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Time After Time (1979)


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Okay, I'm Joe Bob Briggs, and speaking of kinky, what if you fell in love with a guy, slept with him, and then found out he was H.G. Wells and he traveled to your apartment in a time machine. Sure, we've seen the story before, but have we seen it with Malcolm McDowell wearing a tweed suit the entire movie? I think not. Of course, you know what I'm talking about. "Time After Time," the story of what would happen if Jack the Ripper escaped the London police by jumping into his friend H.G. Wells's time machine and zapping himself to modern-day San Francisco, where one more serial killer is NO BIG DEAL. Sounds like a comedy, right? But it's not. This is actually one of the strangest movies ever made, which is why I kinda like it. It came out in 1979 and has built a little bit of a cult audience. And I don't wanna tell you a lot more about it, except to say it's VERY well-written. It's written and directed by Nicholas Meyer, who did the same kinda movie when he made "The Seven Per Cent Solution," the one where Sigmund Freud meets Sherlock Holmes. He also did Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which we showed here a few weeks ago, and he wrote Fatal Attraction. Anyhow, let's take a look at those drive-in totals. We have:

Five dead bodies.
Cheesy time-travel effects.
Pedestrian flipping.
One motor vehicle chase.
Not a whole heck of a lot of numbers here, because it's one of those talky flicks.
Three and a half stars.
Check it out, and I'll be sittin right here the whole time. Kibbitzing. Okay, roll it.

[fading] What does kibbitzing mean anyhow? It's a Jewish thing, right? I didn't just say something disgusting, did I? I'm not gonna get a call Monday morning, "Why did you tell people you were kibbitzing during the commercials? That's outrageous. Keep your kibbitz where it belongs."

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #1

Well, who can resist this story? There are some stories that, even if you don't do em that great, just the IDEA of it makes you wanna watch it. And that's what we have here--the goofy Utopian writer and inventor trying to catch the cold-blooded killer. The eighteen- nineties contrasted with the nineteen-seventies. And Malcolm McDowell has got this character nailed, hasn't he? Just cornball enough to be charming. So what do you need now? Of course, what you need now is H.G. Wells being overwhelmed by the 20th century in funny ways. You KNEW those scenes were coming, right? Okay, roll it.

[fading] By the way, did you guys recognize Corey Feldman as the little kid in the museum? Right after all the 1970s time-travel effects? I liked how the effects were kinda similar to the ones in the first movie. Little homage. It's kinda cool watching these movies back to back. You'd think 20 years later they coulda come up with something better than that, but hey, I'm not complaining. Well, I guess I AM complaining.

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #2

Mary Steenburgen was cute in 1979, wasn't she? She had that charming bubblehead thing going for her. That dippy shop clerk number. Even though she's supposed to be a liberated woman and everything. Later on, she became a SERIOUS ACTRESS. Why do they all do that? I hate that. I'm actually liking this movie. Does that make me a nerd.

[fading] Of course, I AM a nerd. How else could you do this for a living? Sometimes the truth hurts.

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #3

Now that's good writing. When Jack the Ripper says to H.G. Wells, "The future is not what you thought--it's what I am!"--that's a great scene. Some good ole seventies America-bashing. It worked then, and it works now. You can occasionally do a movie about how everything's getting better, and, boy, won't things be wonderful in the 21st century. But 99 per cent of the time, the audience wants to hear how we're deteriorating, dying, becoming more and more MISERABLE with each passing year. We LOVE that, don't we? It's making me giddy just thinkin about how AWFUL things are and how much WORSE they're gonna be. And with every passing day, we're all gettin older and uglier. And the Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the skin on our faces and the very molecules that make up our bodies are flaking away, falling apart, becoming a little pile of pus that will one day be cosmic ashes in a universe where the Earth doesn't exist anymore. . . . Okay. Well. Back to the movie!

[fading] Actually, there was one thing I thought of that the writer didn't. You know when the two of em are on the bridges, and David Warner doesn't know which way he should go? All he had to do was duck down, and Malcolm McDowell wouldn't have been able to see him, right? I know, you guys are just thinkin about your faces flaking away. Sorry about that. Sometimes that happens to me.

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #4

Movie's getting kinda talky, isn't it? Obviously Mary Steenburgen and Malcolm McDowell forgot Calvin Trillin's first rule of dining: Never eat in a restaurant that's more than 100 feet high and REVOLVES. And normally I would have a hard time believing that Mary was actually falling in love with Malcolm, EXCEPT that, while they were making this movie, the two of em DID fall in love, and they eventually got married. Just a little "Time After Time" trivia, to KILL some time, before we get back to the movie, right about NOW.

[fading] Didn't I see Mary on TV with Ted Danson of "Creepshow?" Isn't she married to Ted Danson now? Malcolm McDowell, Ted Danson. Malcolm, Ted. She traded in Malcolm for Ted. They charged the network about 8 zillion dollars so they could be in a sitcom together--"Ink," it was called--and it flopped harder than a fat lady doin a swan dive. I'm glad I wasn't standing next to THAT pool.

