The Devil is a role that seems to be a coveted one among actors. I mean just look at some of the stars who have played the prince of darkness himself: Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, George Burns (he played God, too)…and you can’t forget the sexy devils like Elizabeth Hurley and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Definitely not a sexy devil was James Coco, who played the Devil in his final film…1987’s “Hunk.”
The film tells the story of awkward computer programmer Bradley Brinkman (Steve Levitt). He’s struggling at his job, but after he creates a hugely successful program his life starts to change. HIs boss (Avery Schreiber) gives him the summer off, with pay, to come up with an even bigger follow-up. Bradley ends up renting dilapidated beach house for the summer.
His attempts at fitting in with the rich beach crowd are unsuccessful. Only the strange Chachka (Cynthia Szigeti) seems to have any interest in him. But one night he meets his dream woman, O’Brien (Deborah Shelton). As it turns out, she works for the Devil (Coco) and is here to offer Bradley the life he’s always wanted…in exchange for his soul, of course.
Long story short, Bradley signs a contract for a trial period and wakes up the next morning as a buff blonde manly man (John Allen Nelson). His driver’s licence bears the incredibly believable name (sarcasm alert) of “Hunk Golden.”
Well, Hunk soon becomes the most popular guy on the beach. He’s hosting big parties, landing the hottest women, and inspiring others to copy his unique style (sleeveless jacket, unbuttoned to show his smooth chest, and a necktie). All is going well but Bradley…uh, Hunk seeks out help from a psychiatrist, Dr. Sunny Graves (Rebecca Bush). She doesn’t believe his story but is intrigued by him. But things start to turn sour when “Dr. D” himself shows up and tells Hunk all about his future serving the Devil.
Sunny continues to try and help Hunk come to terms with all this and the two begin to become involved romantically. But, we soon learn that Sunny isn’t who she seems to be. Now, will Hunk ever become Bradley again and find true happiness?
We’ve seen this sort of premise in tons of movies. The main character dreams of a better life, and is somehow granted it, but soon learns they had it better off before. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. In “Hunk” it most definitely doesn’t. The big flaw is that there isn’t a convincing transition between Bradley and Hunk. One day he’s geeky and the next he’s studly. After the transformation, Hunk doesn’t go through any of the awkwardness that we expect…and which would create some much funnier situations.
With the advancements in special effects we now have, this premise could work better today. I kept picturing the effects used to make Chris Evans appear scrawny at the beginning of “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Had that technology existed in 87, so that the same actor could play both Bradley and Hunk, the film might have worked better. They are the same character in different forms, yet there is nothing that joins Steve Levitt and John Allen Nelson’s performances.
In the great list of 80’s comedies, “Hunk” ranks pretty low. If anyone sold their soul to the Devil to get this thing made, I think they could make a strong case for a refund.