Days of Summer #10: Joel Schumacher’s “Falling Down” (1993)

dfensIn my book, there’s a distinct difference between “Summer Movies” and “Movies to Watch During Summer”, although they’re not mutually exclusive terms. While the term “Summer Movie” denotes a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster released during the months of May, June, July, or August, it is typically the case that these films have very little to do with the actual season. In this feature, I’ll be ranting and raving about my favorite “Movies to Watch During Summer”, to anybody who cares to listen.

D-Fens

“Falling Down” (1993, Dir: Joel Schumacher)

For my money, Falling Down has got to be one of the most underrated films of the 1990’s.

The action movie’s logical response to Do the Right Thing, the film is required viewing for fans of Michael Douglas, who gives the performance of his life as William Foster, an office drone who goes berserk on a hellishly hot summer day in Los Angeles. Sick of being stuck in traffic with a broken air conditioner, Foster abandons his car and takes his road rage into the big ugly city, lashing out at overpriced convenience stores, violent street gangs, and, of course, those assholes over at Whammy Burger.

In the wrong hands, Falling Down would be a tasteless fascist fantasy, but Joel Schumacher, working off an incendiary screenplay from actor Ebbe Roe Smith, hits the nail on the head here, straddling the line between black comedy and haunting character study.

And let’s talk about Michael Douglas. While the tastemakers of the time saw fit to shower the actor with awards and praise for his supporting role in Wall Street, he went completely ignored here. It’s a hell of a shame, as Douglas has never been better. In the wrong hands, a pencil-pusher antihero with an Uzi would come across as cartoonish, but the former Gordon Gekko injects the character with sly wit, a white-hot temper, and profound self-loathing.

With a solid supporting turn from Robert DuVall as the retirement-ready cop on Foster’s heels and perhaps the most memorable scene ever set in a fast food restaurant, you’ll definitely want to add Falling Down to your summer movie watch list.

 

Best Way to Watch: Indoors, with the AC blasting.

Best Paired with: An overpriced Coke and a sad-looking squashed hamburger.

Further Viewing: Still got the Schumacher bug? Your best bet is 1987’s The Lost Boys, which taught us that a vampire gang led by Kiefer Sutherland can really put a damper on your summer in Santa Cruz Carla.

 

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