31 July 2008 | wes-connors
From Flashback to Déjà Vu
In 1969, peace loving hippies Eric Roberts (as Fred) and Cheech Marin (as Hesus) flee to Central America, to avoid being drafted into Vietnam War service. Why the US government believes Mr. Marin would be of any real use during warfare is never explained; but, Mr. Roberts looks like a major Commie-killing loss. Anyway, they spend the next 20 years hiding in the jungle, smoking marijuana, and enjoying peace. Their hippie friends, Julie Hagerty (as Petra) and Robert Carradine (as Sammy), remain behind. While in Central America, Roberts and Marin learn about a US invasion plan, and decide to return to New York, and stop the war. They are in for a rude awakening...
In 1989, the peace movement appears dead. Roberts and Marin try to adapt to the changes in American society. They try to re-connect with Ms. Hagerty and Mr. Carradine, who have become materialistic yuppies. How can they erase their friends' 1980s brainwashing, avoid capture by perseverating FBI man Cliff De Young (as Brubaker), and stop the war?
Aaron Russo and Neil Levy's underrated "Rude Awakening" certainly doesn't always work; but, it's funny more often than not. Roberts and Marin are almost a satirical casting in-joke (sixties, meet the eighties). One of the film's most obvious misses is that the main attempt to transcend a 20-year-gap is an unconvincing pair of pasted-on beards. Although, to answer Roberts' later, more general question, "How's my hair?" Great. It's impossible to hold back laughing at Marin's first meeting with the "fish". But, they should have used Don Knotts voice. Of the four "hippie" friends, Carradine's is, performance-wise, most convincing. Check out Louise Lasser (as Ronnie)'s customers!
The highlight of the film is a terrific "cocktail party" hosted by Carradine and uptight wife Cindy Williams (as June). They are visited by the "Stools", Buck Henry (as Lloyd) and Andrea Martin (as April). A cocktail party attended by Cheech Marin, Eric Roberts, Robert Carradine, Buck Henry, Cindy Williams, and Andrea Martin is every bit as funny as it sounds. If only they could have figured out how to get Lasser there (and the overhead mike out). There are enough funny moments, all around; but, the hilarious supporting characterizations by Martin and Williams, alone, make this well worth watching.
****** Rude Awakening (1989) Aaron Russo ~ Eric Roberts, Cheech Marin, Andrea Martin