Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (A)
R2 - United Kingdom - Simply Media
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (16th March 2016).
The Film

Jimmy Reardon (River Phoenix) lives with his parents and siblings in a wealthy suburb of Chicago in the early 1960Ďs. Jimmy has turned seventeen and has left school and is planning his future in college. However, his Father will not pay for his tuition unless he attends the same business college as his Father. Instead Jimmy decides that he wants to fly to Hawaii with his wealthy girlfriend Lisa (Meredith Salenger) and stay and work on the island. This plan infuriates his Father who then gives him the ultimatum of either going to college or leaving the family home until Jimmy gets a proper job and contributes to the household. Jimmy then spends the day before he is due to fly out to Hawaii desperately trying to secure the remaining $88 dollars that he needs for his airfare. After being turned down by his friend Fred (Matthew Perry) and Fredís snobbish girlfriend Denise (whom Jimmy is sleeping with without Fredís knowledge) Jimmy manages to scrape almost all of the money together and starts to prepare for his final night in Chicago by going to a fancy ball with his girlfriend Lisa. Jimmy writes a note to his parents telling them he is going to Hawaii and then before he has a chance to leave for the ball he is introduced to his Motherís friend Joyce (Ann Magnuson). For some reason Jimmyís Father despises Joyce and shortly after Jimmy is introduced to Joyce Jimmyís Father returns home. Joyce makes her excuses and Jimmyís Mother insists that Jimmy drive Joyce home. Jimmy does this and when he is dropping her off Joyce invites Jimmy in for a drink. Despite knowing that this will make him late in picking Lisa up for the ball Jimmy senses something between himself and the much older Joyce and takes her up on the offer. After a few drinks Jimmy makes his move and soon he and Joyce are making love. Jimmy is now over two hours late in picking Lisa up for the ball but still he goes to her house to find she has already left having found herself another date. Enraged Jimmy drives to the ball with the hopes of getting his girl back.

The teen/self discovery movie genre exploded in the early 1980ís and by the time that decade was just over half way through it was petering out. By this time we had seen some fine examples of the sub genre such as Porkyís, Risky Business, The Breakfast Club, The Last American Virgin, Ferris Buellerís Day Off and The Sure Thing. Whilst there would still be a couple of decent efforts before the decade was out, such as Say Anything and Dead Poetís Society it seemed that the genre had said pretty much all it had to say. Unfortunately ĎA Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardoní came out in 1988 into a saturated market and was generally overlooked by movie goers and this is a shame. Whilst the film does not have anything particularly new to say it is a well made film. I think part of the filmís problem is that the audience is guided through the film by Jimmy Reardon. It is his internal monologue that drives the story and yet Jimmyís morals are so low that it is very difficult to summon any sympathy when the storyline throws Jimmy a curveball. Jimmy is basically like a dog in heat that will lay down with anything with a pulse and his insincerity towards each and every character in the film continues to the very last line of the movie and this is itís failing. Jimmyís final answer to this is that it is hereditary but it clearly isnít as Jimmy only finds out what makes him think this at the filmís climax. Despite these failings ĎA Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardoní is still a well made, entertaining film. The cast are uniformly excellent especially River Phoenix who would only go on to make nine more films before his untimely death five years after this film premiered. In fact this film could almost be seen as a sequel to his character Chris Chambers in ĎStand By Meí. The soundtrack is peppered with some great early 1960ís tunes which add to atmosphere of the piece. ĎA Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardoní is an overlooked minor gem in the teen movie genre and well worth a look if this type of film is your cup of tea.

Video

The film is presented in itís original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Unlike many 1980ís films the image here has not suffered from the sort of soft focus presentation that was so rife during that decade. It helps that the Director (William Richert, who also happens to have written the source novel ĎArenít You Even Going to Kiss Me Goodbye?í and the script for the film) uses natural light and subtle tones for the palette of the film which accurately reflects the decade in which the film is set. The picture quality can hardly be considered to be spectacular but itís pretty solid with no noticeable defects.

Audio

The 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo mix is the only soundtrack option available and is perfectly acceptable. There is one line of dialogue which seems to be missing from the soundtrack. Having not seen the film before, either at the cinema or on any home entertainment system I cannot comment for sure. The line is from the character of Joyce spoke to Jimmy just before they make love. Jimmy says ĎGoodnightí and Joyce calls him back. The line from Joyce starts off audible and then completely disappears whilst her lips are still visibly moving. Again, I do not know if this is a fault in the DVD or that it might have been present in the original cinema presentation and cut by the Director during the original editing process. There are no subtitles of any kind available at all.

Extras

None.

Overall

ĎA Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardoní is a decent film with some genuinely funny and touching moments that suffers because that the character the audience is asked to identify with is morally reprehensible (although given that Jimmy is a teenager of 17 years of age, with raging hormones, perhaps I should give him a break). All his misfortunes are of his own making and even by the filmís finale it seems that Jimmy has learnt nothing from his escapades. Jimmy is similar in character to Ferris Bueller but without the charm and wit. A low level entry into the teen movie genre but still one that can give an enjoyable eveningís entertainment.

The Film: B- Video: B- Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: B-

 


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