Movie Review: Matinee

In a world on the brink, movies often provide the ultimate escape. In Matinee (B-), director Joe Dante explores a weekend during the Cold War Crisis in which a movie mogul (John Goodman) debuts his latest exploitation flick and accompanying in-theater stunts in a way that plays out in real-life adventures with young lovers, paranoid citizens and fascinated fans. A bit of a riff on the War of the Worlds radio play controversy, Matinee spools with a bit of a devil-may-care attitude, relatively unsure of its own target audience (film buffs? nostalgia nuts?) It’s not quite universal enough to be a shared experience, not quite funny enough to draw in the comedy fans. Goodman is nonetheless fantastic as the impresario, hawking an Atomo-Vision gimmick with the sales bravado of Willy Wonka meets Willy Loman. And Dante, of Gremlins and Innerspace fame, is perfect for this material and brings out his usual cast of cameos and in-jokes.