JANUARY 7, 2010
As The Landlady slogged on towards its dull-as-the-rest-of-the-movie finale, my buddy Matt and I began to discuss the sad fate of most of the principal cast of The Godfather films*. Pacino and DeNiro have become parodies of themselves, Brando became a punchline and died as reclusive tabloid fodder, Robert Duvall was in Four Christmases... But Talia Shire just seemingly disappeared. In fact, Landlady is the only movie post Godfather III that I can even recall her being in, and I hadn’t even heard of it until I began surfing through Netflix’s insta-view list for something to watch that WASN’T some random indie movie that was shot for 12 bucks with a bunch of the director’s friends.
Needless to say, it’s hardly the best vehicle for a comeback. Sure, she gets to be front and center without some Italian guy overshadowing her for once, but it’s a lousy movie all the same. I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for her, but the movie starts with her killing her husband and then a few minutes later she’s chastising strangers for using the Lord’s name in vain, so I’m not really feeling the warm and cuddlies. And the only likable supporting character is Jack Coleman’s neighbor who Shire falls in love with, so you know he’s gonna be fine. So it’s a horror movie without a shred of suspense or intrigue.
Back to Coleman - he lists this film as one of the most embarrassing things of his career on his little Heroes blog. But he wrote this AFTER that show’s 2nd season, so you KNOW it’s terrible. Like me, he actually dozed off at one point (except he was filming, whereas I was just watching it), but unfortunately I woke up and simply watched the rest of this lousy movie, whereas he woke up and went on to star in a successful TV show a few years later.
Shire gives it her all though, tossing off the feeble one-liners with far more effort than they deserve (and even managed one laugh, when Coleman says she deserves a gold medal and she mutters “I deserve a gold ring” - compared to the rest of the lines, it’s positively hilarious). And there’s one good kill in the movie, when her and this other guy are carrying a large trunk down the stairs and she lets it fall and crush him. However, director Robert Malenfant botches it by putting the guy way at the bottom of the stairs long before the trunk gets there, which doesn’t make any gravitational sense.
Speaking of the director, he has also made similar “____ from hell” movies: The Perfect Nanny, The Nurse (and those are just the ones that caught my eye). You’d think since he’s obviously such a big fan of the scenario that he would be good at it, but if anything this should be the best, as it came between the others; after he’s had some practice, but before he started to get bored. If I’m right, and this is indeed the best of the three, then I swear I will quit HMAD for good if it comes to the day that my only option is one of those two movies. And I have to blame him, because the film’s producer is none other than Pierre David, who also produced such films as Of Unknown Origin and The Brood. I can vouch for that guy.
The script is just as terrible. You’d think after killing 3-4 people, Shire’s character would learn to come up with an alibi for that person when someone came looking for them, but she never does, resulting in saying things like “Oh she’s staying with her friend... Mary... Smith.” One could chalk this up to her simply being a moron, but she was smart enough to get away with killing her husband in the first 5 minutes (and moving away the next day without the cops being suspicious, apparently?), so you’d think offing some random schmuck from her building would be easy enough to cover up. And the plot contrivances are painfully stupid, like when Shire and another neighbor both have identical dry cleaning packages and get them mixed up in the hallway. If the movie was funny/stupid, it would be one thing, but other than a few of Shire’s off-the-cuff remarks, it’s played straight, so these dumbass moments are even more grating.
The only sorta creepy moment in the entire thing is when Shire installs a smoke detector with video camera (she apparently called the Spy store) in Coleman’s living room, and then replaces their shared wall with a two way mirror so she can watch him as he sleeps. However these elements are hardly used in the movie after their introduction, which means that for the first time ever, one can utter “This was better in Sliver.”
What say you?
* John Cazale, of course, more than made up for their nonsense, dying with five movies under his belt, all of which were nominated for Best Picture (3 of which it won).
I couldn't find a trailer for this movie, and I've run out of Meat Loaf videos, so instead, just watch the first ten minutes of NOT QUITE HUMAN, and you like what you see, head over to Youtube for the rest!