I was wondering why, for such a cheap-ish movie, The Squeeze looks so good. Its budget almost doubled, allowing for some really expensive looking sequences on an aircraft carrier, a decent amount of New York photography and… I don’t know, something else. It also almost starred Jenny Wright in the Rae Dawn Chong part, which would have been an improvement of sorts (Mrs. Potato Head would have given a more animate performance than Chong) but not enough of one to make the movie work.
Some of The Squeeze, the parts centering around Chong, seem to be an attempt at a 1940s detective comedy updated to modernity. The parts with Michael Keaton (who’s either an artist or an inventor, it’s never clear) make absolutely no sense. His character makes no sense and seems dropped into the movie, rather than the movie being the story of his life’s most interesting four days. It’s too bad the beginning with Keaton opens well, as he rambles on about “Bonanza,” I thought The Squeeze might be some weird forerunner to Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino.
Alas, it is not.
Chong’s performance is so awful, it’d take a line-by-line analysis to appropriately discuss it. Keaton’s okay. He’s best in the first act, when the movie could conceivably go anywhere and at the end, when the conclusion inadvertently shows how the movie could have worked. As Keaton’s friend, Joe Pantoliano is sturdy, but not in it enough. Meat Loaf plays a thug with a sweating problem. It’s a big joke throughout and is maybe the best metaphor for the film’s failure.
On the other hand, Richard Portnow plays a (seemingly) gay Puerto Rican club owner and is great.
As soon as The Squeeze went bad, I had to debate whether or not to finish it. There was nothing compelling me to finish it, so I had to decide if it would be a complete waste of my time….
The big conclusion on the aircraft carrier is kind of neat and the movie, in the third act, all of a sudden decides its going to offer commentary on modern American values… and I guess the close is kind of funny.
But it certainly didn’t live up to the “Bonanza” conversation of the beginning.
Directed by Roger Young; written by Daniel Taplitz; director of photography, Arthur Albert; edited by Harry Keramidas; music by Miles Goodman; production designer, Simon Waters; produced by Rupert Hitzig and Michael Tannen; released by Tri-Star Pictures.
Starring Michael Keaton (Harry Berg), Rae Dawn Chong (Rachel Dobs), Joe Pantoliano (Norman), Meat Loaf (Titus), John Davidson (Tom T. Murray), Ronald Guttman (Rigaud), Leslie Bevis (Gem Vigo), George Gerdes (Joe) and Richard Portnow (Ruben).