By Aaron Hillis, GreenCine Daily
Directed by Bob Giraldi
1987, 98 minutes, USA
"I can't hide here forever. My grades aren't that good."
- Jon Cryer, Hiding Out
Don't wipe your glasses clean, you absolutely read that title correctly. While I'd be lying if I attempted to defend this predictable, lightweight thriller-cum-teen comedy as some unsung masterpiece, I'll unashamedly admit that Hiding Out holds a dear place in my suburban-child heart. (Which is precisely what Lionsgate is banking on, but more on that later.) Jon Cryer—a year after enamoring teen girls as Pretty in Pink's Duckie, and two years after his role in Altman's neglected O.C. & Stiggs—stars as twenty-something yuppie Andrew
Bujalski Morenski, a wealthy Boston bond dealer whose accidental entanglement with mobsters puts him in the line of fire before he can testify against these villainous inside traders.
Under police custody, a shoot-out ensues and Andrew flees town, shaves his beard, bleaches the sides of his hair, and finds refuge at his charmingly goofy young cousin's (Keith Coogan) suburban high school as its oldest student. Put on the spot while enrolling, a nearby can of Maxwell House coffee saves his bogus story: meet new senior Max Houser. Will he be able to fool his classmates and teachers, get elected class president, find true love in a fellow student (Annabeth Gish) without being charged on statutory rape, thwart the hit men who have somehow tracked his scent, and still find time to roller-skate to Pretty Poison? I love the '80s, indeed.
Even getting past the movie's silly, implausible premise, Joe Menosky and Jeff Rothberg's screenplay blows its potential to really flesh out the concept: if you were returning to high school a decade later, wouldn't you seek revenge on bullies, tell off condescending teachers, and help out the awkward misfits? Where are the social obstacles caused by the generation gap? Why don't the screenwriters address the peculiarity of a nearly thirty-year-old man falling for a teenager? But that kind of nitpicking is a waste of time for an insomniac's 3am entertainment like this, and it's mostly for Cryer's relaxed charisma and his amiable supporting cast that the film is quite watchable. It's also a shame that director Bob Giraldi—a notable music video director responsible for such videos as Michael Jackson's "Beat It," Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" and "Penny Lover," and Pat Benetar's "Love is a Battlefield"—didn't seem vested enough in adding any visual flair to the proceedings, but yet again, we're discussing a guilty pleasure about the Famous Teddy Z going all 21 Jump Street.
Happily revisiting it after several years, I probably had that faraway gaze and goofy grin of reliving my youthful movie-going, which makes sense since Hiding Out is one of eight dusted-off titles (all '84 - '90) in Lionsgate's "Lost Collection," subtitled "The best movies you totally forgot about." The set includes Morgan Stewart's Coming Home (another Cryer vehicle), Irreconcilable Differences (the best known of the bunch; watch for young Sharon Stone!), Homer & Eddie (a dramedy with Whoopi and the lesser Belushi), My Best Friend Is a Vampire (the poor man's Once Bitten), The Night Before (the poor man's After Hours), Slaughter High (a slasher flick you haven't heard of for a reason), and Repossessed (a Naked Gun-style Exorcist parody starring, naturally, Leslie Nielsen and Linda Blair). Except for Hiding Out, all of the films are presented only in full screen, perhaps to really cash in on audiences' edited-for-TV reminiscences, and each comes equipped with a trivia subtitle track. It's here, in the age of Pop-Up Video, where Lionsgate missed a golden opportunity to play up the camp factor of this motley crew of musty movies.
Rather than offering fun, fascinating factoids on the filming of Hiding Out for instance, a clueless intern must've simply scoured IMDb for whatever boring data was available for some lifeless multiple-choice questions (looking at IMDb myself, my suspicions were confirmed): who cares if sound editor Barney Cabral had six Primetime Emmy nominations? Who would want to know the name of the high school where Annabeth Gish attended? (Literally the only surprise was learning Roy Orbison re-recorded "Crying" in a Grammy-winning duet with k.d. lang specifically for the film's soundtrack.) Oh well, at least I got to revel in my memories and learn the true value of nostalgia—it's $14.98 a pop at a retailer near you.
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