Miracle Mile (1988)

This movie starts off as a light comedy, goes into romance, and then develops into a suspense-action thriller. It’s science fiction too, inasmuch as it centers around a nuclear catastrophe that will wipe out Los Angeles where the movie takes place. The tone of the movie varies unexpectedly from one scene to the next and even within scenes. For example, there’s a black character played by Mykelti Williamson in the comic style of Eddie Murphy; but in one scene he sprays two police officers with gasoline and they ignite it by firing their guns, leading to their fiery deaths. As the word gets out of impending doom and as the streets become crowded with people either seeking to escape or drain the keg dry in their final moments, there is evident pandemonium and car crashes, again a mixture of the comic and the tragic. This is nuclear catastrophe that at times, most of the time, is handled via farce. I regard this movie as a comedy, despite its subject matter. The characters it brings in and their behavior are almost all comic.

The overall impact on me was to think that this is an oddball movie. Not a bad movie, but definitely on the unusual side. It’s not really moving emotionally, although it seems to try for it in places. It’s more distant from the emotional, more reflective, I think, of its writer and director, Steve De Jarnatt, who was 28 when he did this movie, if his 1960 birth date is accurate. And he certainly should be congratulated for doing it. That’s quite an achievement.

The film has been called bizarre, over the top, zany, twisty and quirky. It’s all of those. For much of it, I thought it would turn out to be a dream occurring when we see Edwards fall asleep and oversleep his date. I still think that it’s a dream, because we see a large fire occurring near his apartment, below it, and this has no impact on him or the narrative. In addition, the events themselves are so weird and unlikely that assuming it’s all a dream makes the story more understandable. If we look closely at details shown on screen, we may find more evidence to support this interpretation; but I haven’t taken the trouble to watch this again. Some day I will. It’s a good show, and really a comedy at heart.