Stick (1985) / Drama-Action
MPAA Rated: R for language, drug content and violence
Running Time: 109 min.
Cast: Burt Reynolds, George Segal, Charles Durning, Candice Bergen, Castulo Guerra, Dar Robinson, Jose Perez, Tricia Leigh Fisher
Director: Burt Reynolds
Screenplay: Elmore Leonard, Joseph C. Stinson (based on the book by Elmore Leonard)
Review published May 2, 2006
Definition of "stick": long, wooden; can be used to hit you over the head repeatedly without mercy.
Review of Burt Reynolds' Stick: see the definition above.
Burt Reynolds gets in the director's chair for his fourth and final theatrically released film as a director, based on the book by Elmore Leonard, who also provided the original screenplay -- at least until it was injected with all of the usual "Burt-isms". For fans of Burt, this is amiable stuff, not nearly as bad as most of the films he'd made in the 1980s, but definitely not among his very best. It's a slow, talky piece, with a couple of memorable action moments, but with spotty acting, weird make-up, poor cast chemistry, and an ever-increasing sense of goofiness, this is far from the kind of movie that could have thrust Burt back into the limelight as a movie star again. If Stroker Ace was the beginning of Burt's slide into irrelevancy, with Stick, he was stuck.
Reynolds (Cannonball Run II, Smokey and the Bandit II) plays Ernest 'Stick' Stickley, an ex-con recently released in the city of Miami who soon finds himself back in the thick of trouble when helping out an old friend in a drug deal gone bad. His friend is dead, but Stick escapes, except now the ruthless drug dealer wants him out of the picture permanently. Biding his time working as a chauffer for a rich entertainment magnate, Stick is out to get revenge for the culprits before they do any more damage to him or his teenage daughter.
Reportedly, Stick suffers from some studio meddling, including some re-shoots to inject a bit more action, new scoring, and delays in its release date. While there is certainly enough blame to go around in why the film doesn't work, from the original footage that we do see, there really isn't much to indicate that a truly good movie would have been produced.
This is an interesting cast to be sure, but curiously, they don't seem to work very well together in this film. Reynolds re-teams with his Starting Over co-star, Candice Bergen (Miss Congeniality, Sweet Home Alabama), although they exhibit no romantic chemistry together in this one. In fact, Bergen looks like she is in pain in most scenes, probably wishing she could be in a different movie altogether.
The costumes and make-up are fairly goofy, with Charles Durning's (To Be or Not to Be, Two of a Kind) bad wig and ugly attire the worst of the examples, although the oddly Western look of many of Miami's residents certainly doesn't help. As far as the albino cowboy villain -- well, let's just say he'd probably never make it far in that ridiculous get-up in the real criminal underworld. And Burt Reynolds in a pink Members Only jacket is the "cool" look for him??
Stick has a few decent moments, such as the final big stunt and the usual Burt Reynolds sense of lackadaisical amiability, but all in all, the mix of humor and action is off by a bit, never really settling down into a groove at any point. Bland dialogue, horrible wardrobe, uninspired scoring, and unintentional camp bog this one down into the realm of sub-standard fare that only a true blue Reynolds fan might come away enjoying. It's the worst thing an action-thriller could ever be: boring.
©2006 Vince Leo