Who's That Girl
August 31st, 2014
Todd: Okay, ignoring whatever [brief clip of A Certain Sacrifice] the hell this was, Madonna has made two real movies at this point.
- Clips of...
Todd (VO): Shanghai Surprise sucked, but Desperately Seeking Susan kinda worked, right? And what was she in that? She was a crazy street girl screwing up some lame yuppie's life while a lot of people are looking for her, trying to kill her.
Todd: There. There's your movie.
- Clips of Who's That Girl
Todd (VO): Just make Madonna the main character and take out the boring parts and speed up the tempo so it's like a real comedy this time. There. Perfect. Golden. This is it.
Todd: This is the film that's going to make Madonna the multimedia superstar of the '80s. [Motions his mind exploding as...]
- Cinemadonna intro
- Movie begins with animated intro, featuring Madonna stepping out of Warner Bros. logo.
Todd (VO): Madonna's reputation as box office poison rests on five high-profile mega-bombs. Shanghai Surprise was the first, this is the second. In fact, 1987 was kind of a bad year all around for Madonna. [People cover: "Diary of a Mad Marriage"] Increasingly volatile marriage, [album cover for...] half-baked soundtrack that really hasn't held up well, and of course, there's the movie itself, which was one of the most notorious flops of 1987.
Todd: Allegedly, it was also gonna star Sean Penn, but [picture of the "happy" couple] after Shanghai Surprise, it was decided Madonna and Sean probably shouldn't work together again, or be married or talk to each other ever, but that came later.
Todd (VO): Okay, so once again, and I think for the last time, Madonna will be playing the zany, manic foil to some stick-up-the-ass rich guy, here played by human punching bag Griffin Dunne. The dynamic is pretty much identical to the old, old classic film [brief clip of...] Bringing Up Baby, right up to the dork glasses and the wild jungle cat; we'll get to it.
Todd: So...this is just a screwball comedy.
Todd (VO): It's not nearly as ambitious as some of Madonna's other well-known fiascoes. How did it become one of the most notorious bombs of a year that included [posters of...] Jaws: The Revenge, Leonard Part 6, and Ishtar? Well...
Todd: ...let me tell you. One of the joys of perusing my way through the Madonna filmography is that all of her movies seem to be bad in [posters of Desperately Seeking Susan (boring), Shanghai Surprise (stupid), and A Certain Sacrifice (error: 0x1a2434 Movie not found)] completely different ways, and Who's That Girl adds yet another flavor to the rainbow of badness—[poster of Who's That Girl stamped with...] obnoxious.
- Nikki Finn (Madonna): Oh, God!
Todd (VO): Who's That Girl is loud, fatuous nonsense, is Who's That Girl is. Like...you know, movies like...I don't know, [poster of...] 1941, which, you know, technically are comedies, but seem to think noise and screaming is the same thing as a joke? Well, that's what this movie is. It's just 90 minutes of screaming, babbling gibberish. The first time I watched it, it made absolutely no sense to me. I watched it a second time, and it made more sense, but it was still just a complete headache. And there's a lot of reasons why, but...
Todd: ...here's exhibit A.
- Nikki: Hello.
- I just...look at him.
- How can you talk to somebody at a time like this? [Todd just sighs] I spent four years of my life in the hole waiting for the chance to get out and clear my name, and I will know vengeance.
Todd (VO): You may notice that Madonna's interpretation of her character appears to be "about to break out a rendition of 'Santa Baby' at any moment."
Todd: Now you might ask, "wouldn't this get annoying really quickly?"
- Nikki: Why not? My bus doesn't leave for a half hour and I can't go back to Philly without any presents for my mom—she thinks I've been shopping.
Todd (VO): Ha ha ha, what are you talking about?
Todd: [imitating] What's wrong with the way she talks?
Todd (VO): Okay, so the plot is that Madonna is a convict wrongfully accused of murder, who is just getting paroled at the beginning of the movie.
- Woman Parole Member (Alice Nunn): You are to report immediately to your parole officer and every two weeks thereafter. Do you have any questions?
