1994, R, 125 min. Directed by Mike Nichols. Starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, Kate Nelligan, Christopher Plummer.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 24, 1994
A werewolf movie for the Nineties. Nicholson is Will Randall, a New York book editor who strikes a wolf one night while traveling through Vermont. When he leaves his car to check on the animal, it bites him, and, before you can say Maria Ouspenskaya, he's stalking deer in his stocking feet and howling at the moon. When his boss (Plummer, doing a fine job as the heartless, noncommittal boss) gives him the ax and hands the position to Nicholson's smarmy, scheming protege (Spader), the lycanthropic wheels start spinning and the blood starts flowing. Pfeiffer chimes in as Plummer's spoiled, bratty daughter, and immediately falls for Nicholson, who, as if all this weren't enough, has just caught his wife and Spader in the midst of a torrid affair. Rough week. Nichols tries mightily to put a new spin on a very old tale, but try as he might, he never gets much off the ground. Trite shots of Nicholson silhouetted against the moon (howling, of course) make you want to laugh out loud: the obvious poetry they were aiming for just isn't there. Nicholson's wolfen makeup (by Rick Baker, no less, who won an Oscar for his work on John Landis' An American Werewolf in London) is an unconvincing mishmash of Lon Chaney, Henry Hull, and Oliver Reed from assorted wolf films of the past. There's nothing new here, and although the chemistry between Nicholson and Pfeiffer is appealing, there's really nothing there either. A more appropriate tagline for the film might be “Wolf: It Bites.”