"Acting on Impulse" works, as previously mentioned, because nobody is trying to upstage anyone and this film isn't trying to be bigger then the VHS box it was bought in. The situation is simple. Someone has died, horror star Linda Fiorentino takes a vacation, she arrives at a hotel where C. Thomas Howell is having a sales conference, there are shady characters afoot, death knocks at the door with some steamy random scenes, new friends are introduced, old ones are questioned, and finally there is a infamous shootout which brings all our curiosities to rest. In one sentence this film could be summarized, but it isn't the shortness of the plot that makes this film work, it is the surroundings. The jokes are dry, but like an afternoon martini it quenches. As current films force recycled humor, this film takes that sub-par standard and rejuvenates it. There is something fresh about the humor in this film. Isaac Hayes plays the police detective on the hunt for the supposed murderer, and he couldn't act his way out of a paper bag in this film, but for some strange reason it fits with the overall tones and tenacity of the film. Nobody is trying to push the limits here, but it feels fresh and original in the same sense. There are scenes that stand out in my mind, but in your average film would be just boring and cliché. The scene where Howell steals his coworker's briefcase has been used so often, but in this film Howell comes across as the semi anti-hero. We root for the underdog, which is Howell, and yet we have no reason to. He isn't your typical stand-up main lead, he cheats, smokes, drinks, dances, and even gives the report of a lifetime, but that isn't what this film is about. Upon further investigation, "Acting on Impulse" is a double-take film. It is a film of trickery and deceit, but in all the ways that make you ask for more. It would compare to going to see "Hostel", but discovering it was about romance and not torture. A different take, but perhaps a pleasant surprise.
"Acting on Impulse" sets up as your typical "who-dun-it" horror, slasher film where the characters are over-the-top and the situations absolutely are not feasible. We think we know our characters, but then we are uprooted taken to a new environment, new characters, new situations and the film we once started with has transformed into something completely different. In this case, we went from murder/mystery to those types of films where the main character is on an unknown journey of self-discovery. For about 45-plus minutes we move away from the murder, we are reminded slightly, but for the most part it is all about Howell's life in a dog-eat-dog world. It is about Howell, not Fiorentino, which is tough because the two have this amazing chemistry together. Add in Nancy Allen, the wild card in the group, and we have three people that we think we know, but really (because of our constantly changing focus) they are miles apart. The characters are what make this film work. Our discussion today has been mainly about them because the body that surrounds "Acting on Impulse" is used, dated, cliché, and stuffy but it works. Director Sam Irvin must have seen that he didn't have Oscar caliber work in his desk, but a film that was fun, friendly, devilish, and engrossing all the same. This film is one of those rare examples of films that work with what they have, without seeming cheap or "independent".
Overall, I have to give credit to the actors again. While many of them have never seen the glory of the big-budget silver screen, they worked well together in this small feature that hasn't seen the DVD light yet. This is a fun movie. It was a random feature that I thoroughly enjoyed and actually craved more. I loved the ending, it was provocative, yet didn't pull that cheesy double-punch that has become the norm for these samplings of films. This film seemed real, and in the same sense it didn't. This is a Hollywood TV movie, actors playing for fun, a plot that may have plenty of holes, but doesn't mind standing up to the rest of the crowd. I would not have any problems showing this film to my friends, or recommending it as a summer watch. It is this random film that caught my attention and hasn't left my mind since the final credits. It feels incredibly like a 80s film, and while I will probably be laughed at in the film community, this little feature is my guilty pleasure. I loved our unknowing trio and the troubles that follow them. Like "Acting on Impulse", I have no shame in claiming this film as a great unknown independent feature. It was no crowing achievement in film, but it made do with what it had and gave this film junkie nearly two hours of great cinema.
Grade: **** out of *****