Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Stuff: Snacks that become one with you

The Stuff (1985)
Starring: Michael Moriarity, Andrea Marcovicci, Scott Bloom, Garrett Morris, and Paul Sorvino
Director: Larry Cohen
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

When industrial spy "Mo" Rotherford (Moriarity) is hired by the ice cream industry to discover the secet forumula for The Stuff, a new dessert food that's taking America by storm, he discovers it's bizarre parasite that first controls the minds of those who consume it, then consumes them. Together with the publicist who made The Stuff popular (Marcovicci), a cookie magnate who lost his company to The Stuff (Morris), a media tycoon and his militia of right-wing wackos (Sorvino) and a kid who became aware of the daner before anyone else (Bloom), Mo sets out to save a nation easily swayed by advertising and the promise of a calorie-free tasty snack from itself, as well as The Stuff.

"The Stuff" is a fast-paced sci-fi comedy that's presents spot-on satire of the instant-gratificiaton, marketing-sensitive American public and the image of industrial tycoons as people who are willing to do anything to make a buck. (One can even draw a direct parallel between The Stuff and cigarettes and other drugs if one chooses, because the film shows that even after it's shown to be outright deadly, there are still people who want it.)

The special effects are pretty impressive for the pre-CGI era, with the roiling waves of Stuff when it attacks our heroes toward the films climax and well-done miniature shots of exploding buildings and such. The film is also graced with a fine cast of actors who are given opportunities to shine thanks to some sharp dialogue, hilarious situations, and, according to the director's commentary on the DVD, some excellent on-the-spot improv'ing. (Michael Moriarity is particularly fun as Mo, a character whose disarming, Southern good-ole-boy mask hides a dangerous and coldhearted man who will stop at nothing to acheive goals set by his clients or himself.)

As I post this, it's exactly 25 years since "The Stuff" was first unleashed upon the world, and it has held up nicely to the passage of time. The film is as relevant today as it was when it was first released, which is a tiny bit sad, because, if anything, the American public has gotten more gullible and easily manipulated by ads and the promise of instant gratification than it was in 1985.

Check out "The Stuff", and you'll find yourself enjoying a certified sci-fi classic. It's the perfect addition to the line-up for a Movie Night... and it'll be even better if you serve bowls of vanilla yogurt to guests while watching it. (There are even a couple of unintentionally funny moments that the attententive viewer will be able to mock in addition to all the purposeful jokes.)

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