The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 9, 1990 - Page 9
The life of Brian and Charlie
Nuns on the Run
dir. Jonathan Lynn
by Alyssa Katz
Last week I read the great cover story by Mark
.rispin Miller in the April Atlantic Monthly, which
essentially explained that Hollywood is going to hell
in a handbasket because virtually every major American
film of the past few years has all the profundity of a
.McDonald's commercial. After finishing it, all misty-
eyed and remorseful over the demise of this nation's
cinematic glory, I consoled myself with the thought
that at least films from overseas would save us stupid
Americans from ourselves.
But my optimism is dimming. The thoroughly
;derivative English film Nuns on the Run completely re-
jects that country's great tradition of daring, wacky
comedy capers and trades it in for some all-American
sitcom "humor." Don't let Eric Idle's presence as hap-
less gangster Brian/charming Sister Euphemia of the
Five Wounds fool you: this film has almost nothing to
do with the creative dazzle of Monty Python, The
lGoon Show, the Ealing con game romps or even
Benny Hill. Every time there's some possibility for
Nuns to go off the deep end and get really funny, Idle
and his co-star (the much funnier, frog-faced Robbie
,Coltrane) just get put through another costume change,
for some new adversary shows up. They end up being
pursued by a Hong Kong drug gang (a British equiva-
lent to the paranoid depiction of Cubans in American
films), some boring English mobsters, a nun who
catches on to the men's real identity, Brian's girl-
friend's pissed-off brother and so on, ad nauseum. This
sort of thing worked in The Blues Brothers because
that movie did it parodically; in Nuns the who-will-
chase-them-next device is played completely straight.
It's not funny.
Countless opportunities to make fun of the
Catholic Church are thrown down the tubes. Idle and
Coltrane - the former acting as bland as baby food,
the latter almost bursting out of a constraining role -
have one brief discussion about the Trinity, with the
big joke being that Idle knows nothing, Coltrane
knows everything, and Idle has to teach a religion class
in five minutes. One truly funny moment is hardly no-
ticeable in this tedious set-up: Coltrane teaches Idle the
sign of the cross by incanting "spectacles, testicles,
wallet and watch" while making the gesture.
One last caveat, for those who must see a Python
alum movie, no matter howsbad: the music, most of it
by that scourge Yello, is terrible, a m6lange of the
worst of cop flick suspense noise and Eurobeat ca-
NUNS ON THE
RUN is playing at Briarwood and
Ha ha ha! Guess what! These aren't really nuns! They aren't even women! Ha ha ha! What do you mean that's
not funny? The people who made Nuns on the Run seem to think it's a premise worthy of a whole movie.
Continued from page 8
;Teath, what they were thinking
#while walking out of the movie the-
* ter after I Love you to Death, and
',hat they said about I Love You to
peath to their friends at a cocktail
The Audience- before seeing
the movie: Boy oh boy oh boy.
rook at this cast. Kevin Kline,
Tracey Ullman, William Hurt,
Keanu Reeves, River Phoenix, Vic-
toria Jackson, Phoebe Cates. And
it's even directed by Lawrence Kas-
* an. I better go see this one, because
:f I meet Larry at graduation, I'll
have something to chat about.
Should I get Milk Duds or Jujubes?
OK, popcorn it is. Can men actually
control their sex drives?
The Audience during the
Movie: OK, it has to get funny.
Sooner or later, a good joke will
come along. I just know it. I just
love that TV show of Tracey Ull-
man's, so I know this movie will
get funny. It has to get funny, go-
damm it, I paid five bucks to see this
movie. The people sitting in front of
me are actually laughing. Are they
stoned? Can it really be true that
Kevin Kline is this bad at faking an
Italian accent? Why does Tracey
Ullman's American accent change
geographical regions every 15 min-
utes? Tracey Ullman's character's
mother is trying to fake a Yugosla-
vian accent. This plot is totally im-
plausible. I don't think it's ever go-
ing to get funny. Did I turn the iron
off before I left the house? When is
Kevin Kline going to get the clue
that dark blue whitey-tighty under-
wear does not cut it with sheer beige
pants? Get a load of William Hurt
and Keanu Reeves trying to act like
stoners. This might be funny if it
had some jokes. I'm so disappointed
that Lawrence Kasdan actually di-
rected this. Maybe I won't even go
to graduation. No, maybe I won't
even graduate. Can men actually
control their sex drives?
The Audience after the movie:
Did I miss the laugh track? Can men
actually control their sex drives?
The Audience at a cocktail
party: so anyway, I went to see this
new movie I Love You to Death. It
was one of the worst movies I've
seen in a while. It was about this
Italian guy who always cheats on his
wife, but she doesn't find out until
she runs into him at the library
necking with some bodacious ta-ta.
Then she gets really pissed and de-
cides to kill him with the help of her
Yugoslavian mother. But there's a
catch, see, because he's indestruc-
tible. Nothing she tries works. It
was unfunny, unintelligent, un-
worthwhile, and the mise en scdne
sucked. Can men actually control
their sex drives?
I LOVE YOU TO DEATH is playing
at Briarwood and Showcase.
Continued from page 8
that Fante was his favorite author.
Fante, however, had long since re-
sorted to writing screenplays to pay
his bills and had contracted diabetes,
which blinded him and took both his
legs. The renewed interest in his
work after Bukowski's aside inspired
Fante to write again, this time by
dictation to his wife, but he finished
only one novel before his death in
Ask the Dust is the third novel in
the loosely autobiographical saga of
Fante's fictional alter ego, Arturo_
Bandini. Torn between sincere ro-
mantic longings and the burdens of
Italian machismo, between the re-
spect of his literary idol J. D.
Hackmuth (the curmudgeon H. L.
Mencken) and public appreciation,
between his mother's devout
Catholicism and his father's cynical
realism, Banidini is full of contradic-
tions that cannot be reconciled. He is
tested often and, like any torn soul,
he fails, whether blowing his
mother's pension on a prostitute he
can't bring himself to sleep with,
degrading his lover to win her re-
spect, or slipping into robbery,
stealing milk which ends up filled
with detested butter. For Bandini,
greatness and misery go hand in
hand; his moments of literary and
tangible triumph are consistently
offset by personal and moral tur-
While such a structure certainly
adheres to covention, the clarity of
Fante's prose is a wonderful depar-
ture from the norm. Fante disdained
the cultural games played by the
symbolists and let his emotions run
raw on the page. His advice to those
intoxicated by the coast:
...So get youselves a polo shirt
boys, and a pair of sunglasses,
and white shoes, if you can. Be
collegiate. It'll get you anyway.
After a while, afte~r big doses of
the Times and the Examiner, you
too will whoop it up for the
While the novel is marred by a
hasty conclusion, Ask the Dust is
powerful, deeply emotional, impas-
sioned storytelling. Bukowski lik-
ened his discovery of the book to
"finding gold in the city dump," and
one is strongly encouraged to dig.
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