Quick Movie Review: Foul Play (1978)

I added this flick to my Instant Netflix queue for one reason: it’s a Chevy Chase movie I hadn’t seen. Sure, there’s probably lots of his movies I haven’t seen, but this is vintage Chevy from right after he left Saturday Night Live and a few years before Caddyshack and Fletch. Plus, Goldie Hawn!

As it turns out, though, this isn’t really Chevy’s movie. He’s in the last quarter or so of it, but the plot revolves around Hawn, who finds herself with a series of assassins after her because of a chance encounter with another killer. The stranger hands her a pack of smokes which she just assumes are regular cigarettes, but they actually contain some kind of secret plans. It’s your basic case of mistaken identity kind of a movie, but even though the plot is familiar there was something about Hawn being the one in the role that made things feel a little more tense.

Maybe it’s because you usually see a man in this kind of part and the Cro-Magnon part of my brain wants to KEEP…GIRL…SAFE. There’s also plenty of scenes with her trying to tell people what’s going on and no one believes her either because the evidence is no longer there (the guy who gave her the smokes dies in a movie theater, but while she runs out to tell the manager, someone moves the body) or because the whole thing just sounds so crazy (a dwarf might be after her and a huge albino definitely is). Those kinds of stories always give me the heebee jeebies. Or maybe it was the few drinks I had while watching.

Anyway, I really dug the flick for its weirdness and fantastic cast. In addition to Chase and Hawn, Dudley Moore pops up and turns out to have one of the swankiest and skankiest bachelor pads on film (he’s got a blow-up doll filled with helium), Brian Dennehey plays–here’s a shocker–a cop and Burgess Meredith plays Hawn’s snake-loving, kung-fu-practicing neighbor.

What I love about the movie is how offbeat it is. I went in thinking it would be some kind of romantic comedy. Then some serious stuff starts happening with people trying to hurt or kill Hawn. But then she winds up with Moore and things get amazingly ridiculous. After that it gets serious for moments, but never loses it’s quirky, funny charm. Even Chase doesn’t come off in his usual slick guy mode early on in the film when Hawn basically shoots down his Fletch routine. In the end, the flick comes together in a pretty confusing plot that oddly reminded me of one of the Naked Gun flicks, though I can’t remember which one it was (it’s been a while since I saw those movies).

For once a movie not matching up to my expectations (low or nonexistent as they might have been) was actually a pleasant surprise that resulted in a fun, quirky movie I recommend to my fellow Instant Netflix users looking for a fun, offbeat comedy/mystery/adventure.

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