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Modern Problems

Right before making the original "Vacation", Chevy Chase was stuck in one of his weakest films, 1981's MODERN PROBLEMS.

Chevy is Max Fielder, an air traffic controller who comes home from his job in the opening scenes to find that his girlfriend Darcy (Patty D'Arbanville) has moved out.

We are lazily informed by a really bad screenplay that Max is possessive and boring and Darcy needs more excitement and commitment. (what an exciting plot!)

Max's problems get worse when he is doused in radioactive chemicals from a tanker whose lid is off in a convenient and stupid plot point serving to bathe Chevy in a green glow and give him telekinetic powers that are really going to make the movie funny!

Or not.

Characters are introduced with no rhyme or reason, Chevy parades around in increasingly short and embarrassing gym shorts and Max actually sinks into a deep depression, making him so unappealing that its hard to even root for the hero of this mess.


Great comic actor Dabney Coleman is given little to do other than to drip in sexism and be an a-hole. The plot point around him being a famous writer goes nowhere.

We glimpse Chevy as an air traffic controller a couple times, but there is NO comic payoff for his job and his new powers. Imagine what real writers could do with that job and his gifts. Nada.

They plop an exact replica of the Psycho house on the beach for the conclusion and then do nothing with the joke.

Nell Carter is saddled with a Jamaican Voodoo housemaid role that I hope paid her a lot, because its really a thankless role with no laughs and lots of stereotypical weight hanging on it.

At only 89 minutes long, this thing creaks and lumbers toward a predictable conclusion and feels three hours long.

Poor Chevy. He gets a couple laughs when his telekinesis suddenly shifts to demonic possession for no reason. The thirty seconds in which he snorts the anti-demon powder off the floor like some Tony Montana/Regan wannabee is funny and he pays it off with a big laugh.

So glad for Chevy that he moved on from this dud to his first performance as Clark Griswold. It made all of us forget Max and the money we spent on this amateur hour, unfunny mess.

Writer/Director Ken Shapiro never directed another movie after this.

Count your blessings and bury this turd with an F.

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