I had to think if this was a “memory movie,” or not. No, no, I didn’t, it’s definitely a memory movie. I just couldn’t think of a good way to start this review. Yeah, this is a big time memory movie for me and the only romantic comedy I like enough to own. Not a big fan of that genre at all, but aside from this flick I’m about to tell you about, I did end up seeing and somewhat liking Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) and Something’s Gotta Give (2003).
It was winter ’95 when I saw this on cable. I was working at Service Merchandise at the mall in their warehouse and looking for a better job. It’s funny when you’re in a good chapter of your life sometimes you don’t know it until you’re out of it. Service Merchandise was a good chapter, but I didn’t see it at the time and I remember having a job interview for this other warehouse job. I had temped at this place a year or two before so I knew what it was going in, but it was the interview with the floor manager that killed it for me. And I’m glad it did, now that I think about it. I remember he had several missing teeth and he wanted me to go for a drug test, which I didn’t have a problem with, but he was ready to hire me on the spot for the following Monday before drug testing me. Then he got aggressive when he told me if that drug test cames back positive he was hauling me right off the floor, or words to that effect. That sudden change in attitude, and those damn missing teeth, instantly rubbed me the wrong way. I remember saying, ‘sure, okay,’ but after I left I knew I wasn’t planning on showing up Monday.
On the way home it was sleeting so bad the build up off ice on my windshield forced me to pull into a nearby Burger King where I had to get out and clear it off. For some reason my wipers weren’t doing what their job properly. I think I had seen Speechless, like, maybe a day or two before. Pretty sure I liked it to the point where I recorded it. If not, then I knew it was coming on again, because when I got home I remember fixing lunch, thinking, well, that interview was shit, and wanting to watch Speechless again because it’s kind of a relaxing movie.
I look back at that interview and still wonder why I even filled out an application. I hated that place when I temped there before. Anyhow I remember going to work Monday at Service and half wondering if that guy was pissed I never showed up? I ended up quitting Service in April of that year, a month shy of a full year working there, which also was a mistake. So, that’s the memory that comes up when I think about Speechless.
Kevin Vallick (Michael Keaton) and Julia Mann (Geena Davis) are political speechwriters who get hired at the same time, and have to travel down to New Mexico. Vallick writes for Republican Garvin (Ray Baker) and Mann writes for Democrat Wannamaker (Mitch Ryan). Both of these politicians are vying for a senate seat down in New Mexico. Vallick and Mann meet one night when neither can sleep and both head down to the pharmacy to get something to knock their asses out.
The usual banter ensues and before you know it both of them are in Vallick’s car heading over the border for some local food Vallick insists she has to try. The car breaks down, not really, it runs out of gas, but neither of them thought to check, presuming it’s an engine problem. They continue to chit-chat in that manner only two people smitten with one another know how to do, and by morning both of then are finally making out in his car. And still neither one has revealed they are speechwriters working for their respective campaigns. All Vallick knows, or thinks he knows, is Mann is a reporter covering the candidates, and all Mann knows, or thinks she knows, is Vallick is a screenwriter, which he was, he used to write for this sitcom called Chuck (Harry Shearer) & Eddie (Steven Wright). It’s not permitted for employees from either campaign to fraternize, if they do, they’re kicked to the curb.
Well all is going fairly well in this budding relationship until both end up doing this informal “get-together” at the local grade school where each will tell the kids a little bit about what being a speechwriter is and take some questions. That’s when they learn who each other really is and we get some nice comic hijinks as they covertly argue with one another as the kids ask them questions, which escalates badly and leaves the kids looking shocked as all hell. Trust me, that whole scene is really entertaining.
To make matters worse Mann’s ex-boyfriend comes to town looking to get back together. She was once engaged to him and he’s a big shot reporter, the kind that puts their lives on the line in middle-eastern countries to get the news. Bob Freed (Christopher Reece) is his name, but he’s so famous for doing what he does, he’s acquired a nickname—Baghdad Bob. And now that Mann is pissed at Vallick for lying to her, she’s reconsidering re-igniting their engagement.
Meanwhile Vallick gets back at her, and argues with her, again, through the speeches he writes for Garvin. Ditto for her with Wannamaker, but we know this is all just masking the desire to want to be with each other. Eventually Freed finally reminds Mann of why they broke off their relationship to begin with and she breaks it off again. For good this time. Great! Excellent! Now Vallick has got his opening and he goes for it. They end up in bed together, but you know how these rom-coms go, there has to be a big misunderstanding that gets them both apart again, and here it involves an infomercial Vallick was supposed to write but couldn’t because he and Mann were drunk and bumping uglies the night before, so Mann secretly writes it for him, while at the same time some important financial documents go missing. Said documents that were sent to Vallick along with the old script for the infomercial that didn’t cut it. Anyway, the financial docs end up being the kind of thing that can bring down a politician and they get leaked to the press . . . Vallick thinks Mann did it . . . and there ya go, splitsville!
I like this movie until the inevitable happy ending all these rom-coms have assaulted my senses. Where each realize they fucked up, in this case Vallick more than Mann, and there’s this unreal big scene at the end at this convention where Vallick stops the proceedings and tells Mann how much he loves her, blah, blah, blah. That’s probably why I never took to this genera, it’s so unreal, so over the top, so not what would ever happen anywhere in any reality. Let’s end one of these movies where the two actually break up and find other people. Or just break up and life goes on. Anyhow, aside from the last five or ten minutes, where I always find myself cringing with intolerance, I love watching this flick. It helps a lot that I’m a fan of Michael Keaton, Geena Davis and the late Christopher Reeve.
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) and Bonnie Bedelia (Salem’s Lot, Die Hard) are also in this in small roles. Hudson is Davis’ boss and Bedelia is revealed to be Keaton’s ex-wife. Ron Underwood directed this movie and you all might know that name better when it’s connected to the Tremors franchise. He co-wrote, directed and/or executive produced the movies and the SyFy series.
MGM themselves released this movie on DVD way back in 2001, but now they’ve allowed Olive Films to release it on blu-ray for the first time on February 16th!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio—No subs
I remember being incredibly disappointed in how bad the 2001 DVD looked and at that time it was the worst looking DVD I had in my collection. No joke. And for an MGM flick, a big studio MGM flick, I mean, I couldn’t understand why the studio would put out something that looked that bad. I watched it once and never watched it again. This blu-ray, however, is a much different story. Very clear and very crisp. It’ll make you forget that DVD ever existed.
Extras included . . .
If you’re a fan of this throwback rom-com, you really need to upgrade to this blu! That’s all I have to say. Now make it so.