Night Shift Reviews
Being R rated (I'm thinking it has to do with the subject matter entirely) but having minimal bad language and almost no nudity, it seems like the director and his assistants thought they could get away with holding back. I for one believe that if a film has been saddled with an adult tag, it should stay loyal to that tag (it may not be Howard's fault. He made "Shift" before the MPAA got a hold of it).
Anyway, this film tells the story of Chuck Lumley (played by Henry Winkler a.k.a. "the Fonz"). He's a nice guy, a total pushover, and a former stockbroker now working as an attendant in a New York City morgue. His job seems to suit him just fine until he is forced to switch his hours permanently working the quote unquote "nightshift." While adjusting to his new work schedule, he is forced to partner up with a nervous oddball named Billy "Blaze" Blazejowski (played by Michael Keaton whose comedic talents are better utilized in his next film, Mr. Mom). Billy is an "idea man" who loves to record his thoughts and ambitions on a tape recorder (this plot point doesn't work, trust me). About halfway through the proceedings, Billy proposes to Chuck that they should use the morgue as sort of a location for soliciting prostitution. Winkler's character, reluctantly agrees to go through with it (I find it strange that he's ok with doing it even though he's not fully interested in making a buck on the side). The one benefit I suppose, is that Chuck meets and becomes romantically involved with one of the prostitutes whose name is Belinda (Shelly Long). With all this information firmly in place, the film continues with your everyday series of high jinks moments. It doesn't surprise you or impress you because the screenplay from Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel seems to be written without enough research or depth of the subject matter. As stated earlier, this is Nightshift's one downfall and it sticks out like a sore thumb.
There were indeed, a couple of things to ponder while taking in the events in its 1 hour 46 minute running time. For instance, why when Chuck gets busted by the cops and thrown in jail (for being a pimp of course), does Long's character not even bother to see him or help bail him out. It's established early on that she is in love with him and wants to be with him. Second, why when Billy and Chuck are out on bail and looking at some serious jail time, do they literally get off scott free. I mean, in reality, if you're a pimp and you run a whorehouse, you should probably go to jail for a very very long time. Finally, of perpetual annoyance and occurring with many films I've seen over the years, you have another flick in the long list of pictures that gives us a superficial ending wrapping everything up in a nice neat bow tie (yup, everyone is friends and everything is back to normal). What I can't seem to understand is how Winkler's character within almost less than a minute, forgives "Blaze" (Keaton) and becomes his best buddy. It just feels hypocritical being that he attacks Keaton, tells him he's gonna kill him, and let's him know constantly, that he ruined his life. Then as the flick concludes projecting a poignant shot of Keaton, Long, and Winkler walking through Times Square, you feel cheated or tricked into the realm of numbing acceptance. Again, I feel the actors are just doing what they're told and I can't fault them.
All in all, you have a vehicle where the script manipulates the cast so that they ultimately have to cater to its demands. They basically become puppets. Every performance and speaking voice is decent but you sense that even they (the cast) didn't know how the finished project would look like. Basically, if you dig a lightweight comedy that will make you chuckle once or twice, then Night Shift is for you. If you want to view a memorable, quotable, and untamable risk taker, then don't look here. In the past 30 years, Ron Howard has been successful even to this day. His films are beloved and cherished many times over (for a strange reason, this one is too). Part of me though, wishes he could take back this "night". In one of "shift's" pivotal scenes, Keaton's Billy "Blaze" says, "Is this a great country or what?" Great country yes, great film, not so much.
Always a pleasure to see the under-utilized Clint Howard. Watch for Shannon Doherty, Kevin Costner, Ashley Cox, & KC Winkler too!