Don't come back from the dead.
I had the most befuzzling evening the other night. I have recently found myself on this weird Shelley Long journey. With a madcap romp through OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE and TROOP BEVERLY HILLS and I decided it was time to say hello again to HELLO AGAIN.
As it started I realized that I had not seen HELLO AGAIN in over two decades. It perplexed me, because I remembered it vividly or did I? If you had asked me two days ago what I thought of HELLO AGAIN, I would most likely have replied, "It's pretty funny and I love Shelley Long". Today things changed.
The credits started and I already felt off balance. The name Susan Isaacs popped up as writer, producer and CASTING DIRECTOR! I could have screamed with delight and slight dread. Ms. Isaacs is world famous for her novel SHINING THROUGH. Yes, that Shining Through! The movie where Melanie Griffith fights Nazis and gets some of the best FOR THE BOYS aging make-up ever. That is all beside the point though. We get a close up of Long's big eyes and some of the cheapest ass rom-com music I have ever heard. We get a hurried back story of Long's character, Lucy Chadman. She is an ordinary gal with an okayish husband, played by Corbin Bernsen in his hottish years. Her barely legal son is a dreamboat though. He is an aspiring chef and wears an apron with a bandanna decorating his neck. A look that is possibly one of the fastest ways to get me in sack. But what you really need to understand is that Lucy Chadman a KLUTZ! A big one too! She falls down at the drop of a hat. She walks into a fancy party and her skirt falls down around her ankles! HA! It's funny, yo! It's like 20 minutes into the movie and I thought, "Ain't this hag dead yet? HELLO! AGAIN"!
OH! Sela Ward is in HELLO AGAIN as a best friend/arch enemy to Long's "ordinary lady" and she is the shit! She gives us some DIE NASTY realness and shoot glamor out of her ass. Judith Ivey is on board as Long's sister and she is super satanic. The director, Frank Perry, seemed to want to stir away from scary super satanic, so Ivey is funny super satanic. Problem is, she is terrible. I usually love me a Judith Ivey supporting role, but this is the pits. Shelley Long chokes to death and we have to watch her funeral with her son completely losing his SHIT and everyone super sad. FUN! Cut one year later and super satanic sister has stumbled on a spell that will bring her beloved sister back from the dead. ONE YEAR LATER! Honey, I read Pet Sematary, I know what they come back like! HELLO! AGAIN!
So one day, Lucy shows back up and has discovered that her husband has dealt with his grief by banging Sela Ward (is there any other way?) and marrying her! Lucy bust up in her home and finds Sela getting busy in her OWN BED! Also, her son is a famous cook and married to some ugly girl,but no one cares.
She is not a ghost, because you cannot walk through her. She goes to the doctor to get blood test and x-rays, once AGAIN (!) proving she was dead but now isn't? I'm cornfused. Well, now what do you do with her? She loves her Coke (proud sponsor of HELLO AGAIN) and she is DYING to know what is happening on Knots Landing. My kinda fresh out of the grave gal. We get baker's dozen dead mom jokes, all flat lining, a couple more pratfalls in which you hope they result in a death inducing accident and lots of leg! Oh, Shelley has legs for days and she is gonna show 'em off. Then, Super Satanic Sister informs Lucy that she needs to find true love by the first moon after her revival and she has less than a month to do so! GIT IT GIRL!! There is some pre- Troop Beverly Hills high fashion, which is fun, but without the yuks. She also is forced back into the hospital for some reason and meets cutie Gabriel Byrne M.D. She has to take some Exorcist 2 testing and walks down the hall with her hospital gown flapping open and showing her BUTT! There is the yuk!
Lucy decides to embrace her dead self and say to the world….all together now….HELLO AGAIN! She embarks on a world wide rainbow tour of the continents kissing babies, giving lectures and shopping and apparently forgetting her "must find true love in a month" curse. Or maybe there was not a moon that month and she got a get out of the grave free pass. She morphs into a fame monster for a little while but learns a valuable lesson and helps troubled kids. There is this little girl named Lil' Debbie who won't stop looking at the camera. She tries really, really hard not to do it, but she just can't help it. I would look too.
Sela Ward gets mad and holds a press conference to prove that Lucy Chadman is a fake and a phony. She claims that Lucy never really died because she doesn't have cobwebs in her pussy or worms under her skin or smell like dirt for that matter. The great part about the press conference is two fold. First, it looks like it held in that gross Chinese restaurant in Ballard. I forgot what it is called, but I have had lunch there more than three times and it is creep out city. Secondly, a roving reporter is played by that lady on Where the fuck is Carmen Sandiego? We found her!!! She is at the HELLO AGAIN press conference! Score! And she is throwing some MAJOR attitude. Shelley blows off the crowd and the nay sayers and walks out the building ala Pia after delivering her Award Presentation Ceremony speech.
Later! At a fancy party that the entire cast has been invited too, sans Lucy, Sela Ward is the queen of the ball. That is until Lucy crashes the party along with her super satanic sister. SSS starts conjuring up the spirits and someone flashes the lights on and off and on and off quickly. At this very moment something fell in my back bedroom and scared the shit out of me. So now I can say I got scared during HELLO AGAIN. Lucy's husband dumps Sela Ward, but Lucy dumps her husband for Gabriel Byrne M.D. and everyone is happy I guess. The end. This has the stink of a two hour made for TV pilot.
The final credits play over a montage of photos of the entire cast marrying one another, then a montage of photos of the married couples with their children. Shelley Long is, of course, the last and she has what all girls dream of…ZOMBIE TWINS! TOO CUTE!!!
Shelley Long's portrayal of Lucy Chadman hearkens back to Ally Sheedy in MAID TO ORDER or for Deena Jones' sake, Madonna in WHO'S THAT GIRL? On paper the role seems like a good idea, but once visualized you want to kill! You want blood after having to sit through it. All in all, it is a pretty miserable experience. Director Frank Perry who created two of my favorite movies, MOMMIE DEAREST and THE SWIMMER, seems to have just filmed some shit, turned it over to the studio and let the editors have a go with their chainsaws. I imagine this is one of those films that the studio tested and preview audiences hated, so they went back and changed more stuff and filmed more scenes. Evidenced through hair styles going from shorter to longer. Not Sela Ward though. If she showed up to do any more re-takes, she made sure she looked exactly the same. Where is her OSCAR?
*******And now I can't stop calling this movie DEAD AGAIN!!!********
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