The night I introduced Lisa to Hopscotch is also the same night that I introduced her to Foul Play. You could say the theme of the night was action/comedies that have faded from view but are still enjoyable. Since “Quint” had not reviewed this one, I can talk more about the movie.
I have always mentioned how my parents, Mom in particular, have influenced my movie watching over the years. There was a brief time in 1980 where I overdosed on movies due to the apartment we were living in at the time having HBO. During that year, I caught up on James Bond, watched Grease way more than I should have, and watched movies my parents wanted to see. Goldie Hawn was a favorite of both parents, so it was no surprise that they would watch a movie of hers when given the chance. This was also the time frame that they started letting me watch more mature movies, where death occurred and certain situations were shown onscreen. For the most part, I never realized those were there until I was older.
Foul Play is your typical tale of a person caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Goldie Hawn plays a newly single woman (never sure if it was a divorce or just a bad breakup, not that it matters) who is attending the engagement party of a friend. She avoids being “picked up” by a clumsy stranger played by Chevy Chase. As she drives home, she picks up a stranded motorist named Scotty. From here, the story turns from a potential romantic comedy to a murder mystery that has Hawn reacting to upsetting events left and right. That clumsy stranger played by Chase ends up being the police detective assigned to her case, and predictably, but gladly, becomes her romantic interest.
What makes this movie work is its cast. Hawn is often portrayed as the ditzy blonde; here she is simply a caring woman reacting to all of the wackiness around her. If this role were recast as a male today, it would easily go to Jason Bateman. Chase used this movie to launch himself away from Saturday Night Live; his cockiness and smarm fits well with his character. Amazingly, though, Chase does a good job of dropping the wisecracks and demonstrating genuine concern when needed. Burgess Meredith turns in a great comedic turn as Hawn’s landlord and protector. Brian Dennehy as Chase’s partner does the heavy lifting for the tough guy side of things. What I always think of when I think about this movie, though, is Dudley Moore’s performance. While he only has three scenes, those scenes are classic Moore.
My advice: Pop this in the next time you have a date night where you are looking for something with a little more than the typical romantic comedy – and look for the scene where grandmothers play a form of Scrabble you would not expect…