How the hell is this film not better known? Because Joe Dante wasn't recognized as an auteur? Because the only star is John Goodman? Because it's hard to pitch its plot—which includes gimmick cinema and the Cuban Missile Crisis—in a way that does it justice? But it's a warm, witty tribute to movie geekdom as a reaction to (and shelter from) the outside world. It seems smarter and sweeter the more I think about it.
This is a film that knows what it is and succeeds even more-so because of that. A homage to fun, worthwhile B movies that is actually a fun, worthwhile B movie. Allowing time to flesh out its characters, it becomes more involving than you might think. Points are lost on that terrible “give me your hand” sequence, which could have trimmed about 15 seconds and prevented the eye-roll of the century from me.
Dante firma un lavoro incredibilmente fuori dagli schemi,in cui sono visibili gli influssi dei suoi maestri(da Bava a Corman) e in cui ancora una volta dà un saggio della sua abilità nel saper gestire decine di situazioni diverse sempre con lo stesso tocco artistico.A livello registico e di script regge alla grande,e di fatto risulta uno dei lavori metacinematografici meglio riusciti di sempre.
The first time I saw this I was 9 and probably had only seen 50 or so movies, none of which had boobies or anything. This is better as an adult and is nice little movie about communism or some shit. I dunno, I was surprised I didn't know the kid from Hocus Pocus was in this. Wow. I'm fucking old...
By far, my favorite film directed by Joe Dante who, in Matinee, manages to speak about cinema without annoying his audience. Like Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Matinee reminds me the reason why I love cinema so much: it's an art who can unveil its own mystery and tell us how we are manipulated and nonetheless still provide magic. Masterpiece.
I read a review suggesting that the focus should have been Goodman's character rather than his audience. Presumably this critic didn't engage with the material in the slightest. Though there are a few problematic elements (its politics seem confused, Mant! is overly parodic), Matinee's theme of the joy of cinefear versus the horror of life in an insane world is a strong cohesive for some enjoyable character moments.
Nostalgic ode to B-movie cinema and Cold War paranoia definitely has its moments (the movie-within-a-movie is a lot of fun) but never quite lives up to its potential. The story gets off to a shaky start with too many thinly-written extraneous characters and subplots, but it does come together at the end for a very entertaining finale.