- Movie Rating -

Fatal Beauty (1987)

| October 23, 1987

Whoopi Goldberg continues to burn whatever good will she achieved in The Color Purple with Fatal Beauty yet another noisy, brainless action picture that shows none of the charm nor the special talents that she displayed in Spielberg’s film or on stage in her stand-up act.  When I saw her enter this picture disguised as a hooker wearing a loud dress and ridiculous sunglasses, I groaned and then sank into my seat ready for a movie that was just as bad as her two previous films, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Burglar.  What followed didn’t prove me wrong.

Fatal Beauty is an ugly, scummy and excessively violent action comedy that casts her as Rita Rizolli a motor-mouthed L.A. cop whose specialty is shaking down dope dealers by threatening to turn them into eunuchs.  Rizolli, works for the narcotics division and is never at a loss to put on a ridiculous outfit in order to go undercover and spout dialogue to potential suspects that is aimed at their sexual habits and their genitals.  This is either character trait or a character flaw.  I can’t decide which.

Her latest assignment centers on a supply of cocaine that accidentally made its way onto the streets in its purest form, thus making it lethal and instantly killing the unsuspecting user.  The trail of the deadly concoction is really kind of pointless and after a while kind of convoluted as the movie keeps piling on character after character whose only real response is to have a shoot-out.  This includes two insane gunmen (Brad Dourif and Mike Jolly) who, more than once, enter a room and kill everyone inside with automatic weapons, followed by a video game-style shoot out backed by a hard-bumping rock score.

Action scenes like that have a certain robotic temper to them.  A lot of people get shot in this movie – a LOT of people get shot in this movie! – and after a while the constant and very violent gun battles get tiresome and really kind of depressing.  So too are Rizolli’s frequent fist fights which seem to come out of nowhere.  At one point, she confronts the mother of a kid who went to a party where all of his friends ended up dead after taking the Fatal Beauty (she herself acquired the stuff) but the woman’s response is so indifferent that I initially thought that maybe Rizollli had the wrong person.  The woman starts punching Rizolli whose response is to throw the woman through a plate glass window.  Not funny, not exciting, just unpleasant and awkward.

That’s this whole movie.  There’s an odd hostility to every scene.  Every person that pops up is uptight, violent (I keep using that word) and either ready to kill or to throttle someone else.  I realize that we are dealing in the L.A. drug world but the whole temperature of this movie is very unsettling.  There’s such a layer of filth and grime on this movie that you just want to grab a can of Lysol.

Breaking up that unwarrented tension are the few solid moments in which Whoopi is allowed to act.  She has a relationship in this movie to a body guard played by Sam Elliott that seems oddly separate from the rest of the movie.  Together they act like flesh and blood human beings in a world populated by angry stereotypes.  Whoopi’s best moment comes during a heart-breaking monologue in which she tells the story of a past tragedy that explains exactly why getting drug pushers off the streets is so important.  It is a brilliant moment in the middle of a movie that really doesn’t deserve it.  She deserves better and so do you.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Comedy