Saturday, November 25, 2006

[1980] INSIDE MOVES: Dopey yet endearing--let's call it that. Roary (John Savage) tries to kill himself, fails but is left with a permanent limp, and winds up hanging at Max's Bar (in Oakland, according to Wikipedia) with a bunch of other handicapped people--a blind guy, a guy with hooks for hands (Harold Russell from The Best Years Of Our Lives), a guy in a wheelchair, and bartender Jerry (David Morse), a former basketball star who got in some kind of accident and can barely walk straight now. So Jerry and Roary become best pals, but then Jerry manages to get an operation done to fix his legs (through a really preposterous set of circumstances, let me tell you) and starts to taste success and leave his old buddies at Max's behind. And the movie is Jerry acting like a bigger and bigger jerk and Roary feeling betrayed until the inevitable reconciliation and happy ending. Savage is really good, though, and his performance as this wounded, yet hopeful, sad sack made me forgive some of the ridiculousness of the plot. Like Jerry getting an operation and suddenly becoming an NBA player (even if it was for the Warriors--and I hope the Warriors figuring prominently in a movie about lovable losers was completely intentional); I know the league was near its lowest point back then, but come on. But Savage is good and the weirdos are funny and there's a moral about not forgetting your friends that is close to being heavyhanded but Donner manages to be just restrained enough to make sure we're getting the message without smacking us in the face with it. It's a gentler kind of message movie.

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