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CHEVY CHASE SUFFERS THROUGH 'MODERN PROBLEMS'

year: 1980 cast: Chevy Chase, Patty D'Arbinville, Dabney Coleman, Nell Carter, Mary Kay Place
Chevy Chase is an Air Traffic Controller (who's not on strike and surrounded by incompetents, in protesting satire of Ronald Reagan's refusal to give in to... long story); he's having serious troubles and/or... problems. First off, his convertible's been keyed. But that's nothing compared to the nuclear waste spilled from a truck, allowing him to move things at will derived from the frustration of his girlfriend leaving: Herein orchestrated physical gags are balanced along with Chase's usual deadpan humor, only more-so than usual: the poor guy's downright depressed...

Score: ***1/2
So his signature glib, subtle, conceited sarcasm is nowhere in sight. Which wouldn't fit here anyway, and why MODERN PROBLEMS (which would morph to teenagers in ZAPPED! the following year) isn't a quotable classic like CADDYSHACK or FLETCH... In fact it's pretty much forgotten...

"The Man in Me"... Perhaps his dream sequence inspired The Big Lebowski
Yet it's more about story than laughs: And before he gets those table-turning powers (while making goofy facial expressions straight from an SNL Weekend Update skit, only here to move the plot): Chevy's character is a victim of circumstance connected to everyone including his crippled friend; ex-wife; ex-girlfriend (dating a guy who makes Liberace seem like John Wayne... and feeling jealous about it?), a famous, despicable self-help author (Dabney Coleman as his usual jerk-guy) and a voodoo-spouting maid (Nell Carter before her big BREAK)....

Then when his revenge emerges with irresponsible glee, it's old school zany and entertaining enough. But the third act, taking place at his buddy's summer beach house, along with invited guests, Chevy's spells go overboard: leaving the characters, and audience, to deal with those quirky once-sporadic gifts instead of enjoying them. Although what PROBLEMS is mostly remembered for... a snorting of something more powerful than cocaine, and maybe a nod to the still-living, hard-partying John Belushi or perhaps just a way of saying farewell to the 1970's in which white powder was the fuel for SNL and its movies... Leaving one with nothing left to say but... "IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII LIKE IT!"
Perhaps the greatest coolest damn movie font of all time, the glow-green of Modern Problems
What the above title sequence becomes, the glowing nuclear neon... The movie's okay... The Font is Awesome...
Tell you what... Basically, THIS is about how funny MODERN PROBLEMS is...
A little bit of what they give back to the audience was a lot of what these guys lived for
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