- Nikki: Yeah. You got any mascara?
Todd (VO): And some tweezers? Oh, I'm bad. Anyway, the plot is a little complicated, but the backstory is summed up in an opening animated sequence, which I probably should've paid more attention to.
Todd: Well anyway, here's a quick recap.
- Nikki: I was framed, Loudon. Johnny finds out about this big white-collar guy who's into a lot of bogus stuff. Then, Johnny puts it all in a safety deposit box and he gives me the key, see? Raoul stuffs the body in the trunk of my car, I don't know it's there, I take a red light, the cops stop me, and they find Johnny in a lot of pieces in the back of the car.
Todd: Got all that? Good, it doesn't matter.
Todd (VO): Anyway, Griffin Dunne is a lame tax attorney about to get married, but first he has to take Madonna to the bus station at the behest of his boss, who is also his future father-in-law.
- Simon Worthington (John McMartin): I was thrilled when you and Wendy decided to get engaged. You know that?
- Loudon (Griffin Dunne): Sir, you set my desk on fire.
Todd (VO): And he also has to bring a wild cougar to the house of some other rich guy.
- Loudon: Shit! This thing ate Mr. Bell's cat?!
- Shipping Clerk (Gary Basaraba): No, Einstein, that is the cat.
Todd (VO): Okay, the first one happens because the dad-in-law is actually the bad guy, Madonna has some dirt on him, and he wants to make sure she's out of the picture. The second one happens because, who the hell knows?
- A bike messenger peeks into the cage, the cougar growls, and the messenger hauls ass.
Ha ha ha, sped-up footage to indicate comical speed has been funny a grand total of zero times in history, but...no, no, I think...
Todd: ...finally we'll get it right this time.
Todd (VO): Anyway, he picks her up, and because she's wacky, she's about to turn his life upside-down.
- Nikki punches a cop
Todd: LOL, how zany.
- Nikki: Tricks!
- [Nikki backs the car into another and drives off]
- Loudon: Oh, my God, you robbed that store!
Todd (VO): Okay, she's not a murderer, but she's clearly a psychotic danger to society.
Todd: Our hero.
Todd (VO): And she has this key to the evidence, and somehow they just let her carry it around the entire four years she's been in jail; I don't know how that works. But really, pointing out plotholes like that is a complete and utter waste of time because...
Todd: ...at some point, I realize none of this was supposed to make sense—it's a cartoon.
Todd (VO): It's more of a cartoon than the opening cartoon is a cartoon. They get attacked by pimp Lou Bega, and then the bad guys fall from a sixteenth floor window into the river.
- Loudon: We did one of your things already. We murdered the pimp and the fat man. Now it's time to do one of my things.
Todd (VO): Okay, that's kind of funny. What's not funny is when they show up later, still alive, covered in seaweed that they apparently didn't bother to remove. That's not funny, that's dumb. More importantly, it's a sign that nothing is gonna follow any rules or make any sense whatsoever, even a little, which would okay...
Todd: ...if it were funny, but...
- Nikki: Uh, knock knock.
- Co-op Board Chairwoman (Helen Lloyd Breed): Who's there?
- Nikki: Boo.
- Chairwoman: Boo who?
- Nikki: Don't cry! We'll take the apartment.
Todd: [beat except for crickets] Yeah.
Todd (VO): I can't tell you that every joke fails, but more than half I'd say are beyond witless. For example, there are these two cops that keep following them around, and...and they're clearly gay. I mean, they hint at it the entire movie. They're a gay couple.
- Detective Doyle (Drew Pillsbury): I picked up the wild rice with French morel mushrooms on a bed of radicchio lettuce, and there's a little dijon dressing on the side. I got that for you.
Todd (VO): But check out the payoff for this running joke. At the end of the movie, it turns out that these two gay cops are gay!
Todd: Ha ha! It's like...
Todd (VO): ...that classic SNL sketch, [picture of, instead of "ambiguously"...] "the Blatantly Gay Duo."
Todd: This is how jokes work, right?
