Urban Cinefile
"I'll never forget the torment of waking up in the middle of the night sweating, and I'd wake up Alec and say, 'we can pull out of this right now' - "  -Kim Basinger on location to shoot I Dreamed of Africa
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



As a data entry person for a large bank, Terry Doolittle (Whoopi Goldberg) gets a little bored with her job and uses company time to communicate with clients all over the world, swapping recipes and helping with their love lives. One day, Terry receives an encrypted message from a stranger who calls himself Jumpin' Jack Flash, and after breaking the code, she learns that 'Jack' is actually a member of British Intelligence who is trapped in Eastern Europe and is seeking extraction. Now caught up in something big, Terry finds herself neck-deep in the intelligence community, mixing it up with the C.I.A and the K.G.B., and trying to find a way to get Jack out.

Review by Craig Miller
Apart from all the things we typically associate with the 1980s - bad clothing, synthetic music, you know the stuff I'm talking about - Hollywood too had some big hair problems of its own at the time, mostly centred around sticking talented comic performers in clichéd, formulaic comedies.

Don't get me wrong, I know this exercise is still in practice, but a large portion of the mass-produced comedy offerings of the 80s had one major performer, the star, (invariably picked up from a popular comedy club in New York or LA), dumped with a B-grade script and little in the way of co-star support, and told to make a go of it - with many of them failing.

Jumpin' Jack Flash is just another in a long line of these formulaic comedies produced in the 80s for the 80s, and for the most part, it is neither fun nor exciting and I could count the number of times I laughed with one finger. (I say laughed, I mean wryly smiled).

The hit-and-miss comedy stylings of the Whoopster don't help matters either, with her character, Terry, a horribly inconsistent and sometimes vulgar creature, one minute sweetly imagining a life with her M.I.A. intelligence officer, while the next biting a man in the swim suit area and blurting out profanity and phrases that would make a sailor blush.

One thing this tired comedy has got going for it though is the cameos and bit parts. The amount of talent that appears throughout the film in nothing roles, including Jim Belushi, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Tracey Ullman, Jonathan Pryce and Michael McKean to name a few, is staggering, and it's fun to see just what these guys were up to before they made it. (I say fun, I mean a necessary exercise to keep your interest up throughout the film).

At best, this one's a time-waster, a film to watch late at night on TV when you can't sleep, or a film to watch to help you get to sleep. It's mostly what you'd expect from a genre piece of the time period - overplayed situational comedy on the big screen - and if you can remember it fondly don't go back, it's better left as a memory.

Published: July 8, 2004

Email this article

(US, 1986)

CAST: Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Collins, John Wood, Carol Kane, Annie Potts, Sara Botsford, Jeroen Krabbe

DIRECTOR: Penny Marshall

SCRIPT: David Franzoni, J.W. Melville, Patricia Irving & Chris Thompson

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.85:1, 16:9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 10, 2004

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020