Friday, October 15, 2010

ST. ELMO’S FRIDAY, PT. VII: Kirbo Rising


Our poor shabbified Kevin has his second pointless encounter in the alley with his “secret love,” Madame Naomi.* “What would you say the meaning of life is?” he asks her. “Got 50 bucks? I'll show you the meaning of life,” she replies.

KEVIN: I don't pay for sex.
NAOMI: Oh, no? You think that if you get a little wife or girlfriend that you don't pay? You pay. Then you can't be sure you'll get it. With Naomi...You pay, and you get it. You get it gooooooood.

While she says this, she does some sort of hooker tongue-roll that, again, gives me a boner, which is enough to take away my attention from the fact that the scene serves absolutely no purpose (as does scenes IV, V, VIII, X, XI, XVII…). Naomi disappears from the rest of the film.
*Director Joel Schumacher – whom Rob Lowe referred to as “Mr. Schu” – included the scenes with Naomi after witnessing a similar conversation between a hooker and his limo driver. You can’t make this stuff up.


Here’s another one of those proto-Mad Men scenes where we see our stylized leads intermingling with marginal characters from marginal backgrounds. This time it’s the homeless population of urban D.C., who mull silently around Jules, Leslie and Wendy like George Romero’s zombies. Wendy comforting an uptight chef who complains they won’t have enough food to feed the populace and Wendy assures him “Oh, we'll have plenty. We'll be fine. There'll be enough.” (If she had this job, Jules probably would have made some sort of “let them eat cake” remark shortly before being decapitated.)

Leslie and Jules want to take Wend to lunch at Le Petit Château, but Wendy balks on how this will look. Leslie suggests they eat at the soup kitchen. Jules gives her a look like she just asked them to wade across a cesspool in their bathing suits. “And for our entrée,” she whines, “Campbell mushroom barley. How chic.” She is quickly tying up FuckFace as the most reprehensible character in this lil’ passion play. Wend introduces them to Myra, a gaunt, sallow bag lady with blackened circles under her eyes and a man’s wool cap shoved down on her head. She nods politely to the ladies and moves on, more interested in the food. Go, Myra!

Quite coincidentally, the ladies are discussing another outcast:

LESLIE: How's Howie?
WENDY: Well, I wouldn't say my father's trying to bribe me, but he did offer me a convertible if I'd get engaged to Howie.
JULES: Have you fucked him yet?
WENDY: Jules! God!
JULES: Get the car, fuck him, and if you don't like it, break the engagement. (beat) Then you can still fuck him!

Like Lowe, Moore has a way of making this loathsome character attractive – mainly, by tossing her head back and laughing outrageously. She does it again once the girls sit down in the cafeteria next to Myra, who begins staring at Jules as if she were some sort of desert mirage. Leslie and Wendy reveal that they’re staging some sort of behavior intervention for her affair with her boss. Jules responds with a nice summation of the future of reality-based fame that will prove to be quite accurate: “Leslie, this is the '80s. I bop him, get his job when he gets his hand caught in the vault become a legend, get caught in a sex scandal, retire in massive disgrace, write a bestseller and become the host of my own talk show.”

Myra: Falling in Love
Jules also has plans for her lingering stepmonster: “It turns out cremation is just as expensive as the non-torch method. If I don't come up with a cheaper solution, I'll end up a bag lady.” (beat) Of course, I'll have alligator bags.” (laughs and throws head back again)

She excuses herself from the intervention, saying she has to go meet Forrester. Myra watches Jules sweep out of the room, transfixed. Les and Wend shake their head: “She’s worse.” They should have called Candy Finnegan.


Shot in the gauzy,creamy light of an L.L. Bean ad or Summer’s Eve douche commercial, Leslie and Wend stroll down a cobblestone walkway, unmolested by the homeless people who have all been gathered up and deposited at the soup kitchen. Discussing Billy and Alec, Wendy equates FuckFace with another lethal habit, smoking: “I go as long as I can, and then I just gotta have a hit.” They agree in a much-quoted line: “Men: Can't live with them, can't shoot them.” Yeah, that Howie, what an ogre.


In the previous scene, Leslie alluded to FuckFace's new job: “Alec's got him working for this Korean gangster and I think Billy's doing a really good job.” Cut immediately to FuckFace doing quite a job on some dirty-blonde mall skank in Mr. Kim Sung Ho's hot tub while awful hard rock plays on the stereo. Kim (Mario Machado) arrives home early and FF is ready with a roguish smile and winking demeanor:

FUCKFACE: Kiiiiiiim! I thought you were comin’ back on Thursday!*
*“Billy had done well. I was proud of him. He fucked up good and proper.”