Todd (VO): But it's more than just the bad jokes, it's that it's so goddamn annoying otherwise. Madonna goes to buy a gun, Griffin comes to find her, this happens? [The gun dealer shoots into the ceiling, leaving Loudon crawling on the floor] Why did he start shooting? Who knows? No one can do anything in this movie without screaming, breaking something, shooting at someone, driving into something.
Look, the plot requires her to lose the key for a few scenes. How does that happen?
- Tiffany Salesman (Shelly Lipkin): Well, I see the clasp is broken. I can get this fixed.
- Nikki: Hey! Give me that key! [The startled salesman flings in into a box, which is promptly closed and taken away] I want that key! Give me that key!
Todd (VO): I didn't edit that. First it was all quiet, then random screaming. This is not screwball comedy, this is "mentally disordered in need of lithium" comedy. Here's just the movie in a nutshell. [Random clips of screaming] Yeah, the sad thing is that it's got its moments. Like, there are a few jokes I like in here, like the pre-nup Griffin Dunne has to sign.
- Sam: Everything I own—the cars, the houses, the business—someday none of it will be yours.
Todd (VO): Or when he finally gets the puma to the other rich guy's house.
- Montgomery Bell (John Mills): Excuse the mess. I recently lost Elwood, my housekeeper.
- Loudon: He quit?
- Montgomery: No, no, no. I lost him. I think he's in the west wing somewhere. Sometimes at night, I think I hear him crying.
Todd (VO): See, there's some jokes, but then he takes the cat up to his rooftop jungle habitat, and it has monkeys, birds, all sorts of animals which I assume the cougars will kill and eat at some point, and...
- [An Amazon Woman appears. Todd just can't figure it out.]
- Montgomery: Well, I've got to go. Make yourselves at home. [Montgomery takes her hand and goes off with her] Sorry, I'm late. I had some rather important guests.
Todd (VO): Oh yeah, and there's a love story here for God knows what reason. I guess Griffin Dunne is turned on by abuse, but you know, I can at least see what he likes in Madonna's manic pixie dream harpy. I mean, she is Madonna after all. But what in God's name does she see in him?
- Loudon: You and I are stuck together like glue, like Mutt and Jeff, Amos and Andy, Frick and Frack, Spic 'n Span, yin and yang, Arm & Hammer, pork and beans!
Todd (VO): I know it's not supposed to be some kind of grand romance or anything, but still, it's kinda like watching a love story starring [pasted pictures of...] Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny in drag. And then it all ends with a massive clusterfuck, as you do. The bridesmaids have been tied up for days, no one does anything, they have to fence to catch the bad guy, there's cake, whatever. The amount of complete bizarro world shit that happens in this movie is overwhelming and exhausting. And then they go off to live happily ever after, or at least until she eventually leaves him, puts on a clown outfit, and falls in love with the Joker.
Todd: For the record, because it's got pace and energy and an occasionally decent gag, this is...
Todd (VO): ...really not the worst Madonna movie ever. And I don't even think Madonna is all that bad in this. Turning yourself into a cartoon character is hard, and she pulled that off at least. But having your lead character be intentionally irritating and still be likable? Even if you're a comic genius, this is something you need everything working in perfect order to pull off.
Todd: And you're not gonna get that from the writer of [posters of...] Grease 2 and the director of such comedy masterpieces as Fear and Glengarry Glen Ross. Besides...
Todd (VO): ...Madonna isn't Cyndi Lauper. She's Madonna. She should be playing Madonna.
Todd: But after two back-to-back mega-bombs, Madonna wasn't quite ready to do that yet, so we won't be seeing one of the big disasters for a while. But that doesn't mean she won't have some minor disasters waiting for us in the meantime.
- [Trailer for Bloodhounds of Broadway]
- Hortense Hathaway (Madonna): I know a 24-hour chapel in Hackensack where you don't even need a blood test.
- Announcer: Madonna
- Hortense: You don't say.
- Announcer: Bloodhounds of Broadway. Tonight, the laughs are strictly on the house.
Closing tag song: Madonna - "Who's That Girl"
"Who's That Girl" is owned by Warner Bros.
This video is owned by me