Matinee (1993) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG for language, and for mild violence and sensuality
Running Time: 99 min.
Cast: John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton, Omri Katz, Lisa Jakub
Director: Joe Dante
Screenplay: Charlie Haas
Review published April 3, 1999
MATINEE is one of those hidden gems you pass by in the video store that is worth taking home with you, especially those familiar with old monster movies like the ones William Castle would produce. This one is set in the Florida Keys in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. John Goodman plays Lawrence Woolsey, a filmmaker notorious for gimmicky promotions and gadget to enhance the film-viewing experience like seats that shock and men dressed up as monsters to terrorize the audience. He comes to this small town to promote his latest film, "MANT" (half man, half ant), and finds getting the attention of the people to his film proves more of a chore since they are already terrified at the possible extinction of the world in a nuclear confrontation.
People expecting big laughs may be disappointed since MATINEE isn't one of those laugh-a-minute joke fests. Instead the humor is witty and wry, and most who are in tune with the film's background will knowingly smile at the many in-jokes sprinkled throughout. There are some side stories involving romances between some of the teens of the town, and the plotting is lackadaisical but still involving. Joe Dante is a natural as director having made his own nostalgia films (HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL) and creature features (GREMLINS, PIRANHA) and does a terrific job in the look and feel of the era. Goodman is terrific, as is the rest of the likeable cast, and the film as a whole is a fun and amusingly light satire. Film buffs will enjoy this immensely more than those who are not, but for those stuck without knowing what to rent, give it a go for a pleasant surprise.
©1999 Vince Leo