Film Scouts Reviews

"Permanent Midnight"

by Thom Bennett

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You put the heroin in a spoon with a drop of water and place over an open
flame until you reach a boil. Then, using a tiny piece of cotton to filter
out any impurities, you draw the substance into a syringe and you're all
set. And who says you can't learn anything by going to the movies?

In the 90's, heroin has become as popular in movies as musicals were at one
time. How is an audience to be shocked any longer? If it's by another
super close-up of a junkie's spoon cooking over a flame, well then, I must
be missing something.

"Permanent Midnight" is the jumbled true-life tale of Jerry Stahl (played
by Ben Stiller), one time writer for the bizarre eighty's television
sitcom "Alf"... and as if this wasn't bad enough, he apparently had quite the
little heroin problem - which certainly helps explain a lot about "Alf."

I've heard this film touted as America's answer to "Trainspotting" which it
hardly is. Told through a series of flashbacks as Stiller's character
recounts his darker days to a woman who has picked him up for a motel
fling, "Permanent Midnight" lacks the style and interesting characters
that makes a film like "Trainspotting" work so well. A fine dramatic
performance by the usually comic Stiller is lost in a sea of one
dimensional characters and choppy vignettes.

If you are a Stiller fan, I would highly recommend the other two films he
has out at the moment - the hilarious "There's Something About Mary" and
the brilliant "Your Friends and Neighbors." If, on the other hand, you
are a fan of "Alf", this just may be the one for you.

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