review for Night Shift on AllMovie

Night Shift (1982)
by Perry Seibert review

Young kids swear because doing something you are not supposed to do, something unexpected, usually provides a rush of freedom, the feeling that permeates Night Shift. Four of the brain trusts behind the genial situation comedy Happy Days, head writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, director Ron Howard and lead actor Henry Winkler declared their freedom from their past with this adult-themed comedy about morgue workers who become pimps. Winkler plays a character as far away from Fonzie as one could imagine, while the writers pepper the material with jokes they could never have dreamed of getting away with on the small screen. Winkler's character, who grows from a put-upon quiet "good" guy into an assertive man of action, feels like a symbol for the Happy Days alumni. Michael Keaton, in his first film role, is the spark of energy that allows them to break free; he is like the older kid at school who teaches the younger kids the dirty words. His explanation of the root meaning of "prostitution" is a great example of schoolyard comedy. As seemingly "adult" as this film pretends to be, it is at heart the work of nice young boys who are enjoying the rush of talking dirty. Mix this film's sense of freedom with Happy Days wholesomeness, and you have the best of Howard, Ganz, and Mandel's collaborations -- Parenthood.