Guilty Pleasures: Elaine Viets

After a hard day of killing people, I relax with a movie. I don’t want to see blood, murder, or guns. They remind me of work.

My husband Don got tired of hearing me critique crime movies: “You can’t freeze your own blood and then use it later to fake your own death – it will coagulate,” I’d say.
– “The cops need a warrant to search the suspect’s apartment.”
– “The six shooter fired ten rounds.”

Now we watch movies with no crime at all. These are mostly chick flicks. You know the formula: Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Boy ticks off girl. Girl walks out. He grovels. She forgives him and they live happily ever after. Chick movies have at least one scene where the couple walks in the rain or she dazzles him in a glamorous dress. One Jennifer Lopez movie combined all three: He came crawling back and they walked in the rain while she wore a glamorous dress. The dress was ruined, but it didn’t matter because he was rich and they lived happily ever after.

Recently Don brought home “One Crazy Summer,” a 1986 movie directed by Savage Steve Holland. Savage Steve sounds like a wrestler, but now he directs shows for Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

“One Crazy Summer” featured a hopelessly cute John Cusack, and Demi Moore before she exhibited her pregnant self in a coat of paint on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Some say this movie is the last time Demi looked normal. I don’t. She’s wearing those bizarre 80’s clothes.

The movie is called a “madcap comedy,” generally a tipoff this is an escapee from the turkey farm. The humor is broad: Characters have names like Squid Calamari.
The New York Times held its nose and wrote, “In spite of the director’s flair for zany humor, this film is just absurd.”


The Chicago Reader damned it with faint praise: “Not a bad film, and certainly more polished than Holland’s ‘Better off Dead’ (Editor’s note: I love Better Off Dead) debut, though it’s marred by the director’s ineradicable penchant for infantile clowning.”

Also true. Only a film critic can use words like “ineradicable penchant for infantile clowning” without giggling.

The critics gave “One Crazy Summer” a solid 60 percent on the tomatometer at Sixty-two percent of the public liked it. I vote with the paying audience.

Why couldn’t I turn it off? I’ve abandoned better movies.

I confess I loved the timeworn cliches. Cusack was an adorably aimless teenager, Hoops McCann, who graduated from Generic High School. I liked watching him beat the snobby rich kid. The developer was evil and stupid and Demi was going to lose her home to the evil developer.

I couldn’t tear myself away, though I doubt that Hoops could use a real Ferrari to power a sailboat.

But I’m not a mechanic. I’m a killer.

Elaine Viets writes two bestselling mystery series, the Dead-End Job novels and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novels. Her latest is “Pumped for Murder,” a Dead-End Job mystery set in the world of extreme bodybuilding in South Florida.