"Are you in the eighth grade?"
March 31, 2015 7:06 AM   Subscribe

This week in The Dissolve’s Forum section, Noel Murray and Alan Sepinwall discuss Midnight Run and what makes the 1988 film an enduring favorite. This is not the first time Sepinwall has written about his favorite movie.

Midnight Run, previously, by our very own AlonzoMosleyFBI
posted by Room 641-A (21 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
When I'm in a crowded area and I can't find my wife, I yell, "Serrano's got the disks!"

She f'n hates that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:08 AM on March 31, 2015 [16 favorites]

Its a 'just a movie' film. Don't analyse it too closely or it will fall apart in your hands; there are cliches aplenty and some of it is just stupid. But who cares ? Its just a movie.

And yet that "Are you in the eighth grade" scene is genuinely powerful. Its so full of hope and loss and fucked-up decisions and the imperfectability of life that you'd expect to see it in some overwrought black and white film from the 70's that had no entertainment value but was dripping with "authenticity". And yet here it is an a very mainstream hollywood effort. The scene pulls you up short. It finishes and the movie goes back to its usual anti-buddy schtick which makes it all the more jarring as you are still digesting the raw emotions of moments before.

Dennis Farina's really good too.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 7:19 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think they hit on something when they said it's the last movie in which DeNiro actually tries. He's been coasting on "intense weirdo" for decades now, and it's amazing, because he's amazing, but you can really see him reacting to Grodin, which is something DeNiro never does anymore. In every movie I've seen him in since, he seems like he's in a bubble of his own making, and the other actors have to act around him. I can't imagine anyone but Charles Grodin being given the task of trying to make DeNiro laugh with improv and not having DeNiro just walk off the set.
posted by xingcat at 7:24 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

( released in 1988, not 98 ... I felt a little of my gravitas evaporate for a minute there )
posted by roue at 7:45 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

This has long been one of my very favorite movies, because it contains multitudes.

Too many movies that try to be funny and have action and be emotionally honest can't stay balanced and hold it together. But Midnight Run -- thanks to really nice work from Grodin and DeNiro and Farina and Kotto, and even Joe Pantoliano -- manages to do all of these without showing seams.

I think it's that sweet soundtrack, TBH.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:47 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Corrected the '98 typo to '88.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:52 AM on March 31, 2015

I definitely fall into the category of those who never tire of this film. I love cinema. I have seen thousands of films in dozens of art house theaters over the years, and get as much pleasure out of how a film is shot, written, art-directed and costumed as I do the experience of simply watching and absorbing the story unfold. And I wear my cinema snobbery proudly. But this is one of the lovely films, like Casablanca (to name one classic example), that, as the article states, just comes together with a certain alchemy, that didn't deserve to be as good as it is, or to create a cult following, but it is, and it did. Beverley Hills Cop ... not so much.
posted by buffalo at 8:15 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

I love this movie, and have watched it far too many times, and will probably make a point of watching it again soon because of the coverage at the Dissolve.

There's a little bit of activity in the movie surrounding a possible breakfast of chorizo and eggs. I remember that when the movie came out, I'd never heard of chorizo, (like Grodin's character, who asks the waitress what it is). Grodin, among the many other amazing things that he pulls off in this movie, gives the most convincing performance I've ever seen of Being Really Very Hungry. It made me sympathetically hungry: I too, wanted chorizo and eggs from a cheap restaurant. And it was nowhere to be found!

And now, many years later, there are a couple of cheap Mexican places here in town, with a couple of miles of home, that serve breakfast 24 hours a day and will gladly sell you a disposable plate heaped high with chorizo and egss, beans, rice, and really hot tortillas wrapped in foil. It's marvelous, and I never would've thought to try it if not for "Midnight Run".
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:30 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Midnight Run is one of my best friend's favorite movies, and I get it. It's a very good action-comedy, and Charles Grodin is superb. (I don't think DeNiro is that great in it.) It's not as high on my list, but I like quirkier. (For maximum Grodin, I prefer Clifford, the best (mainstream) comedy of the '90s.)

