Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cannon Fodder?: Street Smart (1987)

On the plus side, it might have almost been worth it.  Today's Film is Street Smart, a 1987 Film from Cannon Films.  As mentioned in the previous Review, Reeve wanted to do this Film and leveraged a Superman Sequel to get it made.  That Superman Film is infamously-bad and did irreparable damage to his career.  It would all be worth it if he finally got his Oscar.  Well, he got someone an Oscar...nomination.    It's a third degree victory, I guess.  The Film tells the tale of a Journalist who does the worst thing he can do to get a Story- make it up.  Years before the idea of 'Fake News' or famous cases of Journalists caught in their lies, this one was doing it.  Unfortunately for him, his Story is used by a devious Pimp and his Attorney to try and get away with murder.  Can he admit the truth?  Can he save himself?  Can he save those around him?  To find out how Reeve did his best to shed the Superman veneer, read on...
Reeve is a Journalist trying to get more attention and respect.  He goes all in on a Story...that he has no chance of getting.
Morgan Freeman (no, really) is a Pimp.  He's doing well...until a 'John' dies with him in the room.
After none of his sources pan out and a desperate gambit fails, he does something bad- he makes up the story entirely.
Freeman's Lawyer comes up with the idea of trying to use Reeve's Story as cover- giving him a fake alibi- and the pair meet up.  Reeve gets to see the guy be a bit scary.
As the Story gets Reeve more success and attention, he also ends up getting a bit too close to the other side...
When Reeve refuses to turn over his notes (which don't exist), he is sent to Jail for contempt.  Was it worth it?
Back on the Streets, Freeman pushes for Reeve to provide his 'notes' and his alibi.  He's not playing around!
In the bit that clearly got Freeman is first Oscar nod, he pushes his Prostitute to not turn him on.  Then she does.

Good, but also a bit pointless.
When things get more personal- as his girlfriend is attacked-, Reeve does the dirty double feature- helping Freeman get off the hook and then setting him up to be killed.

In the aftermath, he reports on the Story and...did he learn a lesson?  The End.
It's actually pretty damn good.  To be fair, it probably wasn't going to be bad.  Morgan Freeman is, you know, Morgan Freeman and Reeve was always underrated as an Actor.  He just had this natural ability to be interesting and charming- even in the last two terrible Superman Sequels.  Hell, I actually liked him in Village of the Damned- just nothing else in that Film.  This Movie had nowhere to go but down.  To their credit, it doesn't really.  There are some cheats here and there- like one undated photo somehow disproving the truth- and bits that weren't really necessary.  Is there a pay-off to Reeve sleeping with the Prostitute?  Did we need the Lawyer trying to recruit said Prostitute in an extended Scene just for her to say 'no?'  Did we need Morgan Freeman threatening people with sharp instruments as many times as he does?  Petty little stuff like that aside, Street Smart shows what Reeve could do what people let him not be Superman.  He's sneaky, lying and mostly in it for himself.  He learns a lesson, but he never really becomes 'good' by the end.  If he was good, he would have found a way to get Freeman put away without helping him?  Instead, he does a multi-part plan to get him killed and then benefit from his death.  You were Nightcrawler before it was cool, man!  The Film is actually really good, thankfully not too-dated and Freeman definitely deserved that Oscar nom.  Looking at who Reeve would have been against to get a nomination for himself- Jack Nicholson, Robin Williams, William Hurt, Michael Douglas and Marcello Mastroianni-, he didn't have much of a shot.  Should Freeman have won over Sean Connery though- maybe.  1988 was a weird year for the Oscars- Dirty Dancing, The Princess Bride, Beverly Hills Cop II and Mannequin were all up for Best Song!- so who knows.  Was it worth it?  Maybe not, all things considering, but at least the Film was good.  Then again...
Next time, I finally go back and review a Cult Classic that I somehow skipped.  With a bad Director but great features, it is going interesting.  Stay tuned...

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