Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Screwball Comedy, Feminist Film  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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A classic Hollywood screwball comedy transposed to modern-day Manhattan, Desperately Seeking Susan offered mid-'80s moviegoers a mall-friendly version of hip New York style, much like Madonna did throughout her early musical career. Although it's often (and correctly) touted as the pop superstar's most successful big-screen performance, Desperately Seeking Susan is actually Rosanna Arquette's picture, and the pixie-cute actress acquits herself admirably as she portrays a bored homemaker who plays dress-up the same way thousands of preteen girls did during the real life Madonna "wannabe" years. Wearing the singer's thrift-store fashions, cavorting with SoHo scenesters, and playing a perky amnesiac without coming off too cutesy, Arquette is a virtual stand-in for the audience of middle Americans at whom the film is pitched. Director Susan Seidelman does fill her picture with actual underground personalities, but they're all at the periphery, from the Robert Smith types who fill the Danceteria to offbeat romantic leads Aidan Quinn and Robert Joy, who bring rough-edged charm to their proto-slacker characters. Laurie Metcalf has fun as Roberta's shrill, easily shocked sister-in-law, while Madonna expands her gamine music-video performance with wise-cracking self assurance and visual flair. Hardly a triumph for either its director or its singer-turned-actress co-star, Desperately Seeking Susan is, instead, a pleasant, vaguely feminist day trip from the New Jersey suburbs to the heart of the East Village.