1987 was a year of transition. There was a shift in the universe of cinema. One of the hardest hit genres was the teen comedy. Everyone was growing up. Even John Hughes had left the teens behind and moved on to more adult fare like Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A handful of films survived the fall-out. Classics like Can't Buy Me Love, The Lost Boys and Adventures In Babysitting were teen heavy, but found an audience. One film did not have as much luck. It contains all the elements that support it's case for being classified as a UGH MOVIE. It is a vanity project, it goes completely haywire and it is so utterly boring, that you start to wonder why you ever like The Bangles to begin with. THE ALLNIGHTER is a piece of cinema that challenges your endurance and stamina. It leaves you tattered and torn and asking the age old question, " Does Pam Grier age?"
First off, the movie is all over the place. You can tell in the opening credits this Susanna Hoffs vehicle is going to be a mess. It starts with Joan Cusack, who normally can save any movie she is in, holding a big ass videotape camera and documenting all of her friends. They say things that are unimportant and make goofy faces. As the credits end, Joan looks into the camera and states, "I hope someone sees this tape in the future and looks back on it like a time capsule." Be careful what you wish for. As the last credit unfolds, we discover that Tamara Scott Hoffs (Susanna's mother) directed the film. Interesting. What is weird, is that we are not even ten minutes into THE ALLNIGHTER and it is already starting to show tell tell-tale signs that we are in for a world of trouble. It is just weird. Not bad weird, just weird weird. So far.
The film takes place on the last two days of school at Pacifcia College. So everyone is graduating from college, but everyone is acting like they are in high school. I mean, I understand that maybe the first year/ year and a half, you have to get all that high school shit out of your system, but by year four, you understand that you are paying for this shit and better get your act together. Maybe it is a just a junior college or something, then the rules are vastly different. Somehow Molly Morrison (played by Susanna Hoffs) is not only the dumbest person in school, but found a way to become valedictorian. I know...I know...you just have to let it happen. So far, Molly's only problem is trying to find just the right thing to say to the graduating class of 1987 and it seems to be causing her a lot of trouble from the things she says, but she only has one reaction to anything. And this is it:
Remember this face sans tear, because it is her reaction to everything. The movie turns into Point Break for a little while, as a bunch of boys surf and we discover that Dedee Pfeiffer gets to play Molly's best friend. The joy of Dedee is uncontrollable. I love a good little sister and she looks like Michelle so much, but just a little off. Dedee came into my life via Mary Masterson in one of the best made for TV movies ever called THE MIDNIGHT HOUR. Yeah, so what if it stars Shari Belafonta-Harper? I hate her too, but this movie is so fucking awesome. It is a total rip off of MJ's THRILLER video, but it rocks!
Anyway, Dedee plays a sunny California Gurl named Val. Hanging out at the beach, the girls start discussing the big night ahead of them. Whispers of massive funnin' circle them as background characters say things like, "ALL NIGHT LONG!" and "Tonight's the FIESTA!!" I like a good Fiesta. And if one last all night long, I am so there. Very promising. DeDe seems like Meryl Streep next to Susanna Hoffs. She is fun and full of live, unlike Molly. But I kept reminding myself that Molly has a lot on her mind cuz she has to think up a speech for the following day, so I let her non reactions to everyone and everything slide. Girl has a lot on her mind. Then it happens and my hatred for Susanna Hoffs started to burn deep inside me. The camera points out to the water and her surfer dude boyfriend emerges, played by none other than JOHN FUCKING TERLESKY!!! You need someone to save your movie, fuck Joan, call John! He will totally do it and most likely for less money. He is a total ringer. Now I was pissed because Susanna Hoffs got to be in a movie with John and this is the way she acts?! GET REAL SISTER!
