Friday, December 9, 2011
Bird On A Wire
"Bird On A Wire" is a 1990 action-comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson. Currently, you can stream it at Netflix.
Goldie's my reason for watching. Mel Gibson's problems with people who don't look like him (i.e. racism) were pretty well known in the Black community long before he went nutty at the turn of the century.
At the start of the film, Mel's pumping gas and butchering Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" (singing it the way Dylan sings "All I Really Want To Do" -- with yodels -- so Gibson may be sending up Dylan intentionally) and Goldie's an attorney who wants a better deal for her client. The scene makes little sense with regards to later in the film.
Why is that? I asked C.I. about that tonight and she said that Marianne was supposed to be a "rich bitch" and that Goldie signed to play that character but once shooting started the director repeatedly asked Goldie to soften up the character. So you have that scene and one other (a shopping scene) which sort of hint at what type of character Marianne Graves might have been but otherwise she's nothing like that.
I don't want to waste a lot of time focusing on what could have been because that movie wasn't made. But Goldie and Mel are playing 60s lefties, flower children. And Mel's character appears to still espouse those beliefs while Goldie's -- had she stayed a hardened character -- would have turned her back on them.
That might have made for some drama and an interesting film.
What you have instead is a caper.
And it holds the attention and you get caught up in it.
Mel and Goldie were supposed to have gotten married in like 1975. He and their friend went off on a big pot deal to Mexico. Shot off their mouths, got involved with criminals, their friend was killed. Rick (Mel) ended up in the federal witness relocation program after a faked death.
So Marianne thinks he's dead.
She's in Detroit on business and stops to have her car filled. The man filling the car reminds her of Rick. Mel uses a southern accent and denies its him. But later that night, she'll go back just to watch him.
She's not the only one watching. Those drug dealers? They're out of US prison and want to kill him.
They'll start shooting and he'll end up in her car squealing away. He'll admit he's Rick. They then end up on the run.
Does knowing that Mel is a homophobic make the scenes where he has to return to a previous federal witness identity where he was a gay hairdresser funny or uncomfortable?
I'd say uncomfortable.
I'd also argue that if Goldie wasn't in those scenes being Goldie, they'd be very offensive.
(Being Goldie? Giggling, laughing and grinning. Warming up the screen. And delighted with everyone around her, man and woman, which lifts the scene above the crap it was probably aimed at.)
This being an action film from the early 90s, Goldie of course disappears in the third act only to show up as a hostage/victim.
That's the weakest part.
When Goldie rescues Rick at the gas station shoot out, he's shot in the ass. Later in the film, they end up at a farm he worked at and the vet will take the bullets out of his butt. Out of his very furry butt. Their are balding men with far less hair on their heads than Mel has on his ass. I could've gone my whole life without seeing Mel's butt. I've now had to see it twice. First in "Lethal Weapon" where he appears to feel it adds to the drama and then in "Bird On A Wire." At least in that first "Lethal Weapon" it's not a matted rug.
(I'm not opposed to nudity in film -- male or female. But I'm not a big fan of "let's showcase our great body." That appears to be the thinking when Mel does a nude scene. Goldie has a very nice rear end and, you may remember, she gets shot in the butt in 1984's "Protocol." We also see the bullet removed. It's a funny scene. I assume that is her butt on camera but whether it is or not, it's never presented as -- "STOP THE ACTION! WE'RE SEEING GOLDIE'S BUTT!" It's just part of the film. She's also topless in a shower scene with Burt Reynolds in "Best Friends." In that scene, the camera's not teasing up and down her breasts. That's not the point of the scene. But when Mel drops his pants, the whole point is: LOOK AT HIS BUTT! WORSHIP HIS BUTT! And, frankly, I didn't see anything to be impressed with either time.)
So if you're a Goldie fan, you'll enjoy it for Goldie. If you're an action-comedy film, there's a chase sequence when they go on the run at a shopping complex that ends with a train sequence that's really tight and will keep you watching. If you're a Mel fan, Goldie's one of the few women he's connected with onscreen so you may enjoy it for that aspect.
(I like Jamie Lee Curtis and Jodie Foster. I didn't believe Mel as a romantic interest of either in their films together -- and that's two with Jodie. I really don't care for Julia Roberts and didn't buy that the two knew each other let alone were in love in "The Conspiracy Theory." Besides Goldie, the only other time I buy him as a couple onscreen is with Michelle Pfeiffer in "Tequila Sunrise" -- where he vies for Michelle opposite Goldie's partner Kurt Russell.)
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"