- Movie Rating -

Jinxed! (1982)

| October 22, 1982

You know, I have a general good will toward most movies.  I consider myself to be a little more forgiving than the average critic for no other reason than I believe in being fair.  Yet, there are occasionally those pictures where I approach the third act and mutter involuntarily to myself, “Aw, come on.”  At those moments, I just want the movie to be over so I can get on with my day.

Jinxed! Is a movie like that.  It’s so strange, so scattershot, so badly made and arrives at a third act that was so bizarre that I sat there in stunned fascination.  It also achieves the impossible: It makes Bette Midler and Rip Torn boring.  That takes some doing.

Midler plays Bonita a struggling singer who is so vibrant and energetic on stage that you question why exactly that she is struggling.  She lives in a tiny motorhome with her boyfriend Harold (Torn) who is a compulsive gambler.  He’s a jerk who smokes cigars, sports an obnoxious cowboy hat and keeps Bonita in line by occasionally using her as a punching bag.  By the way, this is a comedy.

Lately, however, he’s been on a hot streak.  His solo game is blackjack and his luck seems to owe a lot to a certain blackjack dealer named Willie (Ken Wahl).  Seems that when Willie is running the table, Harold seems to win.  The casino bosses study Harold’s game and find no evidence of cheating, but the streak of being a Jinx keeps costing Willie his job.  So, Harold and Bonita keep moving around, finding the casino where Willie is working and making more and more money.  Finally, one of the casino managers clues Willie into the idea that the best way to break the jinx is to steal something from the jinxer.

Willie follows Harold around and, when he is out of town, wanders into their trailer and seduces Bonita.  She falls in love with him, he lets her in on his jinx problem, so she decides to fleece Harold out of his money by killing him.

I don’t really know how to describe the rest of the movie without giving too much away – not that it would matter, but let’s just say that the movie flies off the rails, goes in several directions and takes what seems like ten hours to get there.  There’s an unexpected death followed a long-labored body disposal scene, and then the most frustrating scavenger hunt that you’ve ever seen involving a vintage car, a peep show, a gold mine and an abandoned school house.  All of this while Midler whines about her damned cat.

I guess that I at least expected something with more zest, more zeal, more energy.  This movie is so low-impact that you’re waiting for the actors to fall asleep.  Midler, who has been so good in The Rose and in her concert film Divine Madness plays a character that is beneath her.  Bonita is so clinging, so whiney and yet so boisterous and energetic during her musical numbers – there are two here, including a fun version of “Papa Loves Mambo” that you wonder if she isn’t suffering a split personality.

With all the good will in the world, I wanted this movie to make some sort of sense.  There are ideas here at play that the screenplay seems too listless that I really did spend the last 45 minutes muttering to myself, “Aw, come on.”

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy