fight between two estranged brothers (Dennis Quaid and Arliss Howard), both of whom can ignite fires mentally; they square off over childhood differences, with dippy love-interest Debra Winger caught in the middle. Director Glenn Gordon Caron (the TV whiz-kid behind "Moonlighting") smothers the darkly-textured comedy in Vince Gilligan's screenplay with a presentation so slick, the movie resembles an entry from an over-enthusiastic film student on a fifteen million-dollar grant. It has the prickly energy of a big commercial feature, but a shapeless style which brings out nothing from the characters except their kooky eccentricities. These aren't even characters, they're plot functions. Barely-released to theaters, the film is a disaster, although strictly as an example of style over substance it does look good. Winger is the only stand-out in a cast which looks truly perplexed. *1/2 from ****
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9/10
Sloppy Art
travisammons7 August 2020
Arliss Howard has GOT 2 BE ONE OF THE MOST UNDER-RATED ACTORS to ever give an honest shot at tackling the silver screen. He masters and mutates within every role, making it seem as if he & only he could've of played (nailed) that particular rolr. Be it BIG BAD LOVE or WILDER NAPALM or his INCREDIBLE take on the war in Kubrick s phenomenal FULL METAL JACKET!! His work alone should have you hunting down this unknown gem right now let alone all the other exceptional performances from some great talent early in their careers. I won't tell you the supporting cast so's you could be as pleasantly surprised as I was while watching the film's opening credits. You should watch everything Howard's done. Why not start here. This is one of his rare funny films. 9 stars and I'm not being generous. This is a wild film. Hot!!!
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6/10
Loved the idea
Sergiodave16 October 2020
This movie has some great actors, a surreal Tim Burton style feel to it, but left me thinking is that it. I really enjoyed the characters and acting but the finale was like a damp squib, A shame, but I can understand why others love it.
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Successful teacher for Hollywood, and unsuccessful student of it !
elshikh426 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to begin by saying that the best of this movie is (Debra Winger). But Oh God, of course there is more and more..

The story is pretty old: 2 brothers who have issues, a girl who's loved by 2 guys, a husband who doesn't express his feelings.. Namely some things that we have watched for countless times in movies and TV. However, this time, all of that is made in *another way*. It has: 2 superheroes that can make fire anytime, anywhere, and at any size. The girl is a fire magnet. One of the brothers is a clown who works at a circus. And it's where the old songs go off surprisingly by the movie's characters!

The quirky taste is lovable and well-done. I felt (Tim Burton), the early (Coan) Brothers, and (Disney) with a black twist. However, it managed to have an originality of its own. There is unmistakable mirth and warmth in dealing with the characters, their feelings, and drama. The passions are expressed with distinct tricks. Remember the long zoom-out in which a breathe of love connects 2 characters in 2 places at one time; from the roller-coaster to the hot iron.

The characters are so fresh, unfamiliar, and brilliantly written, so it's not about changing the form only. The movie's scriptwriter, (Glenn Gordon Caron), wrote before classic TV shows such as (Remington Steele - 1982) and (Moonlighting - 1985), where romantic comedy, with endless fierce disputes of 2 lovers, is mixed with action. This round, he wasn't away from his area. The fun is enjoyable to the utmost. I loved the scene where the 3 main characters were facing each other in police custody, that was the funniest and the most enjoyable. As you see, this movie was clever superficially and substantially as well, being unpredictable, whether in terms of "What will come up next?", and "How it will be pictured?".

The action sequences are dazzling and cartoonish. The editing understood both the romantic and the dynamic nature of the whole thing, hence kept the tone smoothly sad at times, blazingly energetic at times, and even slightly dismal at others. The movie's character is coherent though, standing alone as a colorful circus clown with unhappy face sometimes.

According to this movie, (Arliss Howard) is frankly underrated. Or maybe the producers didn't rate him rightly at all. He was that firefighter who fights his inner fire by suppressing it. (Dennis Quaid) did a one-of-a-kind performance. This guy had the power to be handsome lover, noisy antagonist, vicious clown and good actor all at once. He delivered classic effort no less. All the minor roles was done finely, acting is flawless here.

And now, to the movie's icon: (Debra Winger) as (Vida Foudroyant). Clearly that infantile, crazy, and emotive character was something else on paper, but it became something great on film, because of (Winger)'s magical electricity and truthful performance. For me, she was the movie's real wilder napalm.

So, in general, what could be wrong with this beautiful ride?! I wouldn't say the matter of a rubbery ceiling that exposes the wives' cheating, rather: The climactic sequence.

It seemed absurd when the 2 brothers fight each other, competing at destroying everything around. It reminded me with an old short animated movie that has 2 giant monsters doing a competition of "Who could eat more than the other?", which ended with them eating up the terrestrial globe, having no apparent end for their hunger! If the idea was seeing the sane brother's ability of getting mad, then it's nothing but a repetition of the last battle at home, yet bigger and louder. Plus, showing the heroic core of him by his revenge, and his ability of taking the decision of "stopping", didn't satisfy me a lot. And if it was a try to get a little Hollywood, then this is where the movie gets silly. Because if that was the goal, then why not inventing an evil guy, which the 2 brothers team up to beat, everyone by his own way, and his own power? Imperfect climax for a perfect movie anyway.

