Sunday, March 2, 2014
Marshall Brickman’s Simon is a funny film.
That the film works as well as it does has less to do with the script by the one time Woody Allen co-writer than the cast which is headed by Alan Arkin and has people like Austin Pendtleton and Wallace Shawn in support.
The plot of the film has a group of too intelligent for their own good scientists at a think tank deciding to brain wash someone into thinking they are an alien. They then trick a psychologist played by Alan Arkin into thinking he is smart enough to join them. Once he is in their clutches they use brainwashing techniques and convince him he’s an alien. This then spins off into unexpected directions as Simon begins to become a guru.
I fell in love with this film way back when because of Arkin. The performance which combines verbal and physical comedy is one of the underrated performances of the 1980’s. There is a reason that most people remember the sequence when Arkin comes out of the isolation tank and goes through the history of man from the creation of the universe to the modern day and that’s because it’s brilliantly done.
This was also the point where I discovered many of the supporting actors such as Wallace Shawn,Austin Pendleton and Max Wright who would soon rise to prominence in other roles and in other ways. The quirky collection of faces, mannerisms and ticks are both hysterical and annoying, and make you want them to get their comeuppance.
Is this a great film?
Overall no, it’s not. While it is most certainly better than you think it is going to be, and while it most certainly has great moments, the film over all is just good. That’s no crime.