97. A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon

As a child I spent many a nights roaming around Turtle’s Record Shop while my dad searched for obscure 45 records for his jukebox.  I vividly remember the poster for A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.  Something stuck out to me and drew me in.  Perhaps it was the mysterious eyes of River Phoenix glaring back at me, or the teenage girls who hoisted him triumphantly upon their shoulders.  They all looked like poster kids from the late 80’s…so I was quite jarred when seeing the film 2 decades later that it was set in the 60’s!

River Phoenix stars as Jimmy Reardon, a recent high school graduate wasting his summer away by hanging out with his friend Fred (Matthew Perry), secretly sleeping with Fred’s girlfriend (Ione Skye) and trying to get his girlfriend to give up her virginity.  As the summer is winding down, Jimmy’s oppressive father insists that he either attend business school or hit the proverbial road.  Desperate and unsure of his future, Jimmy talks his girlfriend into moving to Hawaii – but in one night manages to completely screw up his plans and second guesses everything including his future, his friends, and himself.

This film has all the elements to be a classic 80’s teenager-in-distress film with a promising cast and a familiar story.  What ruined the film for me was the title character and his selfish and masochistic approach towards life.  Never likable, borderline annoying, and rarely sympathetic; I never found myself rooting for things to work out with Jimmy.   With no redeeming qualities, I thought the lead character ruined any chances of this being a “good” film in my eyes.  Perhaps if River Phoenix had a different character to work with I believe I really would have enjoyed this film, as he definitely had great potential which was never fully realized.  For the curious, I would give another late 80’s teen “dramedy” a chance.

2.5 stars out of 5

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Categories: 100 Films

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