27 August 1999 | DeeNine-2
Tenants are the curse of the propertied class
This is a carefully programmed yuppie nightmare, something to titillate the emotions betwixt the sushi and the creme de mint, something to remind the upwardly mobile that you have to keep your guard up at all times because there are animals out there waiting to take it all away from you.
Clever plot premise: Yuppie couple, stylishly unmarried, possibly for tax purposes, buy a painted lady in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, a Victorian fixer upper for $750,000. It's the 1980's and everybody is getting rich in California real estate. They are now in yuppie heaven since there are two rentals on the property which take care of $2300 of the $3700 monthly mortgage, which leaves them responsible for only $1400, which is less then they were paying before, and now they have a huge tax write-off and hopefully an appreciating property. Of course they are margined to the gills, but what can go wrong?
How about the tenant from hell? Forget about your wild parties and your late-with-the-rent dead beats. This guy (Michael Keaton as a slimy, upper crust psycho genius) doesn't even pay the deposit. He just moves in, squats, and our yuppie couple is helpless to get rid of him since by law he now has possession. He changes the locks, cultivates big ugly oriental cockroaches, and pounds away at all hours of the night, and chases off the other tenant. Seems he has done this before. Seems it is an elaborate scam to gain total possession of the entire property. Next to go are the owners.
Naturally the cops and the law seem to work for him, not our adorable couple. (This is a little fictional reality to further excite the passions of the audience, call it poetic license, since we all know that the tenant/landlord laws in California are written by and for the propertied class, as they are anywhere else, as is only right.)
But this is a morality play. Could it be that our yuppies are undeserving of their wealth and are easy prey in the econ jungle because of their naiveté? Could be. But as this is a modern morality tale, you can be sure that the woman, played with worrisome lines under her eyes by the ever adorable Melanie Griffith, will turn the tables and kick some male butt despite the handicap of having a not too bright boyfriend, who is easily manipulated by our villain into some rather stupid male behavior that makes things worse for our heroine. Incidentally, he is played with such annoying exactitude by Matthew Modine that I can hear the rednecks in the audience screaming: "Die yuppie scum!"
It should be noticed that the adversary of the yuppies is not your standard ghetto dweller, but a wayward member of the upper class, a fitting adversary in this yuppie trial by fire.
I'll let you guess who wins.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)