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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Retro Review: Fatal Instinct (1993)

Fatal Instinct
Cast: Armand Assante, Sherilyn Fenn, Sean Young, Christopher McDonald, Earth Kitt, Rosie O' Donnell 
Genre: Erotic Thriller Comedy
Studio: MGM
U.S Lifetime Gross: $7,839, 327 

Plot: Ned Ravine is a police officer and lawyer who occasionally defends the delinquents he arrests. He crosses paths with a seductive femme fatale, Lola Cain during an assignment and promptly begins an affair with her. Meanwhile Ned's wife, Lana is deep in an affair of her own. Lana and her lover, Frank are planning to murder Ned in an elaborate fashion so they can collect on his triple indemnity life insurance policy 

'A Parody Of All Sorts on Erotic Thrillers'

Fatal Instinct is a parody movie that deserves to join the ranks of Naked Gun, Airplane, Hot Shots! and Scary Movie. It is a parody movie based on erotic thrillers, akin to Scary Movie is to horror films. The plot is complex but when you watch the film, the way it plays out is pretty straightforward. It also parodies Body Heat, Pretty Woman, Sleeping With The Enemy, Basic Instinct, Cape Fear. But for Pretty Woman, which is a romantic comedy, if you have seen or watched any of these psychological thriller movies, then you'd be aware that in all of these movies they often had such over-the-top melodramatic plots, one or more femme fatales and/or male serial killers, saxophone music playing in the background, and not forgetting the sex and violence. Fatal Extinct sends- up all of these conventions, or be it cliches and mocks them to make it clear to the audience how silly all of these things are and that we should laugh because of how frequently cliched they really are. 

Examples of gags in this movie include Sean Young's character, who is an obvious play on Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct with a Marilyn Monroe hairstyle, blowing smoke in the face of Armand Assante, the saxophone man appearing at a funfair and an office playing his sax and a Black man holding cue cards whilst Armand Assante's character offers a Miranda warning to a suspect he has just arrested. 

The plot in Fatal Instinct is as follows: a cop/attorney is seduced by a woman, whilst his wife is having an affair with a mechanic. 

It's silly too but a farce broad comedy that contains many subplots, visual gags and jokes reminiscent of Naked Gun. As an overall film, it just feels too predictable & cliched. Really, there is nothing that I haven't seen before when it comes to the style of gags and jokes (thus, it has a very playful look to it) and the delivery of those gags and jokes in Airplane and Naked Gun, who were the original pioneers of slapstick farce parody comedies. It is a parody where the reliance of gags is on the film knowing where the laughs are going to come from and that they build up, instead of hitting you over the head. Because of this, when the jokes came thick and fast, though I was laughing, I wasn't like laughing out loud; it wasn't by any means hysterical and neither it did it make me pee in my pants. I was like 'oh okay'. 

Take the silliness of Naked Gun, add shades of Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction and in Fatal Instinct, what we have is the parody comedy version of an erotic thriller - style film. If, however, you are not a fan of broad humour and comedy movies like Airplane and Naked Gun, then this movie will not be for you. 

Armand Assante plays the main detective, but I didn't really buy him as a cop and in this role: his performance, whilst it is dissimilar to Leslie Nielsen's, there is a solemn-ness to his approach that made me feel as if he wasn't quite cut out for this role. The other performances were good: Christopher McDonald was really good and his performance made me wonder at times that as good as he is as a supporting actor in a movie, why he didn't go onto more bigger and better projects, besides Flubber.

Whilst I get what the director and writer was trying to attempt by cobbling up all these ideas from different erotic thriller movies and tacking them to the comedy, the film stops being a thinking person's comedy movie funny when it tries to aim for the obvious gags, slapstick and jokes: when they become predictable and too cliched, that is when the joke begins to wear thin. I don't dislike parody comedy movies: if you're looking for a 'smart' parody -style comedy type of film, I'd suggest something like Bowfinger with Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy. But with the Naked Gun and Airplane formula, Fatal Instinct still achieves what it is set out to do. 

Fatal Instinct however still holds up well today, and one that should please fans of the Zucker bros movies. & even if you still have trouble buying into the comedic nature of it and your sense of humour is too enduring for one's tastes, you can approach Fatal Instinct as an offbeat thriller. 

Final Verdict:

This comedy isn't half-bad and though the performances by the cast are good (but for say Armand Assante), the film still works because of the delivery of the comedy and the jokes and gags, which are easy to understand and get. Especially with some of them referencing particular erotic thriller movies. Yet somehow, Fatal Instinct is just all too obvious and cliched, but perhaps that is also a good thing; if you loved Naked Gun and Hot Shots, then I think you will be a fan of this movie. It is a silly comedy that like with so many other comedy movies, shouldn't be taken seriously and to enjoy it for being nothing but sheer entertainment. 

This overlooked B-movie is worth giving a shot.


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