Vibes was press-shown in the UK, but never released to cinemas … so this review, which I filed for City Limits, never ran. Now the film’s on Prime, so here – twenty-three years later – is what I thought of it.
*’Vibes’ (PG) (Ken Kwapis, 1988, US) Jeff Goldblum, Cyndi Lauper, Peter Falk, Julian Sands, Googie Gress, Elizabeth Pe»a. 99 mins.
Museum keeper Nick Deezy (Golblum) and beautician Sylvia Pickel (Lauper) meet at an Institute for Psychic Research when their paranormal powers are tested. He can flashback to past events when he touches an object (‘remind me not to eat in the canteen here,’ he remarks while fondling a knife), and she has a spirit guide called Louise who brings her messages from the afterlife. Both are approached by Harry (Falk), a charmingly transparent conman, and suckered into a trip to Ecuador, supposedly in search of Harry’s missing son, but actually in pursuit of an Incan Lost City, a treasure beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and a source of incredible mystic power.
‘Vibes’ comes off like a mediocre episode of a good television series: the characters are likable and well-played, and the basic premise is sound, but the specifics of this particular story never really fall in place. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandell, who wrote ‘Splash!’, create amusing screen characters for their stars: Goldblum is whacky and conservative at the same time, and Lauper – if she relies too much on Ellen Greene’s leftover dumb blonde mannerisms – is an engaging heroine and unique in the modern American cinema in that she has a stomach. There are also some funny supporting performances, especially from Falk as a crumpled crook and Gress as a corrupt Swedish psychic, although Julian Sands (boo! hiss!) continues to be the most embarrassing Englishman in the movies as the villain.
There are good jokes, nice South American locales, and one hopes the film will be successful enough to warrant a sequel in which these nice people have something worthwhile to do, but the supposedly awesome mystic finale is even sillier than the one in ‘The Golden Child’ and too much of the rest is just xeroxed from ‘Romancing the Stone’.