Jumpin' Jack Flash [Blu-Ray] Penny Marshall

Jumpin' Jack Flash [Blu-Ray] Penny Marshall
6
In the early to mid-'80s, back when James Cameron and Michael Crichton were making admonitory tales about the dangers of playing God with technology, computers were an exciting, newfangled contraption filled with possibilities. One such possibility — something that is now the status quo for most of the modern world — was that of connected communication, wherein people in different countries could chat with each other instantly and even share images and sound bytes. Inherently, the fear of such accessible human connectivity was conspiratorial in nature. Most stories at the time applied Orwellian paranoia to warn people not to embrace technological change so readily, suggesting they question how such gadgets could be used nefariously. In the world of Jumpin' Jack Flash, a rudimentary form of Internet is presented as the central gimmick for narrative development. Irreverent and unlucky-in-love bank employee Terry Dolittle (Whoopi Goldberg) has a tendency to reach beyond the confines of appropriate workplace dialogue, getting to know employees at other financial institutions around the world while conducting vaguely defined account transactions in DOS. And while the subtext is complicated by the narrative demands of what is ostensibly a blind date romantic comedy, the tenets of Cold War paranoia are here in digital form. Terry is thrown into an elaborate web of intrigue, trying to work with the British consulate to extract an agent imprisoned in an unnamed Eastern European country after he hacks her computer and tests her mental faculties with obscure Rolling Stones trivia. None of it makes a great deal of sense (how is he able to regularly get online while imprisoned and why does Terry have security clearance to connect to a live financial system after hours?), but it does service the political climate of the mid-'80s while adding a bit of physical comedy and playful shenanigans for good measure. It also helped introduce the comic talents of Goldberg, who, prior to making this movie and selling the "dress in a shredder" scene with full aplomb, had been praised for her dramatic work in The Color Purple. As such, this absurdly dated comedy is fun enough for what it is, but holds a place in history only for its ability to prove that there was a large audience for a mainstream comedy headlined by a black woman. If it had starred Shelley Long, as originally planned, it would probably fall more into the Hello Again bin, where even a bare-bones Blu-Ray release such as this wouldn't make any business sense. (Anchor Bay)