An offbeat mid-life crisis romantic comedy that only works in fits and starts, Jean-Claude Tramont’s All Night Long has a long list of fine actors working in vain to make mediocre material somehow work for a movie audience.
The Production: 2.5/5
An offbeat mid-life crisis romantic comedy that only works in fits and starts, Jean-Claude Tramont’s All Night Long has a long list of fine actors working in vain to make mediocre material somehow work for a movie audience. They all get “A” for effort, but the film’s overall effectiveness is mediocre at best. It’s a waste of a lot of good actors and a promising scenario that has gone absurdly wrong with miscasting and misplaced focus.
After a twenty-one year career at a pharmaceutical company, mid-level executive George Dupler (Gene Hackman) loses his temper at a business meeting and is demoted instantly to night manager at one of the company’s 24-hour Ultra-Save stores. At first content to ride out the demotion, George eventually loses patience in dealing with the kooky late night clientele, and his discomfort with his life is exacerbated by the unwanted attentions of a distant family cousin Cheryl Gibbons (Barbra Streisand) who had been cheating on her chauvinistic husband Bobby (Kevin Dobson) with George’s ne’er-do-well son Freddie (Dennis Quaid) but who now finds George much more interesting. As George decides to stop the lying and pretense in his life, the lives of everyone around him are also thrown into complete disarray.
Screenwriter W.D. Richter wanted to write a small, European-style light comedy about the peculiar people who inhabit the night, but with the big stars and a major Hollywood studio attached to the endeavor, what resulted was something much larger and much more untenable. As it turned out, the scenes in the all-night drug store are the most interesting and amusing things in the movie with a staff of befuddled, uninterested employees caught in a dead-end job, some just hanging on and others attempting to make their work something of merit and promise and a few denizens of the night with their own kookiness and unpredictability (a shoplifter who attempts to threaten the store security officer with a pantyhose egg, a massively built woman attempting to rob the cash register). The highlight here is when George attacks his obnoxious bosses with Apocalypse, Now dive bombing using an electronic model helicopter while Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” cascades on the soundtrack. The romantic comedy stuff, however, with Frank and Cheryl ditching their long-time mates (Diane Ladd, Kevin Dobson) for one another is a major misfire due to an appalling lack of chemistry between the two leads and the uncertain, confusing route their love affair takes. Director Jean-Claude Tramont can’t seem to bring life to those romantic moments at all despite continuing the quirky nature of the enterprise with George ditching his conventional home and moving into a rat-infested warehouse to begin living his life more unconventionally. The movie is further weighed down with too many dense, ditzy characters with George really the only one with his feet firmly on the ground even with some of his own eccentricities on display.
Gene Hackman gives the best performance in the film; you really believe in his mid-life crisis realization about halfway through the movie and are eager to see what he does with his life (ultimately, it doesn’t go anywhere, but the promise for something unusual is there at one point). Barbra Streisand wasn’t the original choice for Cheryl; Lisa Eichhorn filmed a few days before being dismissed, so this is, in effect, the first time Streisand acted a role in a movie that wasn’t written expressly for her talents. The problem is that we don’t buy her as this character: she’s too intelligent for the muddled Cheryl which all the blonde wigs and purple fetishistic clothes sense can’t alter. Diane Ladd as the “wronged” wife (though she never sits down and discusses exactly what’s going on with her husband before filing for divorce: he hadn’t even cheated on her at that point but had merely been the object of Cheryl’s pursuit) and Kevin Dobson as the narrow-minded husband do what they can with badly written characters. The young Dennis Quaid has a pleasing moment or two as goofy son Freddie, and William Daniels deadpans his way through another uptight character part, this time as a divorce attorney with his own secrets.
3D Rating: NA
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully delivered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. With its grain structure intact, the transfer has a very film-like appearance and boasts excellent sharpness and accurate color reproduction. There are some minor dust specks later in the film, but they aren’t distracting at all. The movie has been divided into 8 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is appropriate to the era. Dialogue is always easy to discern, and Ira Newborn’s offbeat theme music (abetted by Charlie Chaplin’s love theme from City Lights for the romantic passages of the movie) and the occasional sound effects have been blended together professionally. One might have expected slightly stronger fidelity for a 1980’s movie, but that’s likely nitpicking.
Special Features: 3/5
W.D. Richter Interview (20:55, HD): the screenwriter of the film acknowledges its problems with refreshing candor in this new interview entitled “All Night Wrong.”
Radio Spots (1:37): three thirty-second radio spots are combined into a montage representing the film as a gut-busting slapstick comedy.
Theatrical Trailer (1:41, HD)
Kino Trailers: The Hunting Party, Prime Cut, Bat 21, Mississippi Burning, The Package. Company Business, The Chamber.
Jean-Claude Tramont’s All Night Long was a noble attempt at an offbeat romantic comedy, but it simply doesn’t work. The script and some of the casting go off the rails and cause the disappointing result, but for fans of the stars, the movie does look wonderful and has very good sound quality.