Another film from the oft-released Crown International library makes its way to Blu, this time a light comedy (albeit one with that patented 80’s “message”), My Chauffeur.
WKRP’s Howard Hesseman plays against type as an uptight conservative head of a Beverly Hills limousine service who finds his old boys network saddled with a female driver…and one who’s a bit of a free spirited Madonna wannabe, at that.
Backed by some of the safest, lamest “new wave”-style 80’s bands* you’re ever likely to encounter in one of these sort of films, Foreman fights for the proletariat and female equality by just being herself, inadvertently rescuing each and every fare she takes on.
* and that includes the ostensible “punk” band!
From a crass punk rocker and his overly clean, Midwestern glam metal-style groupies to a struggling black couple in distress to an abusive yuppie businessman who flips out and starts exposing himself to strangers when his girlfriend dumps him, her good heart and sweet nature shines through.
But when the latter contracts the company for a second time, the two wind up broken down in the middle of nowhere…and all of a sudden, the film goes all It Happened One Night on your unsuspecting ass.
Blaxploitation veteran Julius Harris (Hell Up in Harlem, Trouble Man, Shaft’s Big Score, etc) and “introducing” notable stage magician/escape artist/debunkers Penn & Teller further round out and complement the cast.
The extras are two commentary tracks (one with director David Beaird and Leland Crooke, the other with production assistant Jeff McKay) and a 16m chat with star Deborah Foreman (who also talks Valley Girl for a bit).
I always enjoyed Foreman, from Valley Girl to this film to later work like April Fools Day, Waxwork and Sundown: the Vampire in Retreat. Sort of on the level of a lower rent Ami Dolenz (though I don’t recall having a thing for Foreman as I did for that particular starlet), she was the sort of cute, appealingly sweet presence who could (and generally did) enliven the films she took part in more than they’d otherwise seem to merit.
And that’s a real asset here, given the disjointed structure of the film, which veers wildly between light class war/gender war polemic to weird comedy to old Hollywood romance (my wife walked in on the “you can’t marry her!” scene and was aghast at the implication, though disabused shortly thereafter).
The heart of the problem is that the film can’t seem to decide whether it’s a fairytale rags to riches story for young girls, a populist empowerment tale or just a typical 80’s sex comedy…and as a result, tends to leave a lot of plot threads hanging and audiences seeking any of those confused and somewhat unfulfilled.
Good thing it’s sweet and good natured at core…much of which may well come down to its likeably earnest if not eubellient starlet.