The movie tosses in a scene with the entire cast eating a stew full of weed, which leads to the VERY FUNNY joke, "THERE'S POT IN THE POT!" HAR. HAR. Dedee yells, "Brad's Coming!" Who is Brad? Brad is the cute nerd/douche type and they are going to have sexy night together, so De blows off her friends and the BIG FIESTA to go get banged. Then Molly gets news that her favorite recording star is coming to town and she can't wait to meet him and hopefully get fucked by him, even though she has the dreamy and sweetest man EVER. This plot device has been used soooo many times in films. Two examples are SHAG which did it much better and EMPIRE RECORDS which did it better than THE ALL NIGHTER but not as good as SHAG. The moment she meets him she informs him that she does a dance to the song "Respect" and Dedee usually does it with her, but since Dedee is getting laid she can't and she will have to do it alone. She starts doing some swaying side to side and moving her head. It looks weird. Not weird weird. BAD WEIRD. I think there was suppose to be a connection between the digestion of a ton of pot and this dance, but I think some drug use scenes were cut out and it just seems nightmarish. I like to think she made up a new dance called "The Trot". Everybody DO THE TROT!!!
The Fiesta is in high gear and nothing is going on. The cast is acting like ST. Elmo's Friends as they talk about life, love and all that other garbage. The dance, drink, yell and eat. One of my favorite lines is, "I can't believe you ordered french fries!" Why Joan Cusack can't believe that someone would order french fries is beyond me and never explained. Please refer to the above photo of Susanna Hoffs reaction to any of the things going on. Suddenly, Hoffs is back at her house getting ready for her big date with a musician. She poses in her underwear, stretches in her underwear and makes "cute" faces in the mirror all while in her underwear. I just kept thinking, "Why would her MOTHER direct her in the this scene?" To make a boring story less boring, Hoffs gets dumped and trapped on the balcony of the jerk musicians hotel room while he bangs his girlfriend. Boy is she bored. She calls her friends with the telephone on the balcony (why not?!) but has to leave a message. She then proceeds to climb over the railing to the next hotel room and I think it is suppose to be funny, but it isn't and she looks like she hates her life. I think this is the point when Susanna Hoffs just gave up and realized that while she had to finish the film, she didn't have to enjoy it. Physical comedy is not her strongest suit. Joan Cusack finally gets the message and dashes to the rescue. The hotel is ALSO the same hotel where Dedee is getting some game and is the BIGGEST 'HO STROLL in L.A.!!! Dedee and Joan get tossed into jail because they are mistaken as hookers, but Hoffs escapes. Pam Grier pre-Jackie Brown days slums as the prison warden with a not so golden heart and treats the girls like they are in THE BIG BIRDCAGE, which is awesome. We are only an hour and ten minutes into the movie. We are reaching the final 20 minutes and things are still all over the place. Hoffs has to get her friends out of jail and still have time to write her graduation speech. Can she do it?! There is only one person who can help her!
JOHN TERLESKY TO THE RESCUE!!!
The Allnighter turns into The Two-Dayer and we are treated to a ten minute montage of surfing, which we had already seen in the beginning of the film and then the WEIRDEST THING happens. John and his best surfing friend are drinking bud lights and looking out at the surf. John's BF tells him that he can't stay and must go and it gets sappy. Like Brokeback Beach or something. Would me dream come true of John making it with another dude? No such luck. BACK TO THE GIRLS!!!
Hoffs is STILL trying to figure out what to say to inspire the graduating class of Pacifica Jr. College and then Terlesky shows up to give her a end of the school year bang and it gets real sexy for two minutes and we get to see a lot of Terlesky flesh, then is it RIGHT to graduation. Hoffs takes the stage and grabs ahold of her cap and starts yakking, but just as soon as her BIG SPEECH starts, some late 80's throw away song starts playing and all of her dialogue is lost in the music. Most likely, a good thing, but damn i wanted to hear what she said! The movie ends with the cast all locking arms and walking and smiling and me yelling at the movie, "YOU AIN'T GREASE!!"
THE ALLNIGHTER suffers and makes you suffer, so everyone loses. Thankfully, no one saw this movie or even cared and Hoffs remains a beloved member of The Bangles. Joan went on to critical and box office acclaim. John went on to invade most of my better dreams and Dedee went on to be a working actor in tons of shit, but her biggest break was being Michelle's sister. THE ALLNIGHTER failed to become one of those classic coming of age films, but does deliver some of the best UGH moments ever!
Universal thought so little of this film, that the dvd DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A MENU!!! It just starts right up!