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DVD Review: Wolf (1994)

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Wolf  (1994)

Directed by Mike Nichols

DVD Review: Wolf (1994) starring Jack Nicholson, James Spader, and Michelle pfeifferJack Nicholson stars as middle-aged businessman, Will Randall, who has the misfortune to run down a wolf while driving home at night, in the snow. When he gets out of the car for a closer look at the wolf's inert body, he makes the mistake of reaching out and touching the beast. The wolf was either just stunned or it was faking it, either way, it bites Randall's outstretched hand and then makes a quick recovery and runs back into the woods.

After the incident with the wolf Randall finds he is a changed man. Okay, horses don't seem to like him anymore, and become nervous whenever he is around; but—on the positive side—he doesn't need his glasses anymore, and his sense of hearing, along with his sense of smell, seem to have become incredibly sensitive. Of course, he now has some strange hairs growing underneath the bandage on his hand, and his palm is not an area of his body that normally requires any grooming, but what the heck, he is lucky enough to own a pair of scissors, so the problem is easily remedied.

As if Randall didn't have enough on his plate (or should that be in his bowl?) he finds that his young protege at work, Stewart Swinton (James Spader), has forced him out of his job. I have only seen a few of Spader's films and in every one of them he has played someone really obnoxious. He seems to have a real talent for this kind of role and in Wolf he does a very good job of  ensuring Swinton comes across as someone who is more than deserving of a left or right hook to the jaw. Randall has his own, rather unique, way of handling back-stabbers though. More on that later.

It would seem that Randall has another problem (it never rains but it paws). He discovers his wife might have a little of the dog in her as well. She is supposedly out of town on business, and when Randall listens to the message she has left for him on the answering machine he happens to be standing next to her closet. He picks up one of her dresses and, utilizing his new and improved sense of smell, instantly smells a rat. Pressing the dress to his nose, he takes a good hard sniff. Then, in true bloodhound-like manner he tracks his wife to where she really is—her secret lover's apartment.

With both his marriage and his career going down the pan, things are not looking good for Randall, but this cloud has a silver lining and, after a chance encounter with his former employer's daughter, Laura Alden (Michelle Pfeiffer),  romance is in the air for the old dog.

Throughout all of the good and bad things that are happening in his life the one thing that worries Randall most of all are the changes he is going through, and while he can willingly embrace some of the new gifts that he has acquired, he is very worried about the price they might carry.

I bought this DVD because I thought Jack Nicholson would make a great werewolf, and do you know what? He does, but the story is a little weak in places and I found Wolf  a rather mediocre film. It's worth watching, perhaps more as light entertainment than horror, becuase there are some truly amusing scenes in the film. The most memorable of which, for me, has to be the one where the new and improved Randall, blackmails himself back into his old job and tells his employer that he will tell Stewart about it. When he runs into him in the toilet he tells him there, then when Stewart gets a little bit vocal in his indignation, Randall, who is busy urinating at the time, turns around and urinates all over Stewart's shoes. Then when Stewart asks him what he thinks he is doing, Randall tells him that he is marking his territory.

If any two people shine in this film it is Nicholson and Spader. They are great. Pfeifer is good too, but her character is more of a decoration than anything else. It's not her fault, she can, after all, only do her best with the script that she is given.

DVD Review: Wolf (1994)

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I found the end of Wolf  particularly disappointing, so much so, in fact, that I checked the DVD to see if it included an alternative ending, hoping that I might prefer it if there was one. Sadly there was not.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Runtime: 120 mins
Certificate: 15 (UK)
,  R (USA)


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