Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Jerico and Charles S. Haas
John Goodman .... Lawrence Woolsey
Simon Fenton .... Gene Loomis
Omri Katz .... Stan
Lisa Jakub .... Sandra
Kellie Martin .... Sherry
James Villemaire .... Harvey Starkweather
It's 1962. Gene Loomis—looking like the official Doogie Howser M.D. body double—is the new kid in town, as he usually is thanks to his military father. Rather than make friends that he's going to have to say goodbye to before the year is out, Gene opts rather to obsess over horror movies, often dragging his young Howdy-Doodie of a brother along with him. Gene is more than excited when he hears that his favorite director, Lawrence Woolsey—the man responsible for The Eyes of Doctor Diablo—is coming to town for the premiere of his new movie, Mant (“Half man, half ant, ALL TERROR!”)
The Cuban Missile crisis suddenly rears its ugly head, and word gets round that Gene's father is in the Navy. Now all of his fellow high schoolers have questions for him—“Do you know what's going on over there? You have to! You live on base!”—and he finds a friend in Stan and perhaps something more in Sandra. Soon enough, Woolsey rolls into town—a wonderful cross between the hokey William Castle and the masterful Hitchcock. The kids, of course, are there for the Mant premiere and trouble breaks loose in the form of an angry juvenile delinquent (sporting a leather jacket, duck's ass haircut, and really bad poetry), a collapsing balcony, and a number of “False Apocalypses.” I hate to spoil the endings, but this time I have simply got to. Are you ready? Here goes:
The world…does not end.
Granted, Matinee is by no means a horror flick. It is a family-friendly picture and a com-dram combination whose key scenes just happen to take place at a horror movie. So why include it here? The lengthy clips from the fictional Mant (which are plentiful in the final third of the film) work as an excellent spoof/homage to the atomic paranoia and big-bug drive-in creature features that were so prevalent during that era. They were so well done, in fact, that had I not known better I would have believed that Mant was a genuine flick from a genuine director. Worth the price of rental alone.
Matinee is the type of film you probably would have enjoyed as a child, and if you did, you would probably still enjoy it today. Definitely geared towards a teenage audience, if you've got kids, bring this one home and make everyone happy. Until the bomb drops that is.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: horrible beatnik poetry; AtomoVision and RumbleRama; and am I crazy, or is that Shaun Hunter from Boy Meets World running around with Stan and company?
BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Omri Katz (stan) also starred in the TV series Eerie, Indiana
Matinee is not available through Netflix, which is a crime against humanity! It is currently ranked #82,645 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, or buy it today!
"Grown-ups are making it up as they go along, just like you."