The Temp (1993)

I don’t know if there’s much of an online fan community for 1993’s campy “The Temp,” but I’ll be the first to throw my hat in the ring as the leader of the cult reappropriation of this so-bad-it’s-good disaster of a thriller. Make no mistake: This is garbage, but it’s fun garbage. First off, Timothy Hutton is not exactly the most likable actor around so, putting him in a sympathetic lead role isn’t exactly a stroke of genius – he’s untrustworthy, sketchy and on the sleazy side (not to mention a neglectful father and psychologically abusive husband), so the audience is never on his side at any time. Lara Flynn Boyle is also woefully miscast as the kind of gorgeous woman who stops men dead in their tracks: It reflects poorly on Boyle that her character is discussed in terms that don’t really match up with what we’re seeing onscreen because, despite her tiny frame, she’s made to look frumpy by a costume designer who apparently had a score to settle with her, and she’s not helped by a laughably cheap wig. It’s also hilarious to watch the terrific supporting cast slumming it, like a cartoonishly over-the-top Faye Dunaway approaching her character like she’s in a sequel to “Mommie Dearest,” not to mention an unpleasantly viscous Oliver Platt, who plays his character like he’s a Disney villain instead of a minor corporate stooge. That’s a big part of the problem here: There are no likable characters so there’s no one to root for. As a matter of fact, in the end I found myself rooting for Boyle’s character to triumph mostly since everyone else just sucks, and it’s a bad sign when your audience starts rooting for the villain. But I have to be honest: The movie is so poorly designed, so misguided and inconsistent that you can’t help but stare in wonderment that someone even made it in the first place. The suspense scenes veer wildly from tame to hardcore but often don’t seem connected to the story or its characters (for instance, Hutton’s assistant Lance gets his hand mangled in a shredder… but it’s a straight up accident caused by his own incompetence, so why is this Boyle’s fault?), so it’s the kind of bad movie that’s fun to rip into with some smart-mouthed friends because it veers wildly off-course so often. So grab a few smart-mouthed friends, crack open a beer and you’re gonna have a great time ripping this one to shreds, trust me. It’s a gift from the bad movie gods.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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