Chuck and Bill start a prostitution service out of the city morgue.
As far as comedies go, no idea is off limits. They’ve gone to outer space, hell, heaven, and everywhere in between. If it’s weird, wacky or even normal, you bet there’s a comedy movie about it somewhere. However, not all ideas land. Take Adam Sandler’s latest fare. His hits like The Water Boy, Billy Madison, and Happy Gilmore took seemingly normal concepts and spun them on their head. What resulted were hilarious films that college dudes will continue to watch hungover or otherwise for decades to come. Yet he’s had flops too. Grown Ups, Jack And Jill, and You Don’t Mess With The Zoltan just didn’t land. Some parts were funny, but most of the films weren’t. With Ron Howard’s 1982 comedy Night Shift, an out there idea just doesn’t really land. Instead of being funny, the whole idea just seems kind of odd.
Bill and Chuck on the streets of New York City.
Chuck (Henry Winkler) is a former Wall Street man now working as an attendant at the New York City Morgue. He’s been on the job for 6 years and has just been demoted to the night shift, with his bosses’ dimwitted nephew taking his old shift. What he thinks will be a quiet, boring shift is instead flipped on its head by his new partner Bill “Blaze” Blazejowski. Bill wears loud clothes, listens to loud music, and talks with machine gun speed. He’s constantly looking for new ideas, and carries a tape recorder to jot down his every thought. After seeing his neighbor Belinda (Shelley Long) beat up in their apartment building’s elevator, Chuck seeks to help her out. Using his Wall Street acumen, he and Bill start a prostitution service right out of the morgue.
Bill and Chuck often had arguments about how to proceed.
The film starts out as quite hilarious actually, with Winkler deftly playing the lovable loser type that he’s occupied in his modern comedy work. Similar to his Coach Klein in The Waterboy, Chuck is a melancholy fellow who’s shrugging his way through life. His body image obsessed fiancé won’t let him look at her, and his boss is a jerk. The introduction of Bill provides a spark in Chuck’s dull life, and one in the film as well. In his first film role, Keaton is his later career self, talking a mile-a-minute and cracking jokes left and right. Blaze is a riot and the only consistently funny aspect of the film. Shelley Long is one-dimensional in her role as Belinda, not due to her performance but the lack of any real importance given to the character. She’s merely a door to be opened for the film to move along.
Bill passes out after he is forced to take a job as a plaything Tarzan.
After the first half gags of the film, its main story and comedic idea fall flat. At first, one isn’t really sure of what Bill and Chuck are going to do with their crappy night shift. Yet once the viewer realizes what they’re really doing, it’s almost awkward in a way. Here’s a Ron Howard film (yes, the guy who did Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind) about two average joe’s starting a prostitution ring. It’s funny for about a second and then gets dark once you really think about it. To top it off, they’re running their sex business out of a morgue. Dead people and hookers don’t really make a funny comedic duo.
Belinda and Chuck rescue Bill from the “jungle”.
Blaze holding court in the morgue office, shot 1.
Bill sports a unique pair of chucks in various parts of the film. He sports red high tops with red/green, Christmas type laces on them. The best scene is when we see him holding court in the morgue office, leaning back in the chair with his feet on the desk.
Blaze holding court in the morgue office, shot 2.
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