Release Date: August 5th, 1988 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Ken Kwapis Actors: Jeff Goldblum, Cyndi Lauper, Peter Falk, Googy Gress, Park Overall, Julian Sands
88’s “Vibes” is definitely juvenile, but nevertheless wholeheartedly light, flamboyant, and whimsically romantic. Packed with verbal comedy, facial expression contortionist Jeff Goldblum, continuously loopy quips, and the enduringly ditzy Cyndi Lauper, this Ken Kwapis-directed adventure film is worth a look, especially for fans of (not so) perilous journeys and silly excitement. It takes lessons from “Romancing the Stone,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “The Princess Bride,” though it’s unable to match the believable chemistry or expertly choreographed action of those far more famous productions.
At a Department of Paranormal Studies research center, Dr. Steele (Julian Sands) gathers several of the most brilliant psychics to help him with a special project. The two brightest of the bunch are Sylvia Pickel (Cyndi Lauper in her acting debut), the epitome of incredibly sexy but dumb blonde girls, and Nick Deezy (a young Jeff Goldblum), a museum employee who prefers not to sacrifice his humanity to be used as a walking Ouija board. His specialty is psychometry, the ability to touch objects and see where they’ve been; his other gift is skepticism. Sylvia, on the other hand, sincerely claims to be perpetually accompanied by an invisible friend named Louise, from the “other side,” who forewarns of dangerous events. She also deals with astral projection – the power to place conscience awareness outside of the physical body – and bad luck with manipulative men (Steve Buscemi makes a brief appearance) and utter losers. “My last boyfriend was a guy who drank soup by putting his head in it.”
Harry Buscafusco (Peter Falk) recruits the two talented psychics (for a cool $50,000 in counterfeit bills) on an expedition into the mountains of Ecuador, where he hopes to find his missing son. Nick’s intuition suggests that Harry is up to something, but the thought of momentarily escaping his curator work is too tantalizing to ignore. Sure enough, the mission leads the trio into danger and disaster when it’s revealed that they’re actually in search of hidden Incan treasures – with supernatural powers!
With 3-foot-tall multi-colored hair, bright makeup, a squeaky voice, and loud clothing, Cyndi Lauper is in signature form as Sylvia, bringing a pleasantly contrasting approach to Goldblum’s straight-laced, sensible leading man. The two have an undeniable chemistry, filled with giddy flirtations and lots of cheesy one-liners, which are expectedly utilized for romantic warfare until the very end, when they simply can’t continue masking their true feelings. Add to that the dawdling and obnoxious villain Ingo (Googy Gress), Falk’s rapid-fire jokes, a consistently kooky tone, music by James Horner, and Lauper’s luscious legs unsubtly always in frame, and “Vibes” proves not to be such a bad way to spend 99 minutes.
– Mike Massie