Anchor Bay // 1987 // 111 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 9th, 2001
The way he practices law should be a crime!
I wish that someone could explain to me how Judd Nelson got himself an acting career. So far the only time I've enjoyed him has been in the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club. Otherwise, I can't say that I'm a big fan of the Juddster (and after the horrendous sitcom Suddenly Susan, can anyone blame me?). In 1987 Nelson starred in From The Hip, a comedy/drama written by Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelly and directed by Bob Clark (Porky's, A Christmas Story). Anchor Bay brings this film to DVD and in front of the DVD Verdict court for a trial like no other!
Robin "Stormy" Weathers (Nelson) is a young lawyer with an ego the size of the sun. Inexperienced and brash, Weathers is given a chance to prove himself in court by taking on a small battery trial. Using obnoxious and unique techniques (including stringently fighting over the definition of the term "asshole"), Weathers wins his case to the dismay of his law firm. However, Weathers' attitude and offbeat proceedings are bringing in clients, one of which urges the firm to take Weathers on as a partner.
Things seem to be going great for Weathers until his first case as a partner: a murder trial with a client (John Hurt, Alien) whom Weathers thinks might actually be guilty. With the help of his two law office colleagues (David Allen Grier and Dan Monahan) and his caring girlfriend (Elizabeth Perkins, He Said, She Said), Weathers may have a chance at cracking this case wide open...or going down in flames!
From The Hip is a film that starts off promising, than ever so slowly tumbles down hill. The problem doesn't lie in the script, though the script is pretty weak. The problem doesn't reside in the dialogue, though it's not as sharp as it could be. No, the problem lies solely in Judd Nelson's performance of Robin Weathers. Except for a few quieter moments, I had a hard time stomaching Nelson's smug performance throughout this entire feature.
Now, I realize that I'm proclaiming a bold statement here. I know that some of you like Judd Nelson (and I applaud all four of you for being honest and open enough to admit it). However, the fact remains that Nelson is one of the most cloyingly obnoxious performers in recent Hollywood history. During From The Hip Nelson never misses an opportunity to spout furiously, flare his nostrils or become audibly upset just because he can. Scene after scene Nelson shouts, fumes, and banters with everyone in sight. His tactics in the courtroom are uncontrollable and (I think) are supposed to be cute and funny to the viewer. Personally I didn't find many of Weathers' stunts funny much less believable. I find it hard to accept that a court of law would allow a man to place a live rat under another man's chair or hide a woman's vibrator in another man's briefcase just to make a point. Or that a lawyer would be allowed to go ballistic with a hammer by destroying property all over the courtroom...just to make a point. If this is America's court system, I can see why so many people complain about it.
The funny thing is that Nelson is surrounded by a surprisingly good and professional cast of actors. Included in this collective is Elizabeth Perkins, funny man David Allen Grier (TV's In Living Color) , and Porky's holdover Dan Monahan. Also featured are veteran actors Ray Walston (Of Mice and Men), the late Nancy Marchand (TV's The Sopranos), and Darren McGavin (director Bob Clark's A Christmas Story). Maybe all these people signed on before Nelson came aboard...and couldn't get out of their contractual obligations after his damage was done.
Then again, maybe I'm being too rough on Nelson. Screenwriters Bob Clark and David E. Kelly have fashioned a script that is sometimes amusing but mostly just plain obvious. Weathers' stunts become boring and flaccid after a while, and by the time it comes to the "big" climactic murder trial you already know if the defendant did it or not (and if you don't know, then it's time for you to go back and watch reruns of Night Court to brush up on your legal skills). Which reminds me of another problem with From The Hip: the first half is wacky comedy, the second half a courtroom drama. From The Hip would have fared much better if the filmmakers would have picked one side of the fence and stayed on it.
From The Hip is not a horrible film, but it's not a particularly good one either. It has its moments, but they come sporadically and are all-too-short. Nelson's overacting gets in the way one too many times, and by the end of this film you're ready to plead guilty...for sitting through this whole dang thing.
From The Hip is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and, once again, Anchor Bay has done a fantastic job on this transfer. While I spotted a few places with dirt and grain, overall this is a very clean print with minimal edge enhancement and digital artifacting.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono and works fine for what this film is. Most of the sound comes directly from the center speaker without much depth or spaciousness. Seeing as From The Hip is a dialogue driven movie, it wasn't in need of an overblown Dolby 5.1 remix. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and Paul Zaza's typically bouncy '80s score are clear of any distortion or hiss.
The only extra feature included on From The Hip is an anamorphic theatrical trailer for the film.
From The Hip just doesn't stack up to other great comedies of the 1980s. Judd Nelson should be smacked with a leather strap soaked in rubbing alcohol for his shameless acting indulgence. As for Anchor Bay, they've done a very nice job on this transfer (though minimal supplements this time around), and as usual will be dismissed for their outstanding contributions to the DVD community
From The Hip is guilty! Anchor Bay is innocent! So speaks Judge Naugle! Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailer