Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sticky Fingers (1988)

Directed by Catlin Adams
Staring Helen Slater, Melanie Mayron, Eileen Brennan, Carol Kane
Rated PG-13

"Do you have any donuts?"
"Tofu donuts."

Written, produced and directed by women - a rarity even now, never mind the 80's - Sticky Fingers is a quirky girl-buddy comedy/crime caper set in New York, filled with eccentric characters and shot with manic, screwball verve. Hattie (Helen Slater) and Lolly (Melanie Mayron) are a couple of down-on-their-luck classical music buskers with big piles of 80's hair that live in a run-down apartment building run by cranky landlady Stella (Eileen Brennan) and her sister, lady-super Kitty (Carol Kane). One fateful afternoon they get a visit from their weed dealer, Diane (Loretta Devine), who stashes a bag full of cash in their closet. When they discover it, they freak out and try to return it. Unfortunately, they can't find her. Also unfortunately, Stella just slapped them with an eviction notice. So they dip into the cash. And then they get robbed. The dirty robbers steal their instruments, but not the money. So they dip into the cash again, and buy a new cello and violin for $90,000. Since they're on a roll, they decide to pick up some other essentials, too: high end stereo and TV equipment, expensive  perfume, and designer clothes. They quickly burn through $200,000 before Diane calls, telling the girls she'll be home by the weekend and she'll pick up her bag when she gets there.

Well, only one thing to do: go to Chinatown and try and gamble the money back. Amazingly enough, they win all their money back. Not so amazingly, they get robbed five minutes later. Luckily for them, Diane gets arrested. Not so luckily, they lose the rest of the money when Lottie leaves it on the hood of a cab. That's around the time the gangsters show up to retrieve their dough. And when the cops show up to retrieve the gangsters. Things get pretty nuts from there.

Sticky Fingers boasts lots of fun cringe-com moments, great chemistry between the leads, a sweet romantic sub-sub plot for Carol Kane (adorkable as always - she's the proto-Zooey!), and frequently jaw-dropping fashions. Sadly forgotten and relegated to a patchy VHS release in the late 80's, the film is nonetheless a quirky delight. Fans of similar urban 80's romps like Desperately Seeking Susan, Something Wild and After Hours, should seek it out. Hint: try Netflix.

- Ken McIntyre 

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