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #5

I think that's just about enough of the cutesy little scenes where H.G. Wells confronts the 20th century--you know, the movie theater where he dives under the seats, grinding up the spoon in the garbage disposal. I think we've pretty much mined that vein, you know what I mean? Lot of talkin goin on here. This is known, technically, as the part that drags in the middle. It's just about over--the middle part, that is--so hang in there. And I haven't even mentioned David Warner. Good job, right? Lookin' real greasy and demented. Okay, roll it.

[fading] You know who's in this movie? Shelley Hack. As one of the women who works in the museum. I didn't notice her, did you? Maybe she hasn't been on yet. Shelley Hack, standin there like an extra. Why are we fascinated by stuff like that? Because it shows they SUFFERED. We like that, right?

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #6

You know the great thing about this movie? It's about H.G. Wells, right? And H.G. Wells is one of those guys, you pick up his books at a second-hand bookstore, you read about 30 pages and then you think, "I'll get back to this later. I need to clip my toenails." The guy was just NOT a brilliant prose stylist, you know? I'm gonna get mail here, aren't I? SOMINEX. The man was boring. I would rather watch this movie ABOUT H.G. Wells than read H.G. Wells. You know how I told all about the book during the first movie? Well, you can thank me for saving you the effort. War of the Worlds--war of the EYELIDS. Roll film.

[fading] Or, maybe I'm just shallow.

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #7

I wonder if H.G. Wells really said that. "The first man to raise a fist is the man who's run out of ideas." SOUNDS like something he would say, right? Nobody in Hollywood would write that. Can't use it in a Schwarzenegger movie, right? I say it's authentic. We could actually look it up, I guess, but that would involve going and actually getting the encyclopedia down off the shelf. And I've already had three of these babies. So let's just continue with the flick. The Ripper is gonna kick Mary Steenburgen's butt right here, unless H.G. grows some gonads. Comprende? I thought so.

[fading] We should have more of these intellectual theme nights. It feels like, I don't know, like taking mushrooms or something. Very sixties.

"TIME AFTER TIME" Commercial Break #8

H.G. Wells, driving a Honda. Trying to save the life of the woman he loves. How much better does it get? You know something I never understood about time travel, though? Let's say you start in 1890 and you got to 1979, and you kill some people, and then you go back to 1890 and you live ten more years and you die in 1900. Then who killed those people? When you die, does that mean the people start living again, only it's ten years later? Or let's say the people in 1979 travel back to 1880 and kill him at the SAME time that he's travelling to 1979 and killing THEM. They cancel each other out, BUT they were not at home when they were killed. They were in the wrong century. They were killed, sort of like, on voice mail.

[fading] Are you guys following this? Time travel messes with your brain, you know? What if you go backwards in time and kill your mother? Would you be committing suicide? OR, if you traveled back to before you were born, but you were ALIVE as a sperm cell--what about that? You guys have no intellectual curiosity. I can't believe it.


All right, H.G. Wells and time travel--that was our theme for this evening. This was one of our theme nights. The crack TNT programming department, they LIVE for events like this. They say, "Hey, here's two movies on the SAME SUBJECT. Let's show em back-to- back. People will wanna see the same thing for FOUR HOURS!" So that's how we end up with "The Time Machine" followed by "Time After Time."

Okay, I wanna remind you that next week we got the American version of "La Femme Nikita," "Point of No Return," with Bridget Fonda as a sexy hit woman, and "The Hand," directed by Oliver Stone before he got all political on us.

That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that a clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Did you guys hear the one about Bud and Jim, a couple of drinking buddies who work as airplane mechanics in Atlanta? One day the airport is fogged in and they're stuck in the hangar with nothing to do. Bud says, "Man, I wish we had something to drink!" Jim says, "Me too. You know, I've heard you can drink jet fuel and get a buzz. You wanna try it?" So they pour themselves a couple of glasses of high octane hooch and get completely smashed. The next morning Bud wakes up and is surprised at how good he feels. In fact, he feels GREAT. NO hangover. No bad side effects. Nothing. Then the phone rings--it's Jim. Jim says, "Hey, how do you feel this morning?" Bud says, "I feel great, how about you?" Jim says, "I feel great, too. You don't have a hangover?" Bud says, "No, that jet fuel is great stuff--no hangover, nothing. We oughta do this more often." Jim says, "Yeah, well, there's just one thing." Bud says, "What's that?" Jim says, "Have you passed gas yet?" Bud says no. Jim says, "Well, DON'T, cause I'm in PHOENIX!"

Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.

[fading] A drunk is driving through the city and his car is weaving all over the road. An Irish cop pulls him over. The cop says to the driver, "So, where have you been?" Drunk says, "I've been to the pub." Cop says, "Well, it looks like you've had quite a few." Drunk says, "I did all right." Cop says, "Did you know that a few intersections back, your wife fell out of the car?" Drunk says, "Oh, thank goodness. For a minute there, I thought I'd gone deaf."

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