Forgotten Friday Flick – “Off Beat”

Sometimes comedy isn’t biting and caustic but contains subtlety, romance and dancing cops – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  Today we’re digging into the recesses of the underrated Judge Reinhold (he’s more than Beverly Hills Cop and Fast Time At Ridgemont High folks!) for a hidden gem that I actually had to rent from one of the last remaining video stores to re-watch.  (YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies and TV and Vudu – it’s virtually MIA!)  It’s a sweet tale of a good-natured dude who gets in over his head when the boogie down bug bites him.  Bank robberies, impersonating an officer, library roller skating and going to your left all in a big stage attempt to not be…Off Beat!

Joe Gower is a man who has resigned to an ordinary and uneventful life.  He works for the library, has a seemingly safe girlfriend and has a life that’s pretty routine.  But when he begins to get flack from his uptight boss, is passed over for promotion, his girl decides to leave him and he is continually reminded to how he blew a chance at a long career in basketball via his police office friend Abe, Joe knows things have to chance.   Suddenly fate steps in when Abe asks Joe to fill in for him at an audition for a dancing cop show and Joe doesn’t blow it off as asked.   His passion for life gets a boost, he is paired with a beautiful cop named Rachel and finds himself featured with her in the stage show – but impersonating an officer comes with a few problems.

The scenario of mistaken identity as a plot point here is nothing new of course and has been the base for a lot of comedies over the years.  But what Off Beat borrows from funny films that came before, it also makes up for in other areas.  The mixing of cops with cutting a rug may seem like a recipe for disaster (see the laughable short-lived Steven Bochco failed TV series Cop Rock!), but Off Beat actually manages to pull it off.  (It is for charity after all!)  Using the engaging and affable qualities of lead Judge Reinhold as a story starting point, the film is able to then filter various caustic and charismatic police personalities into the conga line with surprising ease.  Not that the film doesn’t have some suspension of disbelief segments (see Judge wearing fake blues involved in an actual bank robbery!) or pure 80’s items (love that library loving Reinhold can wield a gun at work…and not be arrested!), but there’s an understated approach to the more fantastical elements via helmer Michael Dinner (which he also showed in Heaven Help Us and the Bobcat Goldthwait vehicle Hot To Trot!) that makes the more far-fetched movie medicine moments easier to swallow.

Again, Reinhold is most assuredly the easy-going glue that holds Off Beat together, but the rest of the cast are no gang of slouches.  Featuring a cast of impressive New York actors, the film boasts a lot of notable names early in their respective careers.  So alongside the engaging and gorgeous Meg Tilly as the love interest and the funny Cleavant Derricks as the sassy best friend (both perfectly paired with Judge!), there’s the likes of John Turturro as a buttoned-down boss (think James Spade in Mannequin caliber!), Joe Mantegna and James “Slack” Tolkan as a rival cops, Penn Jillette as a fellow library geek and even smaller cameo roles from William Sadler, Anthony Zerbe, Fred “Munsters” Gwynne, Austin Pendleton, John “Breakfast Club” Kapelos, Chris Noth with Harvey Keitel and Victor Argo showing up as bank robbers too – this cast is the killer.

But ultimately it’s the sweetness of new love and off the charts subtle chemistry between the films two lovable leads that fills in the blanks when the comedy is ever ailing.  A cinematic match made in heaven (sorry – had to use it!) the good-natured vibe of Reinhold mixed with the quiet cuteness of Tilly should have been a continuous Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan pairing for the soft-spoken set, but at least there’s Off Beat.

A lot of folks hated the dancing cop wares of Off Beat and the film was not a big hit for everyone involved and years later has virtually disappeared off the past picture radar.  And while Reinhold was relegated once again to small side roles afterwards to merely dismiss his genial qualities as an amiable leading man is a huge mistake.  Not everyone can pull off Off Beat – Reinhold is the exception.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

  1. No Comments