(I recorded the 1986 film, Wisdom, off of Retroplex on Mary 1st.)
(SPOILER ALERT! The ending of this film is so extremely stupid that there’s no way I’m not going to discuss it in this review.)
Meet John Wisdom (Emilio Estevez)!
He’s got one of those ironic names, as people in pretentious movies often do. He’s extremely naive but his name is Wisdom. He does a lot of stupid crap but his name is Wisdom. And I guess the audience is meant to feel that Wisdom understands more than even he knows.
Or something like that.
Anyway, John Wisdom has got some issues. He’s a college dropout who can’t get a good job because he has a criminal record. He didn’t really do anything wrong, of course. All he did was steal a car on the night of his high school graduation. Hey, who hasn’t done that? Anyway, Wisdom would be happy to just spend all day sitting around in his bathtub but his father (Tom Skerritt) insists that Wisdom find some sort of employment.
Eventually, Wisdom ends up working in a fast food restaurant. It turns out that he’s not very good at it, which leads me to suspect that Wisdom probably wouldn’t be very good at any of the other jobs that he was pursuing either. To be honest, the main reason that Wisdom works at the restaurant is so that Charlie Sheen can have a cameo as Wisdom’s boss.
(Strangely, Martin Sheen is nowhere to be found in the movie. It wouldn’t surprise me if Emilio Estevez — who both directed and wrote the script — originally envisioned Martin playing his father. Tom Skerritt does an extended Martin Sheen impersonation as Daddy Wisdom.)
Anyway, Wisdom decides that since the system refuses to give him a fair chance, he’s going to live the rest of his life as an outlaw. So, Wisdom starts to rob banks. However, instead of stealing all of the money, Wisdom is more interested in setting fire to mortgage and loan records. Wisdom explains, via voice over, that he’s concerned about the working people who keeps getting screwed over by the banks. That’s all good and well but I thought the whole reason that Wisdom started robbing banks was because there was no other way for him to make any money. So, when did Wisdom go from being a greedy criminal to an altruistic rebel?
Naturally, Wisdom and his girlfriend, Karen (Demi Moore), becomes folk heroes. Everyone wants to meet Wisdom and protect him from the police. But eventually, Karen gets gunned down by a police helicopter. Poor Karen. She didn’t even want to rob banks. Well, actually, she did want to rob banks. And then she didn’t. And then she did again. Karen’s motivation and personality changes from scene-to-scene, largely because she’s a poorly written character. But no matter. She’s dead now.
But Wisdom’s still alive! Except, soon, he finds himself surrounded by cops. Standing in the middle of a football field (Oh my God! The symbolism!), Wisdom is gunned down by law enforcement…
…except suddenly, Wisdom’s back in the bathtub. Apparently, he was just daydreaming about his girlfriend getting gunned down in front of him. Wait … what? Seriously, what type of ending is that!? At the very least, the film could have ended with Wisdom robbing a bank for real and accepting that his dream is destined to come true. I mean, that would have been stupid but at least it would have been something. Instead, things end with Wisdom leaving the bathroom.
So, basically, the entire film was just Wisdom daydreaming about robbing banks and eventually getting gunned down on a football field. Oh, Wisdom. You got some issues, sweetie!
Emilio Estevez directed this film a year after appearing in The Breakfast Club. Like many directorial debuts, it’s incredibly dumb. You can tell that Estevez wasn’t sure what he wanted to say but he was still damn determined to say it. Why do so many actors end up directing such pretentious and/or boring movies? On the plus side, there were a few attempts at deliberate humor (Wisdom is not a particularly organized bank robber) and Demi Moore did a fairly good job playing an inconsistent character. Otherwise, Wisdom is mostly memorable for having one of the worst endings of all time.