Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On the New Jersey Turnpike, No One Can Hear You Scream

That was the excellent tagline for one of Richard Pryor's minor hit films, Moving. Playing off the infamous "In space, no one can hear you scream" of Alien, this absurd comedy pits middle-class Dad Pryor versus the indignities of every day life as he attempts to move his family to a nice house in the suburbs. I'm packing up and moving soon, so I wanted to review this enjoyable '80s flick, but it is criminally out of print. Now, it's not one of Pryor's best, like my favorites- The Toy, Blue Collar, and Silver Streak- but it's better than most late '80s fare. It hits a lot of the same notes as Joe Dante's The 'Burbs, but never gets quite bizarre enough to reach that pinnacle.

Randy Quaid plays his jerk neighbor in both states, and Dana Carvey has an early role as a wacky guy he hires to drive his car to Idaho, where they are moving. It plays on familiar fantasies to escape the cramped, crazy life in New Jersey's older suburbs where congestion reigns, and substitutes new annoyances in his new state. Like many Jerseyans who fled to Pennsylvania to be baffled by their Puritan liquor laws and a paucity of civilized conveniences, which make Jersey so crowded in the first place. The grass is always greener, even if it's asphalt covered in cigarette butts.

The most memorable scene is the ending, when Pryor's mild-mannered Dad finally gets fed up, dresses like a ninja, and starts kicking the ass of the movers who arrived weeks late with their belongings. One of them is played by wrestler King Kong Bundy, and it makes for an amusing bit of craziness that needed to be amped up throughout the film to bring things up a peg. As it is, it's similar to several late '80s comedies like Chevy Chase's Funny Farm, where things sound a lot funnier than they actually play out. Moving, however, has Richard Pryor and his one of a kind physical comedy. Has anyone expressed utter apoplectic rage and terror like his wide-eyed, lip-biting visage, as if his head were about to explode?

My friend Jay over at The Sexy Armpit wrote a much more in-depth review on his blog, and I send you there for great screen shots of this Jersey classic.

© 2010 Thomas Pluck.


Jay Amabile said...

that was awesome Tommy, thanks for the mention! I'm glad you wrote that Moving never reaches the bizarre heights of the Burbs - that's one of my all time favorites!

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