Lionsgate // 1989 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Tamika Adair (Retired) // April 14th, 2009
She's ruthless -- He's witless -- They're on the road together and falling apart at the seams.
You know those uncomfortable moments in life where you're forced to watch an embarrassing display put on by a band of undesirables and your only option is to just sit there and take it until it's over. Well that's how I felt having to endure Homer and Eddie for an inordinate amount of time.
In this DVD release of the 1989 film, Homer (James Belushi, About Last Night) leaves Arizona for Oregon upon hearing that his father is dying of cancer. Thanks to an unfortunate childhood accident involving a baseball, Homer is a simpleton. Immediately, he is hijacked for the last $87 he has to his name by the anonymous robbers he hitchhiked a ride from. With no money and no ride, he falls asleep in random car in a junk yard and awakens to find Eddie (Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple), a homeless and crazed sociopath. Operating on the assumption of getting Homer's $87 back, this odd couple begins a backward odyssey that includes armed robbery, a trip to a brothel and a foretelling, yet meaningless visit to a cemetery.
Homer and Eddie is one of the most boring "odd couple" reinterpretations I have ever had the stomach to witness. I'm used to Hollywood's odd matches: pairings like Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon franchise, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club, or Pulp Fiction's infamous duo of Samuel Jackson and John Travolta. Some fire up the screen and catapult the movie into instant classicdom. Others just fizzle from the lack chemistry or decent material to work with. Obviously, it appears to be the latter with Homer and Eddie.
If it was a real comedy, I would overlook some of the movie's faults in the effort to be amused. But it's not a comedy and despite the film's desperate attempts to be funny, I'm still not amused. Even in the moments that are supposed to elicit a little comic relief, like the scene where Esther (Eddie's cousin and prostitute) tells Homer, while dancing in underwear, that Eddie's no good. Homer disagrees and says the Eddie "has been real good with me. She buys me things. She even bought me you." Juxtaposing this scene with one of Eddie robbing and shooting a store clerk beforehand, the movie tries to come off compassionate and comical but instead unfolds in a contrived and grotesque way.
This leads into one of the biggest blunders in the film -- Eddie's character development. We all know that Whoopi has a fondness for playing caricatures. She's that actress that always goes for the extreme but, she's equally endearing because most of the time she's funny. The only extraordinary exceptions are her Oscar-recognized portrayals as Oda Mae Brown in Ghost and Celie Johnson in The Color Purple. Whoopi missed her mark with Eddie though.
Eddie is a fugitive patient of a loony bin that goes through manic fits of rage that causes her to lash out violently, most likely due to the brain tumor that gives her a month to live. During one of these fits, she attacks Homer who was just trying to mediate a fight that she started with a restaurant patron. Later, when Homer confronts her on her behavior and asks her not to hit him again, it's upsetting when Eddie says that she can't make that promise. Eddie's mental condition is never validated and later you begin to ask yourself: Do I really care? Eddie's lack of redeeming qualities serves that answer to you on a silver platter. In fact, director Andrei Konchalovsky must be certifiably insane if he could ever fathom that an audience would empathize with Eddie's casual callousness and unprovoked proclivities for violence. And don't get me started on her confused sexual identity. When Homer laughs after Eddie says that her name is short for Edwina, she goes on the defensive by saying that Homer is a faggot's name. "Where do you think Homo comes from?" she asks. Her impudence is epic. Later on, she insists on using the men's room and forces Homer to address her as "he."
One of the many futile missteps the film makes is the absurd Oakland scene that is highlighted by the Guns N' Roses song, "Welcome to the Jungle." Followed by the usual drunken homeless people, blue collar workers and hostile black folks that are evidently native to Oakland, the sequence begins with cops marking off a crime scene and then a random dead horse appears on a sidewalk. Konchalovsky's harebrained direction knows no bounds. But the best part is his propensity for letting the camera fade in and out of two-shots for no good reason and his foolish choice of including obtrusive and incompatible music into the movie's soundtrack.
In the right hands, Homer and Eddie may have been better. Thanks to Konchalovsky's (best known for another odd couple pairing, Tango and Cash) constant blunder in trying to mix melodrama and comedy, we'll never know.
And am I supposed to believe that a mentally-challenged man is going to accept a car ride with a woman who not only knocks him out upon first meeting him, but then proceeds to rob him after he was robbed a day before? So just because he's slow, automatically he's stupid and has no common sense too? Well, apparently the writer Patrick Cirillo (Tears of the Sun) thinks so. I must have a soft spot for the mentally challenged, because I just don't get how Homer can be constantly berated and abused by Eddie and not slap the shit out of her. I know I would. Homer's just a nicer person than I am.
Cirillo's ill-conceived plot doesn't end there. His decision to insert a random man dressed up as Jesus complete with the bloody crown of thorns and carrying a cross on his back is completely ridiculous and unjustified. I'm also supposed to suspend my disbelief that Homer's classmates would recognize him automatically after 30-plus years of not seeing him. There is so much wasted potential here and the plot transitions with little development or resolution.
The video transfer is pretty decent and complete with all the original film scratches. A measly trivia track is the only special feature you're going to get, which is understandable. I don't think I could bear to see a behind-the-scenes where the actors lie about how much fun they had making this awful film. But it's almost ironic that most of the trivia features facts about the cast and crew's award-winning credits. It only proves that respected actors and crew alone can't make a movie. It was Cirillo and Konchalovsky's combined failure that caused this catastrophe.
The only reprieve in Homer and Eddie is that they don't fall in love. Homer is too innocently vacant for that. James Belushi may lack the mannerisms and dramatic chops to make Homer seem legitimately impaired but he's the film's only redeeming quality. Belushi makes Homer into incredibly likable and endearing soul, which contrasts dramatically with Eddie's repulsive attitude.
On a final note, I may have truly hated and been irrevocably bored by Homer and Eddie's hapless journey into "I don't care," but bad film enthusiasts everywhere would be ecstatic to add this their overwhelming collections of filmic atrocities.
Homer and Eddie is a depressing, unrelentingly idiotic crackpot of a movie that...that...Wait. I've honestly run out of rational ways to say I hate this movie.
Guilty of wasting 100 minutes of my life that I will never get back.
Review content copyright © 2009 Tamika Adair; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Trivia Track