- Movie Rating -

The Man With One Red Shoe (1985)

| July 19, 1985

I saw The Man With One Red Shoe on a Tuesday night with a friend of mine, seated in a packed out that was offering the movie as an advanced screening – the kind of event where they hand out comment cards after the film.  For a movie this bad, you need a tough skin before do something like that.  Out of the 200 people that were in attendance I think there may have been three laughs, one from my friend who liked a reaction shot from Jim Belushi.  The rest of the time there was uncomfortable silence save for somebody who coughed.  I sensed that the small smattering of laughter was out of desperation.

This movie is such a passive experience that you’re not sure how to react to it.  There is nothing to laugh at, there’s nothing to be engaged in, and so you sit there watching otherwise talented people flailing madly through material that really should have gone back to the drawing board.

The movie is based on a 1972 French comedy The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe about an ordinary schmo, a hapless orchestra player who is mistaken for a spy by two sides of rival factions of the French Secret Service.  Here it is the CIA where one side wants to find an innocent bystander and tail him as a spy while the other side follows him around as if he really were a spy.  I could imagine ways in which this stupid plot could be done well, but there are so many characters and so many scenes of people falling over themselves, out of cars and out of windows that you quickly realize that no one wanted a smart comedy, they just wanted things happening on the screen.

The guy is a problem too.  In the original, he was played by Pierre Richard as a goofball who looks like Larry Fine and acts like Jerry Lewis.  Alright.  But in the remake he’s played by Tom Hanks who has to play the role straight and since we already know that he’s not a spy, we sit there watching an ordinary guy go through his day while goofy characters, for no real reason, try and fail to keep up with him.

The movie marches along like this because the producers have missed what made the French film work.  There was comic tone that hung over the entire film, a sense of comic madness that set the plot in motion.  Here we’re in the real world following a guy from the real world and so all comic possibilities are so lost that even wonderful actors like Charles Durning, Dabney Coleman, Carrie Fisher, Edward Herrmann, Gerritt Graham, Jim Belushi and David Ogden Stiers are bumble around hoping that something will land.

That’s the problem here.  There’s no build-up, no sense of construction with the comedy.  The movie is based on the wane hope that if enough people fall through windows and out of cars that something will stick.  There needs to be characters, situations, ideas, build up.  You can just have someone fall down and call it a comedy.  You have to do the work.  This movie definitely does not.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy