zenduck.me: Moving Rotten Tomatoes

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Now this is a prime example of one of those movies I saw in the videoshop, back when I was a kid, and simply wanted to watch it because of A. the amusing looking poster, and B. it starred Richard Pryor. That’s all it took back then, something to catch your eye on the top shelve. You had no idea if it would be any good but without the internet, movie magazines, or any TV shows about current movies, you took the chance (parents willing).

The plot is simple. As the title of the movie indicates, the plot surrounds a move. Arlo Pear (Richard Pryor) has just lost his job as a transportation engineer based in New Jersey. After some time he manages to snag a job with another engineering company in Boise, Idaho. Obviously this would require his family to up sticks and move across the country. At first, naturally, his family isn’t happy, but they soon agree. As you might have guessed the whole process becomes one disaster after another involving a shady moving company, their new home, their new neighbours, and the guy Arlo hires to drive his sexy Saab across the country to their new destination.

This is your typical 80’s [i]National Lampoon’s[/i] type affair, so much so you have expect to see a Chevy Chase cameo. The whole thing is very cliched and very predictable to be honest. Take a look at the various characters, Randy Quaid’s characters for instance. Without even typing any further I’ll bet you’d know exactly what type of character Quaid plays, and you’d be right. In the New Jersey setting he plays a crazy shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who is impossible to live next door to. In the Idaho setting he plays the twin of this character who is also a crazy (mostly anti-social) person who is impossible to live next door to. So yeah, Quaid kinda does his usual thing which wasn’t that far off his Cousin Eddie character from the [i]National Lampoon’s[/i] franchise.

The moving company is (of course) represented as a bunch of criminal types that, for some reason, Arlo is unable to get rid of. Arlo turns them away on first impressions but when he goes to another company the same guys turn up! Anyone with sense would just keep looking but Arlo goes with them. The movers themselves are obviously completely over the top with their dodgy appearances and behaviour, King Kong Bundy being one of the most outrageous. Then you have the innocent and apparently squeaky clean Brad (Dana Carvey) who Arlo hires to drive his precious Saab across the country. Naturally he turns out to have a personality disorder and wrecks the car. It’s all pretty straight forward stuff.

Everything here is ramped up to ridiculous degrees for obvious comedic effect. So much so that it kinda seems a little too daft to be honest. This is why movies like ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ are so good because they are funny and very relatable. Most could probably recall a time when something similar did happen on a journey, or when you met an odd person as in the film. But this movie goes too far, it gets too stupid. Randy Quaid’s characters are amusing and probably the most realistic if you are very unfortunate, but the whole dodgy moving company and Dana Carvey character are beyond silly really.

Add to that the various daft occurrences that befall Arlo besides these characters. The fact they buy this lovely house off an elderly couple only to find the place completely stripped of everything, right down to the actual stairs and doors, is amusing but insane. They even take the swimming pool leaving a big hole. Then you have this pretty lame (unwarranted) action sequence with Arlo chasing the moving vehicle on the highway which is so obviously done at a slow speed with obvious stunt doubles. Again it’s another silly moment that is unrelatable and looks silly and fake. And then right at the end Arlo manages to turn his new crazy neighbour around from his unsociable ways purely by scaring him with his large dog? Eh?? A bit of a convenient wrap for that entire saga. Apparently Quaid’s crazy twin character suddenly has newfound respect for Arlo…because he used his big dog on him?

Anyway the movie is clearly not supposed to be taken seriously and obviously a deliberately goofy affair. It’s a comedy vehicle for Pryor to flex his comedic muscles. Unfortunately this could have been so much better in my opinion. The idea is there but the execution is just sloppy and dumb. Sure it’s funny watching Arlo snap and get tough with everyone, but at the same time it’s just silly because it’s not really very realisitc (again I must refer back to that John Hughes classic). Granted the movie did succeed in making me feel uncomfortable and somewhat nervous as I watched Arlo’s life crumble, so there’s that. But overall I really feel this would have been better if it were more grounded with less lunacy. Great original poster though, really draws you in.