Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)

Fun, Cold War-era comedy thriller starring Whoopi Goldberg as a bank computer operator who crosses wires with a British spy trapped in Soviet Russia and gets involved in helping him make his escape. The premise is interesting enough in itself that it works as a light little thriller, and it provides Goldberg with one of her best screen vehicles. She had a really likable screen presence that always enlivened the films she appeared in, and her talent with both verbal and physical comedy is well-served here. There are some good action set-pieces too, including a chase involving a phone booth being hauled through the streets of New York, and an exciting sequence on the roof of the British embassy.

It's a minor comedy, to be sure, but is also such a good example of the kind of fun, lightweight entertainment that Hollywood just isn't capable of producing anymore in the era of the blockbuster. There's a lightness to the film, and the sense that it doesn't take itself too seriously, that makes it consistently enjoyable even when the humor is rather mild. Penny Marshall's snappy direction keeps the pacing strong and provides Goldberg with the room to make the most of her role.

The fine supporting cast includes Stephen Collins, John Wood, Carol Kane, Annie Potts, Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman, Tracey Ullman and Jim Belushi, along with Jonathan Pryce in a fun cameo revealed at the end.

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