For our next Crush-a-Thon entry we turn to the female perspective, courtesy of Lauren Humphries-Brooks. Lauren writes about movies over at Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out… and is also a frequent contributor at Man I Love Films. She says of herself, “I long to be a daring combination of Jack Kerouac, Charles Dickens and Hunter S. Thompson with the love life of Anais Nin, but for now I’ll settle for just getting a story or two published.”
Her crush: Jeff Goldblum
One of my first major crushes was on, of all people, Jeff Goldblum. Even more oddly, it was not inspired by his turn as the weirdly sexy Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park – although that’s a story in itself – but rather after I first caught a glimpse Goldblum in the bizarre, campy and wholly insane Earth Girls Are Easy. He starts out as a fuzzy alien who crash lands in Geena Davis’s backyard, along with his equally fuzzy friends (played by two very young up-and-comers named Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans). Davis is a hairdresser and so hits upon the brilliant idea of shaving the aliens of their multicoloured hair, only to discover that all three are really kinda … hot. Goldblum’s emergence from the tanning room, shirtless and sculpted, all but short-circuited my adolescent brain. He was tall, he was geeky, he was gorgeous. I wanted one for my very own.
My fascination with Goldblum only increased from there. Being a precocious girl, I made an effort to seek out every one of his films that I could get my hands on. This being in the days of VHS, it was difficult to locate many of Goldblum’s lesser known features. I had many resources and an obsessional streak that has never left me, so I eventually saw such gems as The Tall Guy, Beyond Therapy, Framed and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. His films up until Jurassic Park were almost uniformly strange and off-kilter, even if they were guided by some excellent directors like David Cronenberg and Robert Altman. Goldblum was almost always paired with women that were just as weird as him, from Emma Thompson and Julie Hagerty, to Kristen Scott Thomas and Geena Davis. But there were none quite so weird, I feel, as singing star Cyndi Lauper in the film Vibes.
Lauper and Goldblum appeared in 1988’s Romancing The Stone rip-off Vibes, about two psychics who head off to Ecuador to help a con-man find a lost Incan city of gold. Goldblum is Nick, a ‘psychometrist’ capable of touching an item and being able to psychically tell things about the person who handled it. He meets Sylvia Pickel (Lauper), a psychic with a spirit-guide named Louise and the most fabulous hairstyle ever known to man. Together they’re drafted by Harry Buscafusco (Peter Falk), who wants them to help him find his lost son in the mountains of Ecuador. It’s spoiling nothing to let you know that there’s no lost son; there is a lost Incan treasure, however.
The film picks up when we move from New York to Ecuador, where Goldblum and Lauper clash as every romantic comedy couple must. The pair’s inherent weirdness changes things up a bit. Rather than turning Nick and Sylvia into carbon copies of the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner characters in Romancing The Stone, they’re instead a pair of bickering nerds. Nick is obsessive, bringing his own water and freeze-dried food to the southern hemisphere, while Sylvia plays her Queens-vibe to the hilt, dressing in increasingly bizarre cotton-candy color combos and dispensing New York wisdom about life and love.
Backing up this odd pair are Peter Falk’s hilariously incompetent con-man and Googy Gress as a nasty fellow psychic. Julian Sands puts in an all-too-brief appearance as the researcher who introduces Nick and Sylvia. There are also some blink or you’ll miss them cameos from both Steve Buscemi and Elizabeth Pena, just to lend a further dose of weirdness to the whole proceedings. But it’s Falk who really rounds out the menage. Harry lies, and lies badly, all the way through, changing his story every time someone takes a moment to poke holes in it. Falk is not exactly straining himself as an actor here, but it’s fun to watch.
Vibes is not a classic. It’s not even a particularly good movie. The plot is weak, pulled from better films, and the tension never quite gets there. Goldblum has yet to perfect his dashing geek role, although he does turn into a more Jewish version of Indiana Jones nearing the end. There’s a requisite dance number, so popular in comic adventures in the 1980s, which pairs the 6’7” Goldblum with the diminutive Lauper and is good for a laugh. Lauper herself is not the best actress – she tries to pull a Madonna and fails. But she is amusing enough to watch, particularly when she dispenses some of her Queens-spun wisdom.
Watching Vibes again, I recalled why I found Goldblum such an attractive figure. He’s a geek, but he can dashing; he’s an odd romantic lead, yet he has charm and an adorable edge of sarcasm in even the most dangerous situations. He’s an interesting actor because he’s just a little goofy-looking – unlike Harrison Ford or Chris Evans, he’s not so beautiful as to be disbelieved, or unapproachable. He might get beefier, more sarcastic, even more attractive in films like Jurassic Park, but it’s hard not to have a weak spot for the gangly and goofy curator/crazy psychic in Vibes. So if you are in the mood for some strange 8os fun, and have exhausted all the usual suspects in the romantic-comedy-action genre, try Vibes. At the very least, it will be a new experience.