This was made while time wasn't watching. It's upsetting that it failed commercially. And it's even more upsetting when you notice that as much as we get away from the 1980s, this kind of experiments fades away. At any case, Hollywood genre movies of today must watch this movie and learn. However, still the worst part is when this movie itself went to be "Hollywood", with the bad meaning of the word.
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5/10
weird dysfunction family rom-com
SnoopyStyle15 February 2015
Wilder (Arliss Howard) and Wallace Foudroyant (Dennis Quaid) are pyrokinetic brothers. They have kept their abilities a secret since their childhood when they accidentally killed a vagrant. Wilder is a button down Kwik Foto booth worker, volunteer firefighter with pyromaniac wife Vida (Debra Winger) who is under trailer arrest. She accidentally carelessly set a fire. Wallace is a clown in a traveling circus with friend Rex (Jim Varney). The circus comes to town and Wallace gets in between Wilder and Vida. Wallace wants to use his powers on the David Letterman show. The brothers haven't seen each other since Wallace burned Wilder's hair off when Wilder married Vida.

The movie is trying to be a wacky weird rom-com and a dysfunctional family drama. I like Debra Winger throwing caution to the winds. She comes closest to actually getting a laugh. However I don't think Arliss Howard is big enough to anchor the movie. Dennis Quaid is wacky dark. I don't think the chemistry works at all. It's Vince Gilligan's first credit and I understand the idea behind his script. It's an off-center rom-com and dysfunctional brotherly relationship. The dialog isn't actually sharp and it's not funny. It's a little odd but nothing more.
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5/10
Somewhat entertaining movie about feuding mind-starting fire brothers from the creator of Medium (and Breaking Bad believe it or not!)
mbs6 August 2012
I'm not sure if i liked this movie or disliked it quite honestly. Its something i'd long had on my back burner in terms of movies i'd long wanted to see but never actually got around to--this one being the only feature (that i'm aware of at least) directed by Medium (and Moonlight) creator Glenn David Caron which for me has long made it a curiosity at least. Factor in the fact that it was written by the creator of Breaking Bad (seriously) Vince Gillian and you have the recipe for an underrated cult film that has some out gone without a cult for too long now. Unfortunately the movie itself is kind of well i don't really know how to describe it---its kind of all over the place. Tonally i suppose its going for a bittersweet depressive somewhat American Gothic feel as these 2 wildly differing brothers vie for the affections of this woman--except that the woman has already made the choice of which brother she wants to be with at the beginning of the movie which makes the rest of the movie somewhat pointless if you think about it but never mind that.

These 2 brothers by the way can start fires with their minds---the more outlandish of the two of em played by a very over the top Dennis Quaid has run away and joined a traveling carnival...the other is a much more down to earth almost depressive keeps to himself kind of guy plaid by Arliss Howard (who would go on to play Capt. Push throughout Medium's run for whatever that's worth) He is what he thinks happily married to Debra Winger's somewhat pyromaniac like housewife--her character by the way never really makes much sense as written but that's OK...she's the woman who also happens to be considered the one who got away by cartoon like Dennis quaid and quaid almost completely randomly seems determined to get her back for well its never really explained why he suddenly decides he wants her back--he just does.

This is pretty much the entire film until the hour mark when it seems like Debra Winger and Dennis Quiad have re-ignited their passion driving an already somewhat depressive Arliss Howard into fits of acting out--basically it all ends up with the two brothers having a show down with one another where they end up igniting everything around them on fire---repeatedly. (the show down is pretty cool but is about as non-sensical as anything else that happens in the film)

Um yes this movie is supposed to be a whimsical one---as well as a slightly out there love story--arliss howard's character is a volunteer fireman and the other firemen in his unit have an acapella group which hits its peak with a rendition of "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" that is actually quite lovely within the context of the film. (that musical sequence by the way reminded me very strongly of John Turturo's "Romance And Cigarettes" a movie that this one could've been as good as if it had stuck to the whole characters expressing their misery thru song motif that one had.)

However the film itself really doesn't make a whole lot of sense--i suppose its kind of like what happens when a depressive fire-starter comes to grips with his demons and what happens when his pyromaniac wife starts experiencing a 7 year itch of her own--but even just with the characters alone--even if the screenplay does manage to justify the root cause of their current behavior---the film never quite resolves their dilemma---like even with that giant showdown and the forgiveness that the brothers somehow manage to achieve from one another after a lifetime of estrangement and bitterness between them--the movie never really explains why or how they come to such a truce with one another--they just do! or why Debra Winger decides which of the two brothers she wants, she just does! or why anything that's happened in the 110 or so minutes of screen time is supposed to be endearing--it just is!

Film is totally worth a watch tho--I mean I enjoyed it more then enough--it kept me engrossed in its outcome, and i thought the performances of the 2 brothers were solid enough to keep me slightly off course as to what the final outcome was going to be between the two of them--but as a whole i'm not so sure the thing hangs together so well--still its gotta be the only Firestarter Feuding Brothers movie out there right?
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1/10
Don't waste your time like I did!!!
mikes-422 September 1998
I can't believe they got the actors and actresses of that caliber to do this movie. That's all I've got to say - the movie speaks for itself!!
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3/10
couldn't sit through it
agacyb11 May 2002
I love these actors, but they were wasted in this flick.

I can only wonder, what WERE they thinking agreeing to this crap???

Debra Winger just phoned it in; Dennis Quaid and Arliss Howard were caricatures. Some people thought it was deep. Well, if you liked "Breaking the Waves", you'll probably like this too. I hated both. 3/10
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5/10
Forgotten black comedy has good special effects but tiresome story
gridoon20212 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Good special effects and spectacular pyrotechnics fight against a long, pointless, tiresome story (there is a sequence in the movie that's a good metaphor for it - a character drives a lawnmower machine round and round and round without going anywhere). The cast is talented, but some "quirky" touches (the singing firemen) add little. I must mention that Debra Winger had guts to do the diving-from-the-roof-back-first stunt - and I'm 99% certain it was really her doing it. ** out of 4.
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