AFTER HOURS lets those paralyzed by the mating game know that they’re not alone. It also tells you to you can’t win, which is fairly brave for a comedy, and it was even more bracing in 1985 when Martin Scorsese fiendishly dropped its hammer on us. It’s also… funny as hell. At least its fans think so: this is one of those uncomfortable black comedies that divide audiences. They love it or they’re turned off—Raising Arizona, Brazil, The War Of The Roses, God Bless America…..
‘Marty’s’ salvo, written by Joseph Minion, inspired by a monologue from radio performer Joe Frank (what urban love-hell they must have gone through–yeek), got great reviews but not such a big public response—it’s now a cult classic. ‘Paul’ (Griffin Dunne) meets ‘Marcy’ (Rosanna Arquette) at a dinner, gets her number, decides ‘what-the-hell?’–goes to meet her later that night. The New York City Survival Course he endures makes Charles Bronson’s Death Wish look like a skip through Bora Bora.
Marcy’s a little weird (Arquette is perfect), but then there’s her somewhat frank room-mate, ‘Kiki’ (Linda Fiorentino) and Kiki’s leather-dude, ‘Horst’ (Will Patton), Marcy’s temper-challenged boyfriend ‘Tom’ (John Heard), spacey waitress ‘Julie’ (Teri Garr), Mr.Softee driver ‘Gail’ (Catherine O’Hara)–and assorted denizens of Soho, the subway and the social-sexual subterranea grotesqua lurking beneath the sunny smiles of ReaganWorld.
All of the performers hit homers, but Dunne really bats a thousand with his increasingly desperate, yet still hopeful hero. It’s a masterful job, one of the best comic performances of Joe Everyguy since the heyday of Jack Lemmon. He was overlooked for a deserved Oscar nomination.
Direction is razor-edge, the camera work from Michael Ballhouse is vivid, the 97 minutes fly. With Verna Bloom, Cheech & Chong (brief, wisely under control), Bronson Pinchot, Dick Miller and some great ‘types’ in bit parts.