Night Shift (1982)
Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton, Shelley Long
In the 80s there was a group of feel-good movies about nerdy white dudes who accidentally became pimps, including Risky Business, Doctor Detroit, and Night Shift. What the genesis of this trend was, I don't know, but maybe it was the studio execs' absolution for their years spent pimping out aspiring starlets. I do know it was a more enjoyable trend than the body-switching movie craze of the late 80s, so who cares why they did it as long as we got some good movies out of it, right?
The Fonz stars here as Chuck, an uptight late 30s guy who is ruled by his mean mama and who is about to be passed off to his equally horrible sea hag of a fiancée. Despite his tight-assedness, he works a slacker job as a morgue attendant. Due to some nepotism on the day shift he gets kicked over to nights, and gets a new partner in Bill Blaze (Michael Keaton) who is either off his meds or else he did ALL the coke. Bill is so bored with the slow pace of the job (because in the universe this movie is set in no one dies at night in New York City) that he starts running a limo service using the city hearses; this segues into pimpery when Chuck's beautiful prostitute neighbor (Long) loses her pimp because Richard Belzer slam-dunks him off a building.
Bill and Chuck aren't doing anything at night anyway, so soon it's oops, we're pandering. Chuck happens to be business savvy due to a past life spent as a stockbroker, so before you know it he's socking away money in a coffee can SO HARD and Bill is flossing in a Stutz Blackhawk. This being an 80s comedy, they're flying through a montage one minute and then they crash, but everything will probably turn out all right in the end.
Henry Winkler shows off his acting abilities here. I can't even believe I'm looking at the same person who plays Arthur Fonzarelli and all he does is change clothes, lower his voice, and lose the swagger. Michael Keaton reminds us why he is 32 flavors of awesome with his lovable, manic Bill. Seriously, that guy needs to be mega-famous again. I'll admit that the movie is a bit dated, and that some loose ends are left at the end of the story, which are two reasons Night Shift doesn't seem to be all that well-remembered. Still, this is far and away my second favorite Ron Howard movie, after A Beautiful Mind. So, what can you learn from this movie?
Six Things I've Learned From Night Shift
1. Night court can't possibly be as entertaining is it is always portrayed in the movies and on TV, otherwise people would just get arrested on purpose when they have nothing better to do.
2. 80s "glamorous" clothes for women were pretty stank looking.
3. A hooker will honestly tell you if she is faking her orgasm with you. Just ask her!
4. The best reason to get tinted windows in your car is so you can give the cops the finger.
5. The day you decide that you have had enough and you are not going to take it anymore, everyone who used to bother you will magically get off your case. Even attack dogs such as your overbearing mother!
6. Never, ever get Joe Spinell wet after midnight.