What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!
Last night, if you discovered that you couldn’t get any sleep around two in the morning, you could have turned to Showtime and watched the 1987 film, From The Hip.
In From the Hip, Judd Nelson plays a character named Robin Weathers. Of course, his nickname is Stormy. Robin has just graduated from law school and is working at a prestigious law firm. He’s ambitious, he’s outspoken, and he’s totally frustrated. As his co-workers (played, quite well, by David Alan Grier and Dan Monahan) continually remind him, nobody gets to try a case during their first year out of law school. They advise him to be patient and to wait his turn.
However, a man who is capable of being patient would not be nicknamed Stormy. It just wouldn’t make any sense. So, Stormy Weathers schemes his way into the courtroom. One morning, he intentionally withholds information from the senior partners, going out of his way to keep them from realizing that a trial is scheduled to begin that afternoon. When senior partner Craig Duncan (Darren McGavin) discovers what Stormy has done, he fires him and makes sure that he never get hired at another law firm … oh wait. No, he doesn’t because that would make too much sense. Instead, he allows Stormy to try the case because, at this point, Stormy is the only one who knows anything about it.
The case is a simple assault case that involves two bankers and should be resolved easily but Stormy manages to drag it out for several days and his flamboyant style catches the attention of the media. The other partners in the law firm — who are all old and boring — want to fire Stormy but Stormy’s client says that, if Stormy is fired, he’ll take his business and his money elsewhere. Stormy becomes a minor celebrity but — in a rather clever little twist — it turns out that he and the prosecuting attorney are old friends from law school and they conspired to make each other look good.
Anyway, Stormy is now so famous that he gets assigned to defend a college professor, named Benoit (John Hurt), who has been accused of murder. When it quickly becomes obvious that Benoit is not only guilty but will probably murder again, Stormy is forced to choose between ambition and morality…
When my friend Evelyn and I first started to watch From the Hip last night, I really thought I was going to hate it. The hot pink neon credits screamed, “Bad 80s movie!” and, because I happen to know quite a few lawyers, I tend to be a 100 times more critical of movies about lawyers than I am when it comes to movies about, say, homicidal fishermen.
And, honestly, From The Hip is a heavily flawed film. Judd Nelson is miscast and the scenes with his politically conscious girlfriend (Elizabeth Perkins) are painfully shallow and reek of limousine liberalism. But, if you can get through the weak opening, the film itself is watchable and enjoyable in a dumb sort of way. John Hurt does a great job as a sociopath and, miscast as he may be, it’s still fun to watch Nelson go insane in court.
From The Hip is not a great film but, in its way, it’s an enjoyable little time capsule. Believe it or not, there was a time when Judd Nelson starred in a movies that were actually released in theaters.
Previous Insomnia Files: