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Holiday Marathon 2021 - D.O.A. (1988)

Christmas movies are a pretty big blind spot for me, so here’s to a whole month of getting smothered with the Christmas spirit with some of the best in the genre.

The fact that this is directed by the same couple that did the dreadful Super Mario Bros movie in the early 90’s explains a lot. Apparently, that couple was a nightmare to work with in terms of not knowing what they were doing and their nonstop arguing. This remake of a 1950s noir is a huge mess, with Dennis Quaid playing a writing professor who has lost any mojo he had, creatively or romantically. He finds himself involved in a scheme that involves murder, poison and sex in a short, intense day and a half during which Meg Ryan is (literally!) glued to Quaid’s character as he tries to get to the bottom of all of his troubles. DOA is kind of a riot with scenes that seem to belong in a De Palma. The slow-motion when Dennis Quaid finds his wife killed is just cheesy perfection. There is also a lot of stylistic flourish such as starting out in Black and White as a nod to the original noir this was based on. I don’t know how this couple pulled it off but I think DOA is a lot of campy fun. It helps that the movie has a good cast with a boozy Quaid at the center really holding this kind of insane movie together. Also, Charlotte Rampling has a habit of appearing in these trashy, genre movies and bringing her natural gravitas to whatever role she has, and this one is no exception. I could kind of see how this directing couple actually got scouted for the Super Mario Bros movie from this one because even if the premise is pulpy and ridiculous, the overall product was fun.

Holiday Spirit Quotient: 5 out of 10 Christmas hams. Christmas is more of a backdrop than anything in this movie, but the whole thing does kind of play like a sick version of A Christmas Carol where the main character has to reckon with his past in a short period of time.


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