An exquisitely wrong scene – a testament to the power of an upbeat musical score to smooth over troublesome behavior and give a subtle “thumbs up” to whatever behavior we’re watching. Kirbo, who by this time I completely forgot was even in the picture, hunches on his oversized Special-Ed bike beneath a tree on a street outside Dale Biberman’s apartment building. It begins to rain; Kirbo simply flips up his collar. Dale’s red Datsun pulls out of its parking garage and Kirbo starts following it, almost getting hit by a car – death by this time means nothing to him – and then almost skidding into another car as he pulls up outside a tony G-Town mansion, replete with valets in red jackets holding an umbrella over Dale as she slides effortlessly out of her car and floats into the party.

Cut to a shot that looks like it should be out of a horror movie a la He Knows You’re Alone or When A Stranger Calls: behind a tray of champagne glasses, the camera slowly moves towards the rain-beaded window as Kirbo’s face rises slowly up into view*, soaked to the bone, with a menacing, slitted expression that is decidedly at odds with the upbeat version of the S.E.F. theme. He focuses on the vision of Miss Biberman removing her head-wrap (with the help of an attending servant) and unfolding her gorgeous tresses. Schumacher lights her in a lovely shot, slowing the frames down so that we can get a view of this unattainable beauty from Kirbo’s feverish eyes. Very Martin Scoresees.
*STUDY GROUP QUESTION: This shot is eerily similar to the shot of Martin Sheen rising out of the jungle muck with a painted face in Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Did Schumacher intend this as a homage to Emilio's dad?

Cut to another horror movie trope: a point-of-view shot a la Halloween moving unsteadily through the party, as a nervous voice offscreen asks: “Excuse me, sir, do you have an invitation?” The voice drops away, another strange moment. Wouldn’t Kirbo be immediately ejected from the party? How does he even get in?

We see Dale talking happily to someone before she notices the soaked pathetic figure before her, dripping all over the floor and into her champagne glass, glaring at her with puma-like intensity.

DALE: Kirby! How are you?
KIRBO: I'm obsessed, thank you very much.

Enough for a restraining order right there.


THIS SCENE MAKES EVEN LESS SENSE THAN THE LAST ONE!!! With no explanation or exposition whatsoever, we are suddenly back in Dale’s abode. She has brought Kirbo home! Are we supposed to believe this? That she would immediately leave this swanky party – where no doubt she knows she’s being checked out by rich eligible bachelors – with this weaselly wingnut she barely knows? Then again, there were plenty of witnesses to see them leave together, so that’ll bode well for the murder trial later.

Dale gives her version Kelly LeBrock’s famous “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” defense: “But you don't even know me. I'm very average. Full of flaws. I'm a slob. I can't even make a bed straight. I steal People magazine from my dentist's office. And look. I rarely take out the garbage. Here's my roommate, Judith. She hates me!”

Judith has entered with two arms full of groceries and agrees with Dale (“I hate her”) and we can see why. Judith – played by the usually hot actress Gina Hecht (of Mork & Mindy and Night Shift fame) appears as a frumpy, ill-tempered, badly dressed, chap-lipped roommate, the kind of chick who continuously whines “I want to leeeeave” while you’re trying to mack on her hot friend. We get the drift that Judith might be one of those friends Dale keeps around to make herself feel better, or that Judith is a tight-lipped lesbian who rooms with Dale for one reason and one reason only. When Judith catches Kirbo sniffing one of Dale’s pillows (ick!), she is immediately clued in to what he really is: a rival for Dale’s affections. Back off, you! I’m workin’ to turn this goddess!

Dale, who has a skull with a doctor’s reflector one it perched in her apartment, prattles on: “And here's the worst of all. When I first decided to be a doctor, I thought I wanted to serve people. But now, well, I'm starting to feel that what medicine's really all about is money.”

No shit. Kirbo, with no warning, responds: “It's money, isn't it? That's what you're telling me. It's because I don't have any money. Well, thank you for being so honest.”

He rushes out the door. Does this make any sense? Is this just a scene out of Kribo’s fevered imagination? Was intimidated by all of the wealth he saw at the party? If so, why does he flee once he sees Dale’s apartment – obviously like him she’s still halfway between poverty and wealth, so it would make sense to strike now, before she gets ruined by her profession.

TUNE IN NEXT WEEK: Dale gets ruined by her profession.

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