A Movie A Day #342: Hiding Out (1987, directed by Bob Giraldi)


Andrew Morenski (Jon Cryer) is a stockbroker in the 1980s.  What could be better than handling large amount of money during the decade of excess, right?  The only problem is that Andrew and two of his colleagues have gotten involved with Mafia.  And now, the Mafia wants them all dead.  On the run from both the FBI and the Mob, Andrew tries to change his appearance.  He shaves off his beard.  He gives himself a bad dye job.  No sooner has Andrew traded clothes with a homeless person than he is mistaken for a high school student.

What better place could there be for Andrew to hide than a high school?  Despite being 29 years old, Andrew fits right in and soon becomes one of the most popular students at the school.  Andrew not only gets a girlfriend (Annabeth Gish) but he is even nominated to run for student body president.  As Andrew discovers, the mob may be ruthless but they’re nothing compared to the student council.

Hiding Out may begin like a violent action thriller but it quickly reveals itself to be yet another John Hughes-influenced high school movie.  Andrew starts out as a sleazy stockbroker but, by the end of the movie, he has transformed himself into Ferris Bueller.  After spending his teenage years as a self-described “short, horny, hopeless dork,” Andrew is finally getting his chance to be cool.  (“Well, I’m not short,” Andrew says.)  The best scenes are the ones where Andrew occasionally forgets that he’s just supposed to be an apathetic teenager, like when he gets into a fierce argument with his history teacher over whether Richard Nixon should have been forced out of office or when he meets his girlfriend’s father and ends up giving him stock advice.  There’s no denying that the plot is frequently dumb and features some massive plot holes but, largely due to Jon Cryer’s likable and energetic performance, Hiding Out is also a breezy and enjoyable movie.

A Movie A Day #331: The Soldier (1982, directed by James Glickenhaus)


The Soldier is really only remembered for one scene.  The Soldier (Ken Wahl) is being chased, on skis, across the Austrian Alps by two KGB agents, who are also on skis.  The Soldier is in Austria to track down a KGB agent named Dracha (Klaus Kinski, who only has a few minutes of screen time and who is rumored to have turned down a role in Raiders of the Lost Ark so he could appear in this movie).  The Russians want the Soldier dead because they’re evil commies.  While being chased, the Soldier goes over a ski slope and, while in the air, executes a perfect 360° turn while firing a machine gun at the men behind him.  It’s pretty fucking cool.

The Soldier, who name is never revealed, works for the CIA.  He leads a team of special agents.  None of them get a name either, though one of them is played by the great Steve James.  When a shipment of Plutonium is hijacked so that it can be used it to contaminate half of the world’s supply of oil, The Soldier is assigned to figure out who is behind it.  Because terrorists are demanding that Israel withdraw from the West Bank, Mossad assigns an agent (Alberta Watson) to help out The Soldier.  She gets a name, Susan Goodman.  She sleeps with The Soldier because, she puts it, the world is about to end anyway.

The Soldier was obviously meant to be an American James Bond but Ken Wahl did not really have the screen charisma necessary to launch a franchise.  He is convincing in the action scenes but when he has to deliver his lines, he is as stiff as a board.  Fortunately, the majority of the movie is made up of action scenes.  From the minute this briskly paced movie starts, people are either getting shot or blown up.  Imagine a James Bond film where, instead of tricking the bad guys into explaining their plan, Bond just shot anyone who looked at him funny.  That’s The Soldier, a film that is mindless but entertaining.

Ken Wahl may have been stiff and Klaus Kinski may have been wasted but there are still some interesting faces in the cast.  Keep an eye out for William Prince as the President, Ron Harper as the director of the CIA, Zeljko Ivanek as a bombmaker, Jeffrey Jones as the assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense, and George Straight performing in a redneck bar.  Best of all, one of the Soldier’s men is played by Steve James, who will be recognized by any Cannon Films aficionado.

Surprisingly, The Solider is not a Cannon film.  It certainly feels like one.