No one buys DVDs anymore. (I don’t think. Do they?)
But I’ve been on the hunt for an elusive title. A little known movie from 1994 called The Chase starring Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson. You can’t get it anywhere except eBay, and that feels like cheating. So it’s the title I search for at yard sales in the boxes of DVDs nobody wants. In thrift shops and second-hand stores, it’s the title I try to find.
I never have. Yet.
The story of The Chase kind of confounds me. At its best it’s a tightly-written, scathing satire about the rise of the news-as-entertainment business, the militarization of the police and the propensity of human beings to believe terrible things about their fellow man. It can be biting, laugh-out-loud funny, and prescient. The height of its accomplishment is being sort of an effervescent but damning picture about class warfare, all set in a simpler time. A quintessentially Gen X film, it is suspicious of everyone and everything, which, 25 years later, it had damn good reason to be.
Where it falters is some uneven casting, some over-the-top acting, and maybe a difficult-to-swallow romantic twist that, while feeling sweet, does admittedly have all of the requisite hallmarks of a neckbeard fantasy.
But so what? I love this movie. So it’s not in the Criterion Collection. BFD. It’s fun as hell, is shot and cut in a way that highlights the action, and it has some of the best casting ever.
I know we can groan and roll our 2020 eyes about whatever Charlie Sheen became (I had to just check to make sure he was still alive — he is! Whew!). And we can shake our heads and look around in confusion at whatever the hell Kristy Swanson is now, but back then they were young and beautiful. They, like many of us, had their whole lives ahead of them. And one little thing fucked it all up.
You couldn’t get The Chase for a long time. That’s why I was looking for the DVD. It’s not even listed in Netflix. You can’t even find it if you have the disc mailing option. It’s not on JustWatch, a site/app entirely devoted to telling you where to find what you want to watch. It was nowhere. ‘Out of Print,’ whatever that means. With all the absolute tripe in Hollywood that is allowed to somehow live on, The Chase was somehow proscripted to die.
Until recently. When it popped up on Amazon Prime and I immediately watched it three times in one day.
Why? Because it’s the best movie ever? Well, kinda!
It’s just fun. It brings me back to a time when all of our mistrust was just speculation, and people older than us wondered why we were so goddamn suspicious. And since then, everything we were worried about has come to pass, and those same people who told us to simmer the fuck down get 100% of their information from Fox News, Facebook and Breitbart.
The Chase brings me back to a time of possibility. Sure, the premise is simple and several twists are 100% preposterous wish-fulfillment nonsense, but goddamn it, I miss having that kind of optimism. I miss the feeling of ‘anything could happen’ and not in the John Mulaney ‘horse in the hospital’ scenario that we have today.
The Chase is good clean fun. Quotable. Naive. Funny. And something about it makes me want to stand up and cheer. It’s a movie that makes me actually cheer at the end. Fo realz. It’s just silly and fun.
Now I know that 96% of you will read this and not watch it. That’s OK. But you’ll be missing out on Henry Rollins as a roided out cop who calls himself a ‘Standard Issue Street Soldier’ and a ‘Street Prophet’.
Rollins’ partner, played by Josh Mostel, is an amazing foil for the hulking cop. He’s softer and more introspective, but no less toxic.
You’ll miss out on Westley and Gabriella Lamiel as a smug news anchors:
And Bree Walker as the canary in the mine for a generation of bottle blonde conservative news anchors.
You’ll miss Marshal Bell as Attorney Ari Josephsen.
You’ll miss out on RHCP band members Anthony Kiedis…
and Flea playing two of the dumbest people in the universe, who hang out at a place called Big Willie’s Dirty Dogs.
They are amazing in this movie. Amazing. Like, Flea is sooooo good, man. He has this tiny part and he just kills it. Small moments, and you 100% understand the character he builds. It’s phenomenal.
In the no small actors department, you’ll get this scene right out of the gate with Chamblee Ferguson as the convenience store clerk…
…and Alex Allen Morris and Marco Perella as Cop #1 and Cop #2. I put them up against anyone in film history for utterly killing a role with no name. Killing it. They are note perfect, both of them. Perfect. Their smiles, their mannerisms. I still quote their “hey hey hey” and the cashier’s “thar she blows!” twenty-five years later.
You’ll miss Rocky Carroll as news reporter Byron Wilder. He slays this role. Just over and over again with perfect delivery of his lines every time. He’s in the zone in this movie.
You’ll miss out on perennial bad guy Ray Wise and his amazing hair, paired with Claudia Christian making you laugh out loud as his trophy wife. She’s great.
You’ll miss out on Kristy Swanson with a perfect tan, great hair and white teeth. Is she Meryl Streep? No! Not even close! But she’s super fun in this.
And you’ll miss out on one of the more likable roles for Charlie Sheen, where he has to do everything from the seat of a car, like Tom Hardy in Locke. I almost don’t remember this era of Sheen, but in retrospect, it was promising as hell.
And that’s 1994’s The Chase. Run time is like an hour and change. It’s barely a movie. Shot like the ’80s with a sneer from the ’90s, it’s a story about a non-violent antihero and a girl who finds the courage to throw all the bullshit out the window. It’s either a fun sixty-seven minutes or the glaring indicator of my oncoming mid-life crisis. Or perhaps both. In a cinematic world that has (rightly) become so grim, the glimpse of gold shining on the horizon is refreshing. Even if it’s fools gold.
Header Image Source: Amazon Prime Video