Film Reviews

After Hours: An Underrated Dark Comedy from the 80’s

Man sits in cafe worried with a dissolve with him running in his hair.

Before I start the review, I heard of this movie way before The Weekend’s new album or the short lived Cracked web series.

This was a dark comedy from the 1980s of a man going on a date with this mysterious woman from a cafe and to buy paper mache paperweights. This was a rare comedy of Martin Scorsese that hard to find within his vast career of directing crime dramas and historical pieces, acting roles, and speaking roles in documentaries. He directed this comedy about a series of unfortunate events and misunderstandings. The film is not slapstick but it is funny by the way the characters interact with each other.

Screenshot of Paul reading a novel at a cafe.

Paul Hackett, a word processor from big undisclosed business in Manhattan feels restless at night and decides to go out to burn up time at a cafe with a novel. He met a mysterious woman who he completely hits it off with. She tells him that she has a friend willing to sell paper mache paperweights for a small fee for the next day. Paul willing to know this woman closer decides to go on a date with her and pick up the paperweights on the other side of town in SoHo after 11 pm.

This part is explained very vague on purpose to finish the explanation and not be too descriptive. But after the date is a bust and he has no money to go home, Paul must think of a way to just go home.

Without spoiling a lot of the plot which the original theatrical trailer did I’ll end it here. A lot of the humour is within the twists and turns the lead character goes through. If you never hear of this film and just watched it now, the film will feel funnier without knowing all of the unexpected changes.

The film has a lot of references to burn victims. This is played like a phobia that Paul had since childhood after some surgery and apparently not following the nurse’s advice to keep his eyes shut.

Screenshot of Julie dancing to The Monkees entertaining Paul from the rain.
Screenshot of Julie dancing to The Monkees

The classical music at the beginning in the yuppie world offsets the retro and punk music throughout the film. The contrast of this elitist music playing against 60’s R&B and experimental leather punk music just gives more insight into the character’s state of being and atmosphere. Especially being chased by a Mr. Softy Ice Cream truck. Also, just another film that shows off Martin Scorsese’s music choices in the film while not being reliant on any Rolling Stones tracks. It’s a little strange to realize that.

The camera shots in the film were very much like Scorsese’s style like the intense tight camera shots of keys falling, wrap-around shots of the characters and the quick edits of scenes that sped up pacing in some scenes. It works to build up the intention Paul feels.

This film also is a part of the 80’s and early 90’s trend of yuppies in peril motif in film. Films like this one, Weekend at Bernie’s, Fatal Attraction and Cape Fear have an angry narcissist jerk in a bad predicament that’s hard to get out of easily. Their downfall is usually at their own hands by thinking that they are ahead of the game when they are not and only thinking about what is happening to themselves disregarding the world around them. Like, they’re the only ones with problems – first world problems. The only omission to be a yuppie in peril movie would be the lack of the over the top violent death of a character.

Screenshot of Tom the Bartender at the bar talking to Paul.
Screenshot of Tom the Bartender talking to Paul

So to bring this back to After Hours, this also makes every interaction Paul has with everyone in the film funny when they are just being nice in their own way and while he’s increasingly irritated. For instance, the interaction with Tom the Bartender throughout the film shows the major difference of temperament. And this makes almost every interaction in the film turn on him in some funny yet villainous way.

Screenshot of Paul using Gail's phone in her apartment.
Screenshot of Paul using Gail’s phone in her apartment

I usually include the trailer of the movie below but after reviewing the only trailer of the film available it gave way too much of the plot away. Like the whole movie. Therefore, I included the poster of the film instead. This is available on YouTube/Google Play for purchase. After Hours wasn’t marketed well when I look at the media they used to advertise it. But when it’s known as a Martin Scorsese film that sandwiched between Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Goodfellas, Cape Fear and Casino. Through time it sadly became an underrated comedy.

Genre: Comedy
Year: 1985
Duration: 97 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Five out of five stars

All screenshots are from the film

2 comments on “After Hours: An Underrated Dark Comedy from the 80’s

  1. I’ve not heard of this film. Sounds like one I’ll like – thanks for recommending!


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