Retro Film Review: Enid Is Sleeping (1990)

in film •  last year  (edited)

Old proverb among show business people says that a comedy is a serious business. Watching the declining quality of American cinematic humour in the last decade, the author of this review tends to agree. The best comedies are those that were made with some serious efforts. One of those is Enid Is Sleeping (also known as Over Her Dead Body), relatively obscure 1990 film that succeeds to entertain the audience despite being based on rather outdated idea.

Set in a small New Mexican town of Las Moscas, this film tells the tale about Enid (played by Maureen Mueller), woman that has a unique talent to make a life miserable to anyone around her, including her husband Harry (played by Judge Rheinhold) and her long suffering younger sister Jane (played by Elizabeth Perkins). After a while, two of them try to seek comfort in each other, but when Enid catches them in flagranti delicto all hell breaks loose. Acting in self-defence, Jane accidentally kills her sister. Luckily, Harry happens to be a policeman, so he devises a plan to get rid of the body. As usual, things don't work out as planned, and the dead Enid continues to torment Jane and Harry with same ferocity as during her life.

Although many viewers would tend to associate this film with Weekend at Bernie's, ultimate cinematic disaster dealing with similar theme, this dark situation comedy works beyond its "high concept". This is probably due to the fact that almost anyone involved in the production gave his or her best. Screenwriters A.J. Tipping, Maurice Phillips and James Whaley created solid script, and Phillips as director was superb, both in pacing and wonderful use of New Mexican locations. But the biggest job was done by excellent cast. Elizabeth Perkins outshines anyone with her adoring portrayal of weak, victimised woman suddenly turned into criminal. Judge Rheinhold (another 1980s comedian whose peak was Beverly Hills Cop series) is also very good as her pathetic partner, same as character actors Jeffrey Jones, Brion James and Michael J. Pollard in minor roles. But, probably the most charming element of the film is beautiful, sentimental musical score by Craig Safan that works as some kind of semi-ironic commentary of the events in the movie. Although the film does have somewhat disappointing ending, the end result is really funny and entertaining film.

RATING: 6/10 (++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.movies.reviews on May 9th 1999)

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