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Miami Blues Movie Review

armitage george film leigh

How often have you watched a movie and wondered: “How in the world were they able to get this project past the story board?” In the case of Miami Blues, I have a pretty good hunch which sequences attracted Jonathan Demme to produce it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that YOU have to blow your entertainment allowance on it. Miami Blues is your basic home movie with a budget. Although the direction by Roger Corman alumnus George (Private Duty Nurses, Hot Rod) Armitage is described (by the press kit) as “precise,” he pretty much lets stars Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh overact their little hearts out. The characters they play are generic psycho and generic ditz, complete with accompanying stock mannerisms. This permits executive producer Fred Ward to steal the film with his usual roguish charm and easy underplaying. The plot (Will Sgt. Ward catch the insane Baldwin?) is so predictable that the minor shocks in the movie are supplied by its very occasional gross-outs. Shirley Stoler and Charles Napier are on hand for the hard core film buffs. And in the “So-that's-how-they-get-away-with-it” department, writer/director George Armitage pulled into the first convenience store he could find while scouting for movie locations. He went up to the owner and said, “I'm with a film company and we'd like to drive a truck through your front door.” The store owner, who'd already been held up several times, said “yes” without batting an eye. Believe it or don't! (After Miami Blues, Armitage went on to co-script 1996's The Late Shift, a Golden Globe winner for actress Kathy Bates.)

1990 (R) 97m/C Fred Ward, Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nora Dunn, Charles Napier, Jose Perez, Paul Gleason, Obba Babatunde, Martine Beswick, Shirley Stoler; D: George Armitage; W: George Armitage; C: Tak Fujimoto; M: Gary Chang. New York Film Critics Awards ‘90: Best Supporting Actress (Leigh). VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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