What's interesting to me is why these sorts of movies don't get made anymore. Well, they do get made, I suppose, but they don't get promoted or go straight to video.

Between the internationalization of Hollywood (more Transformers and Taken 6) and the films shooting for critical acclaim (Oscars), we've lost this sort of quality middlebrow fare.

TV has picked up the slack admirably, though.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:53 AM on March 31, 2015

Ok, so I'll go and watch it again, for the tenth time
posted by growabrain at 10:27 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

What's interesting to me is why these sorts of movies don't get made anymore

I'm not going to make a straight-up comparison, but I'll say The Other Guys, which is a much broader comedy, scratches this itch for me. On the other hand, while it's only five years old it does seem a lot further removed from the franchise films that dominate now.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:31 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think they hit on something when they said it's the last movie in which DeNiro actually tries.

It's such a treat when you watch an old movie featuring an actor you've mostly seen in later films past his prime and you say, "Wow, so that's why DeNiro is a star."

The "eighth grade" exchange is great, but the part that just punches me in the gut is when his daughter comes out to say goodbye. What she says and the look on her face imply so much about how she's felt about her dad and his absence; just remembering it chokes me up.

This movie was highly recommended to me by several people and I was still surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
posted by straight at 10:49 AM on March 31, 2015 [6 favorites]

Here's how much Alan loves MIDNIGHT RUN: When I was crowdsourcing a playlist of upbeat music at one point, he IMMEDIATELY recommended the Oingo Boingo song over the credits. It is a deep, deep attachment, which is why I love that he and Noel talked about it.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:53 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

saw it on first release in a packed theater on a saturday night and it remains one of my best cinema experiences.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:00 AM on March 31, 2015

I can't imagine anyone but Charles Grodin being given the task of trying to make DeNiro laugh with improv

I can't remember where I heard this, but this scene is apparently a rehearsal that was kept in the final. It explains why Grodin repeats the "why are you so unpopular" line -- he's restarting the sequence, just throwing DeNiro the next line. But it just works because they've worked out such a good relationship.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:03 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Wow I love this movie and the insight. Before today if someone told me that awesome soundtrack was Danny Elfman I would've bet and lost a lot of money.
posted by raider at 4:49 PM on March 31, 2015

Why are you unpopular with the Chicago police department?
posted by stennieville at 4:54 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Holy shit, that last paragraph reminded me of just what a great summer of movies we had back in 1988: Midnight Run, Die Hard, Bull Durham, Roger Rabbit & A Fish Called Wanda. I think I saw all of them in the theater that summer. That's right up there with 1982 for great summer movies.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:42 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

My father and I quote lines from this movie all the time at each other. "Can I ask you something? These sunglasses: they're really nice. Are they like government issue, or do you guys all go to the same store together?"

And as for best Grodinism ever, I give you the cafe scene when The Duke scams the counter man out of his money by posing as Alonzo Mosley, money inspector. "Thank you for your cooperation."

posted by zooropa at 11:47 PM on March 31, 2015

There was an article in either Entertainment Weekly or (more likely) Premiere Magazine around the time when this movie came out on video which described Grodin's apparently VERY difficult job of actually landing the role. DeNiro was already cast, and they were looking for his foil, and I guess Grodin had to audition/screen test an unusual amount of times. (which makes sense, given their chemistry, which although it seems cliche' "odd couple" at first glance, is FAR more nuanced and original.)

So many great lines. Dennis Farina gets the lion's share, but I always loved Alonso's exchange:

[field agent enters]

Mosley: "Is this gonna upset me?"

Agent: "I think that's safe to say."

I use Mosley's line at least monthly whenever I'm summoned to a coworker's desk.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:29 AM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

what a great summer of movies we had back in 1988

You didn't like "Willow"? :-(
posted by ShutterBun at 3:31 AM on April 1, 2015

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