I can’t stand the show Two and a Half Men. Let me just get that out from the beginning. It is just so unnecessarily crude. Watching it reminds me of the experience of riding the school bus in middle school seated near a classmate who has just discovered the existence of certain descriptive words for bodily functions and now uses them in every other sentence. All that having been said, I’ve always liked Jon Cryer. You know, the one who managed not to get kicked off the show. During his years as a fringe member of the Brat Pack, I felt Cryer was always one of the more believable actors when it came to conveying both the over-confidence and downright awkwardness of the average teenager. With all the talk about the revamped version of Cryer’s show recently, it got me thinking about one of Cryer’s teen comedies that could qualify as a “forgotten film,” 1987’s Hiding Out.
While Cryer was good at being believable, there is nothing believable about this storyline…and I’m OK with that. Cryer, with assistance from one of the worst fake beards in cinema history, plays Andrew Morenski, a Boston stockbroker in his late 20’s. It seems that Andrew and two other stockbrokers ended up unwittingly involved in a mobster’s money laundering scheme. Now, they are waiting for their opportunity to testify against him in court. But when one of the others ends up dead, Andrew ends up in an FBI safe house. After several weeks tucked away from the rest of the word, Andrew convinces the agents to allow him out briefly. The agents accompany him to a diner for breakfast, but so do a couple of hitmen. When all is said and done, one FBI agent is dead and Andrew is on the run. He boards a train and heads for the place no hitman would ever think to look…Delaware.
After shaving the beard, dying his hair partially blonde, and trading his suit for a T-shirt and a bum’s trench coat, he heads to the high school where his aunt works as the school nurse. While he waits, many of the people in the office mistake him for a teenager…so he hatches a plan to lay low as a high school student. He selects the name Maxwell Hauser from a nearby can of coffee, proving that Bryan Singer ripped off the famous twist ending of The Usual Suspects, and enters the world of high school again. The only one who knows Max’s secret is his cousin Patrick, played by Keith Coogan.
Rather than not drawing attention to himself, Max ends up the talk of the school when he confronts a teacher on her views regarding Richard Nixon. This prompts a group of students to launch a campaign to have Max elected class president, without his consent. He also catches the eye of a beautiful classmate, Ryan, played by Annabeth Gish (Full disclosure: major crush in 1987).Now, here’s where things get difficult. I mean…watching this in 1987, as a high school student, I couldn’t help but admire Max. He was a bit awkward (as was I) but he was popular with the other kids (definitely not me). Not to mention the fact that the most beautiful girl in school wants to go roller skating with him…but she’s 17! It’s never said exactly how old Max/Andrew is, but he does mention that he’s almost 30. So let’s say 27 or so. Now sure, in a few months she’s 18 and all is legal…but I’m thinking, no wonder I can’t get a date, 27 year old stockbrokers on the run from the mob are stealing all the girls!
Hiding Out is completely ridiculous as far as it’s premise goes, but it’s a fun movie. The likability of Cryer’s character is the main thing that carries it. The other characters definitely need some work. Gish’s dreamgirl character, beautfiul as she is, is not given much depth, Coogan as the cousin is a bit annoying, and Tim Quill, as the jealous jock ex-boyfriend, needs a healthy dose of Johnny Lawrence Cobra Kai to make him a more worthy 80’s teen villain.
Today, two songs from the film’s soundtrack are probably better remembered than the film itself…”Cryin’” by Roy Orbison & KD Lang and “Catch Me I’m Falling” by Pretty Poison…but Hiding Out is worth revisiting. Just leave your sense of reality in your locker.