Thinner (1996, directed by Tom Holland)


Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke, in a fat suit) is a morbidly obese attorney who might be destined to die of a heart attack but who definitely will not be serving jail time despite running over an old gypsy woman. After a corrupt judge and crooked cop, both of whom are friends of Billy’s, conspire to get Halleck acquitted, all three of them are cursed by the woman’s husband (Michael Constnatine). The judge turns into a lizard while the cop is covered in sores. Halleck, however, finally starts to lose weight! At first, he’s happy. He’s finally getting thin and all he had to do was run over an old woman! But then, he realizes that he’s never going to stop getting thinner and he’s going to just waste away.

Thinner is based on a novel by Richard Bachman, who was actually Stephen King. Like most of the Bachman books, Thinner is nastier than most of the King books. Billy is a terrible character and he deserves exactly what’s coming to him. The book is not usually listed as being one of King’s better efforts and the movie doesn’t get much love either. I’ve always liked Thinner, though. It’s like a really good episode of Tales From The Crypt, with Billy paying the price for his sins. Billy actually gets several chances to redeem himself but, because he’s such a terrible character, he keeps messing them up. Instead of begging for forgiveness, Billy hires a gangster (Joe Mantegna) to try to take out the gypsies. Even when the dead woman’s husband gives Billy a chance to escape his fate with some shred of dignity, Billy would rather go after his perceived enemies. Many bad things happen to Billy but he brings them all on himself. Even when it becomes obvious that he’s under a curse, he still thinks he can plea bargain his way out of it.  He’s a lawyer, through and through.

Thinner is frequently cartoonish and broad but that works for the story that it’s telling. Robert John Burke’s performance may not have many shadings to it but again, it’s right for the story that’s being told.  My favorite performance in the film was Joe Mantegna’s turn as the gangster and fans of Late Night Cinemax will feel a rush of nostalgia when Kari Wuhrer makes an appearance as the beautiful daughter of the woman that Billy ran over.  Thinner is a middle-tier King adaptation, neither as bad nor as good as some others. I dug it.

One response to “Thinner (1996, directed by Tom Holland)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 10/18/21 — 10/24/21 | Through the Shattered Lens

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