Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)

Genres - Comedy, Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Action Comedy, Comedy Thriller, Spy Comedy  |   Release Date - Oct 10, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Of all the misguided attempts to win viewer confidence by naming a film after a popular song, Jumpin' Jack Flash seems one of the most awkwardly shoehorned. This would-be action-comedy is far short of a "gas gas gas," that's for certain. Flash kicked off a series of interchangeable, ill-conceived comic/suspense vehicles (Burglar, Fatal Beauty) for comedienne Whoopi Goldberg after her remarkable dramatic debut in The Color Purple. Her sharp line deliveries occasionally score, but the script isn't equal to her obvious intelligence level. Her slapstick physical comedy feels broad and uncomfortable, and the intrigue plot gets too complicated to keep track of itself. Jumpin' Jack Flash wastes talent behind the camera, too, with no less than Penny Marshall directing, Jan de Bont serving as cinematographer, and Joel Silver producing. The fault clearly lies in the writing, which plays exactly like one would expect from a tug-of-war between five collaborators. After all, Marshall did a complete about-face with Big, her follow-up to this rocky debut; de Bont shot Die Hard soon after; and Silver returned to triumphant form with Lethal Weapon. While Goldberg still had a few more stumbles to endure, she finally found comfort in a well-written supporting role better suited to her observant sarcasm, winning a richly deserved Oscar for Ghost.