Paramount // 1993 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 16th, 2002
Don't get mad.
Evil wears many faces. For some evil is poverty. For others evil is an addiction to drugs. For Peter Derns, evil is a newly hired temp secretary with long legs and a plunging cleavage line. Yes, terror takes on a new form in the high rise offices of the corporate world...the evil known as The Temp! Director Tom Holland (Child's Play, Fright Night) shows off the dos and don'ts to clawing your way to the top with this 1993 flick that poses the question "can a thriller actually be thrilling if it takes place in the offices of a cookie company?" Starring Lara Flynn Boyle (Threesome, Men In Black 2), Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People, The Dark Half), Oliver Platt (Lake Placid), and Faye Dunaway (Chinatown), The Temp gives viewers a pink slip on DVD care of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Nothing says lovin' like sweet murder from the oven. So goes life at Mrs. Appleby's, a high powered company that sells fresh, homemade-style cookies. Junior executive Peter Derns (Hutton) is beginning his ascent up the corporate ladder when his assistant's wife suddenly goes into labor. The next day, he finds Kris Bolin (Boyle) as his new personal temp. At first, Kris seems to have everything going for her: looks, smarts, and an efficient way around the office. Kris even finds time to help Peter come up with a successful marketing campaign for a new cookie product that awes his hard-as-nails boss Charlene Towne (the still smolderingly sexy Dunaway). But things start to smell fishy to Peter when rival execs start showing up late to work...because they're dead! First Peter's rival co-worker Jack (Platt) turns up six feet under, and soon others are quickly following in his footsteps. Is this all just pure coincidence? Or is Kris behind the deadly lay-offs (pun intended)?
The Temp is pure hooey. It's billed as a thriller, but there aren't a lot of thrills to be found. I guess you could say it's a horror movie of sorts, but the gore and suspense is kept to a bare minimum. So just what is The Temp? Well, I'll tell you -- it's the goofiest movie I've seen in a while.
In its own twisted way The Temp is somewhat entertaining. The whole thing mostly works as if it's in the confines of a stage play. Most of the action takes place in office buildings, which feature many scenes of Hutton acting suspicious around everyone, and Boyle showing off her A.) boobs B.) legs and C.) boobs. Purring like a cat in heat, Boyle could make a reptile's blood boil to 400 degrees. Her performance is the centerpiece of this film -- with long, luxurious hair and a cunning smirk, the woman catapults herself from meager temp secretary to executive in a matter of what appear to be weeks. Hutton plays his role as if he's being followed by the FBI -- his paranoia is almost as thick as his head of hair. If there was one single thing that I enjoyed about The Temp (and that's not far from the truth), it was Hutton and Boyle's combined attraction/repulsion. Hutton's character seemed to flip-flop about his feelings for Kris -- at first he wants to bop her brains out, then he suspects her of backstabbing. After that, he wants to lick her nips, then he suspects her of murder. In a strange way, it was fun to watch these two play with each other's fears and sex appeal.
Otherwise, The Temp often feels like a made-for-TV movie that wasn't shown on the tube because someone threw in an extra "f**k" or "c**k" along the way. The Temp received an R rating, but why? The MPAA says it's because there was naughty language (okay, I'll mildly agree to that) and scenes of violence. But the scenes of violence never end up being gory or overly obscene. The worst I can remember is when an assistant gets his hand caught in a shredding machine, which was mostly shown off-screen. This was also the scariest part of the film (and for those who think I just spoiled it for them...shame on you. Do you think the film would spend that much time ogling over the suspense of a hand in a grinding shredder and not give the viewer some kind of payoff?). The bulk of the supporting cast is wasted, including the always entertaining Oliver Platt and the ferocious Faye Dunaway, who looks like a sexy version of the Lion from The Wizard of Oz with her mane of hair cascading down around her face (so sue me -- I have Mrs. Robinson syndrome with Ms. Dunaway).
I can't really recommend The Temp because it's just not a very good movie. However, after doing some deep thinking (i.e., me, a bag of corn chips and some Jimmy Buffett), I have come to the conclusion that you could do much worse than this little fluffball film. Don't believe me? Check out Battlefield Earth, Freddy Got Fingered, or A Night To Dismember for some real cinematic pain. Otherwise, The Temp is just like Mrs. Appleby's cookies -- packaged well, but ultimately insubstantial.
The Temp is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Paramount has done a decent job of bringing this transfer to DVD with brightly saturated colors and even black levels. This isn't to say that the image doesn't suffer from some inconsistencies, including a small amount of dirt and some edge enhancement in a multitude of scenes. However, I'm in a forgiving mood. Overall, this is a pleasant looking transfer for the film it supports.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English as well as Dolby Surround in English and Dolby Stereo in French. The new 5.1 soundtrack is passable if under whelming -- the only directional effects that I spotted were during a few rain storm sequences and when Fredric Talgorn's music score kicked in. Otherwise, this is a rather subdued soundtrack that presents most of its soundtrack from the front and center speakers. However, it's distortion free, so apparently there is a God. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
Someone in the Paramount offices must have gone on a donut break during The Temp's DVD infusion, as nary a trailer or production note is featured on this disc.
Help wanted: must be willing to sit through B-level films without laughing like a complete maniac (half-maniac is okay). Sense of humor required. Sense of culture and art optional. If interested, please call 1-800-SEND-ME-BETTER-MOVIES-2-REVIEW.
The Temp is sentenced to six days community service! Paramount is slapped with a fine for not even so much as trailer on this disc!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated R