Second Sight

By Adam Lippe

secondsight4Much like the Pat Morita/Jay Leno vehicle, Collision Course, Second Sight has been an HBO staple for a very long time. Both heavily feature actors better suited for TV and neither has any aspirations to be anything less than reassuringly irritating. However, unlike virtually every second of Collision Course, Second Sight is never boring, despite the sitcom structure of the writing and directing and the fact that it is never adventurously bad, just entertainingly so. While watching it, a viewer can note the obvious aspects that have been tinkered with by the studio, such as the brief running time, the credit sequence (featuring an absolutely dreadful 80’s-studio-band-style cover of “Do you believe in magic?” ) which is tonally at odds with everything else in the film, and the most bizarre and glaring oddity, that despite having constant Boston landmarks throughout, even a police barrier which says “Boston Police,” we are repeatedly reminded by the dialogue that the movie takes place in LA.

I'm writing another sequel to Mandingo. Would you like to be exploited

I'm writing another sequel to Mandingo. Would you like to be exploited?

Ostensibly, the movie is an attempt to take advantage of Bronson Pinchot and John Larroquette’s popular characters at the time, Balki from Perfect Strangers and Dan Fielding from Night Court, respectively, by slightly elaborating on them. Larroquette plays the sleazy former cop* who is reduced to being second banana in a psychic  detective agency. Pinchot plays the wacky psychic with various random (and convenient) powers, innocent, sweet, and unknowing. He even has a handler played by bad movie magnet Stuart Pankin (before he lost all the weight), the guy you swear was in every Mannequin film, and would have been in 45 more, had they made them. There isn’t a plot point that isn’t entirely predictable, the slapstick is miserable and obvious, and the one-liners all die before they are even uttered. And yet, the whole thing has a weird energy that only fantastically moronic films like Leonard Part 6 have. The filmmakers were all cashing their checks, but the film seems to have a life of its own, as if it didn’t care that its entire basis was a stupid idea, it just kept going until the absurdities built up and your jaw dropped. If there is any movie that can prove that a film strip itself can have an actual living breathing life, Second Sight is it.

*But with a heart of gold. You know, like a hooker.

secondsight1

"No, really, we made the movie in LA!"

secondsight2

"We were not in Boston. It was Los Angeles. Why don't you believe me?"

That's the mom from My So Called Life as a nun. At several points throughout the film, Bronson Pinchot channels her late ex-boyfriend as a very Jewy sounding man named Murray, who explains the plot when exposition is necessary.

On the right, that's the mom from My So-Called Life as a nun. At several points throughout the film, Bronson Pinchot channels her late ex-boyfriend as a very Jewy sounding man named Murray, who explains the plot when exposition is necessary.

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Now on DVD and Blu-Ray

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]


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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.