Sunday, June 4, 2017

Movie #408: Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Memoirs of an Invisible Man is an action/sci-fi/drama directed by John Carpenter and starring Chevy Chase, Daryl Hannah, Sam Neil, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Michael McKean.

Nick Halloway (Chase) is a broker who winds up at a scientific lecture when a device malfunctions and turns parts of the building - and him - transparent. He almost immediately winds up on the run from a crazy government spook named Jenkins (Neil), who wants him as an asset. Nick is the bad kind of invisible; he's invisible, his clothes are invisible, but if he so much as eats something non-transparent it shows through until he digests it.

Nick tries to turn the tables on his pursuers, but he doesn't know what he's doing and nearly gets caught. He flees to his friend George's (McKean) beach house, but nearly gets caught when George shows up with his wife and family friend Alice Monroe (Hannah), the woman that Nick was just getting smitten with when the invisibility happens. He reveals himself to Alice and enlists her help in fleeing the government, they fall in love, Jenkins falls off a damn roof, they move to Switzerland and she gets pregnant. The end!

This is not a bad movie. The effects are actually really impressive and have held up well, and I like the romance between Nick and Alice. Alice is careful and soft-spoken, but she's also smart and capable without being that weird hyper-competent that women in sci-fi/action sometimes wind up being. Sam Neil is nicely menacing as Jenkins, moving from kinda patriotic to amoral to outwardly crazy in the last act.

Chase...well, it's interesting casting. He manages to tone down his laconic goofiness and he seems to know he's not in a comedy. His interactions with Alice are also mostly sweet; he's flirty, sure, but she responds well (at one point, when they're kissing, she says she doesn't want to do anything cheap and meaningless and he responds "OK, what do I owe you?", which could have been really scuzzy, but she laughs and tells him he couldn't afford it, so it comes off like two people with good chemistry bantering). What Chase does have trouble with is expressing anger or desperation without seeming just weird (doesn't help that he actually has to deliver the line "I want my molecules back!" which makes no goddamn sense).

All in all, though, it's a perfectly serviceable movie, but it's nowhere near Carpenter at his best.

My Grade: B
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Men in Black