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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All icing, no cake

Guess what? There was lots of coke in the 1980s. No, really?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

It's past time the legions of millennial babies who merrily don neon headbands and legwarmers and dance away to a-ha and Depeche Mode at ubiquitous "'80s nights," learned how truly wretched the Reagan years really could be. Exhibit one is The Informers, a film that dreadfully (or flawlessly) apes the artistic and moral bankruptcy of the besotted decade that produced not literary titans but twerps like Bret Easton Ellis. Sure, on paper Ellis glides over the era's shiny surfaces with cool disdain, but on screen the closest thing to a point mustered in this existential morass is that the good times are bound to end soon and you should really stop and smell the roses, provided that your nostrils aren't clogged with blow.

Based on an Ellis short story collection, the film follows a large number of depraved pretty young things doing awful stuff to each other in 1983 Los Angeles, all very loosely orbiting a pair of concerts by a cultish new wave rock band called the Informers.

Watching these scaly lizard people bake in the sun has the desensitizing effect of a slow morphine drip, but minus the high. The cast's stuffed with vet actors who've seen better days, like Billy Bob Thornton, Winona Ryder, Kim Basinger. And there's Mickey Rourke, who's determined to throw away newfound goodwill by playing a scummy kidnapper cruising in a rusty rapist van.

The main focus however is on the flavorless Jon Foster and John From Cincinnati's Austin Nichols as a pair of blond-frosted twits who spend their days doing drugs, making music videos and passing around the same skank. These types of creeps are the reason people started hating L.A. in the first place. There are some bright spots: Chris Isaak is amusing as a boozy dad on the make for Midwestern tourist gals in Hawaii, and it's a kick to see the swoony star of fashion-layout-style videos in a movie that spoofs them.

At least the movie looks nice, Winona Ryder's anchorwoman hair is perfect, and the costume department seemingly bought skinny ties and black Ray Bans in bulk, but saved money by letting the gorgeous Amber Herd parade around in the buff most of the time. It is well shot and at times intriguing, but director Gregor Jordan can't make us really care about anyone, and the film's about as shallow as a coke spoon.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to


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