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  Vibes Are You Receiving Me?
Year: 1988
Director: Ken Kwapis
Stars: Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Goldblum, Peter Falk, Julian Sands, Michael Lerner, Googy Gress, Ronald G. Joseph, Elizabeth Peña, Ramon Bieri, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Balgobin, John Kapelos, Ray Stoddard, Harvey J. Goldberg, Park Overall, Van Dyke Parks, Max Perlich
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Out in the mountains of Ecuador there is rumour of a fortune in gold to be discovered by someone with the right knowledge of the area, but there may be more to it. Could there be a long-dormant power to be tapped in an isolated region? There could, but the trouble is nobody knows how to get to it - that is until today when three explorers working on specialised information reach a ruin hidden by clouds and climb their way to the summit of a hill it is sat upon. There they find a pyramid which is illuminated from within, yet when they touch it they are filled with its mighty power which leaves only one of the party, Burt Wilder (Michael Lerner) alive...

With a film like Vibes, a complete flop from the late eighties designed to cash in on the same audience who flocked to see Romancing the Stone a few years earlier, it's perhaps an inevitability that it will generate a cult following, and so it is here. It was slated on its release by most of those who saw it as a fairly dumb comedy without an ounce of sense in its head, and without a real appeal in the casting to give it a boost, it's little wonder the production slipped away from the public consciousness in a manner that suggested it was never really present in it. Yet for all its relentlessly determined quirkiness, there's always going to be someone, a minority but someone nevertheless, who responds to that warmly.

Certainly the leading actors were a strange pairing, playing a couple of psychics who get embroiled with those pyramid power shenanigans, and they never made another film together (apparently because they didn't get on). Step forward Jeff Goldblum, by then an established star character actor whose offbeat charms were building up a definite fanbase, as one half of that couple, fair enough for him to play a clairvoyant was not too much of an ask, but the co-star was an untried pop singer who was just coming off her biggest hit records and the only reason she was cast was for what looked to be novelty value. Introducing Cyndi Lauper to fill the role of the romantic partner of a man who appeared less than attracted to her, and indeed you would never have put these two together in a million years.

You can sort of see the logic, in that Goldblum had his eccentric qualities and Lauper had hers, so in movie executive speak (this was one of the efforts David Puttnam assembled during his brief but disastrous running of Columbia) that meant screen sparkles, though in actual fact anyone could see why these two would never click. Goldblum towered over Lauper, in spite of the hairdresser piling Cyndi's crowning glory atop her head in an attempt to make her look taller, so physically the match was more Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy than Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, and the lack of chemistry was patent for all too see, leaving the cast reliant on silly dialogue courtesy of seasoned scribes Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel which made this more cartoonish than credible.

Fair enough, Lauper did have a quality of cartoon about her with her squeaky chirp and strong accent married to an endearingly plain speaking yet quirky personality, so maybe her casting was not entirely outrageous, but in support Peter Falk, whose conman Harry brings the couple to a very drab-looking Ecuador, seemed to be acting in a different film completely, and the rest of the odd cast's scenes were more sketches than a properly flowing narrative. With a cavalier attitude to killing off its characters and special effects promising more than they delivered, what should have been as colourful as Cyndi came across as rather grey and forced to be wacky rather than having its goofiness arise naturally, and yet, every so often the project it could have been, and possibly was the way it was imagined, would peek through and raise a laugh, or have you think, yeah, be more like that. Those moments were too few and far between, but if you prefer to give relentlessly daft movies a fighting chance, you would likely be better disposed towards Vibes. Music by James Horner (Cyndi sang the theme).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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