With "21 Jump Street" in full movie release mode this weekend, it reminded me of another 80’s gem where an adult also goes back to high school with equally interesting results – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick! While some youthful looking grown ups head back to teen land in pursuit of something, this is one underrated gem where the lead man is actually running away. Shaving the beard, dying his hair blonde and borrowing his name off a coffee can, were checking out the Jon Cryer 1986 vehicle..."Hiding Out."
Andrew Morenski is a successful stockbroker. He’s got a great job, a place with a view, a car to die for and a lot of tasty female prospects. Problem is Andrew and two other fellow workers have unknowingly passed bogus bonds for a notorious mobster awaiting trial. So after one of them ends up dead, Andrew is placed in FBI protective custody until the trial, but ends up coming face to face with his eliminators and narrowly escapes in on piece. Determined to keep a low profile, he heads to his younger cousin Patrick’ place and successfully manages to integrate himself back into the place he thought he had left behind – high school.
What’s most memorable about "Hiding Out," and which was always something that I felt Roger “I like The Player’s Club” Ebert missed when he so easily dismissed the flick back in 1986, is how it crosses the lines of genres all within a single film – but seamlessly. There’s intrigue (the fear of accountants laundering money for the mob!), action (the hitmen after Cryer’s Morenski are serious badasses!), comedy (Cryer gets his name Maxwell Houser off a coffee can!), teen angst (first dates and running for class president – the second time around!) and even some romance (the chemistry between Cryer and the early in her career Annabeth Gish is in full force!) and it’s all told in a quaint, non-politically correct 80’s style that is loaded with charm.
Of course credit must go first and foremost to the relatable Cryer, a truly underrated performer who pulls off both the serious adult and quirky kid roles in a single outing with total ease. Cryer has an undeniable charisma and likeability that makes him a natural for this kind of role and "Hiding Out" is amongst his best work. And Director Bob Giraldi uses everything in his ample arsenal, from Cryer to the inspired soundtrack, to keep the flick intriguing. It’s actually a premise that could have easily been geared towards just one audience of either teens or adults – thankfully it reaches both here.
There’s also some great supporting cast including Keith “Adventures in Babysitting” Coogan as Cryer’s high-spirited cousin (and the comic relief here!), Annabeth Gish as the new lady interested in Cryer and especially Oliver Cotton as the surly and focused hitman – all provide good backup to Cryer’s genius.
"Hiding Out" could easily be discarded as a teen comedy that’s plain and pleasant (and certainly was reported as such at the time!), but I say take another look as there are real moments of both dramatic and comedic nuance here you might have missed. And remember Roger and gang, just because the subject matter within a movie is light doesn't mean that subject should be taken lightly – greats like Cryer just make it look easy.