Transmissions to Earth Presents:
FAST SOFA (2001)
Review by L.L. Soares
Feeling much more like a movie from the 1980s, the flick FAST SOFA (2001) features Jake Busey (son of Gary, and also in such movies as IDENTITY, 2003, STARTSHIP TROOPERS, 1997, and the upcoming THE PREDATOR reboot, slated for 2018), as Rick Jeffers, a cocky idiot who doesn’t want to find a job, but who wants to live a life full of adventure. When we first see him, he’s making love to his girlfriend, Tamara Jenson (the always excellent Natasha Lyonne, also in AMERICAN PIE and BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER, both in 1999) while on the bedroom’s television set, porn actress Ginger Quail (Jennifer Tilly) is being tied up and fondled.
During the day, Rick hangs out with his buddy, Jack Weis (Adam Goldberg, also in DAZED AND CONFUSED, 1993, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, 1998, and ZODIAC, 2007), and looks for ways to make money while doing minimal work. Rick’s latest “job” is selling a bag full of ecstasy.
Rick and Jack go to a bar, where they see Ginger Quail for real, playing a song on the juke box. She’s Rick’s favorite porn star, and he has to say something to her, so he follows her outside and does his best to seduce her. This seems kind of goofy at first, but then his lines actually start working, and Ginger, impressed with his confidence, invites him back to her place. Rick jumps into her fancy sports car, and off they go.
That night, Rick was supposed to pick up Tamara from her job at a Mexican restaurant after work, especially since it’s a crappy neighborhood, but he never shows up. She calls Jack instead and he picks her up on his motorcycle.
Meanwhile, Rick is having sex (as well as drinking champagne and doing coke) with his fantasy woman. Ginger seems to like him and suggests he meet up with her at her Palm Springs hotel while she’s there on a film shoot. Rick says he’ll try, and leaves fairly triumphant.
Rick goes back to Tamara the next morning, and immediately tells her everything that happened, with child-like glee, as if he thinks that admitting he had sex with a porn star would impress her and justify his not giving her a ride home. “It was hilarious,” he tells her. Instead, Tamara gets furious and breaks up with him. She then hooks up with Jack, and Rick sort of stalks them, watching them from his car, for a day or so until he decides to just hit the road, intent on meeting up with Ginger again.
Along the way, Rick meets the painfully awkward Jules Langdon (the terrific cult actor Crispin Glover, also in BACK TO THE FUTURE, 1985, RIVER’S EDGE, 1985, and WILLARD, 2003), a sheltered rich boy in a suit, who is obsessed with birds and who has just been mugged by some gang members (when the thugs drive away, their license plate reads “Fast Sofa,” and that’s the only time I saw the movie’s title addressed in the movie itself).
As Jules tries to strike up a conversation (and beg for some money to buy food and a ride home), Rick at first makes fun of him and refuses to help, but then slowly feels sympathy for the guy, and lets him tag along. The two strike up an odd friendship as the road trip continues. At a bowling alley (where the house band is the L.A. hardcore punk band Fear—how cool is that!—and they play a couple of songs), Rick meets up with a girl playing video games named Tracy (Bijou Phillips), who admits to being 16, but they go out to his car anyway. Her brother and some goons show up to beat Rick up, and he then adds revenge (in a crazy scene involving a crossbow later on) to his “to do” list.
Crispin Glover, who was the main reason I sought this movie out, plays his typical socially awkward man-child, weirdo/virgin character, and while he’s good at it, varying from sad to funny to creepy, he’s played these kinds of characters before. He convinces Rick to help him track down the red-tailed hawk from the bird sanctuary that Jules’ parents used to run, now caged in a pet shop, which involves another side trip, and Rick also takes Jules to a strip joint where he finally loses his virginity to a sweet dancer named April (Tina Marie Clifford).
When Rick finally does find Ginger again, he also meets her sadistic, gun-toting husband/pimp, Robinson, played by Eric Roberts, who had played a porn star’s abusive boyfriend previously in 1983’s Dorothy Stratten biopic STAR 80.
The movie is pretty much a mix of goofy comedy and drama, until the last half hour or so, when things turn a bit sinister. In this way, it reminded me a bit of the movies of the 1970s, a time period I love.
Director Salome Breziner keeps the anarchic vibe going throughout. She also co-wrote the screenplay (with Peter Chase and Bruce Craven, based on Craven’s novel). Breziner had previously directed a few movies like TOLLBOOTH (1994) and AN OCCASIONAL HELL (1996). After making FAST SOFA in 2001, she didn’t direct a movie again until 2013, when she made THE SECRET LIVES OF DORKS (and then HELICOPTER MOM in 2014, starring Nia Vardalo). She has a couple of movies in pre-production now, but she really should have had a bigger career. And I wish she’d made more movies like this one.
As I popped in the DVD, I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, so I was surprised at how good it is, especially Jake Busey as the lead character, Rick. Who knew he was such a good actor? With his long blond hair and cavalier attitude, Busey owns this movie, and gives us a character who should come off as a complete idiot, but who stays pretty cool throughout, even when he gets beat up a few times. What Busey’s performance reminded me of most was the persona of comedian T.J. Miller, who’s currently on the HBO series SILICON VALLEY, as well as the movie DEADPOOL, where he plays Ryan Reynolds’ wise-cracking friend. I liked Busey so much in this one, that it actually made me reevaluate what I thought of him as an actor, and made me wish all the more they’d made a sequel to FAST SOFA, with the further adventures of Rick Jeffers.
Glover plays his typical quirky role, but he adds to the whole strange feel of the movie. I like Natasha Lyonne and Adam Goldberg a lot, but after Rick leaves town, the movie forgets about them. Jennifer Tilly, who I think is also underappreciated, is a lot of fun as the porn star Ginger Quail, and she actually has some good chemistry with Busey. She was also in such movies as the excellent BOUND (1996), by the Wachowskis; Woody Allen’s BULLETS OVER BROADWAY (1994), and BRIDE OF CHUCKY (1998), where she played herself as well as an evil doll of herself.
With a great soundtrack that includes, along with those Fear songs, music by bands like the Flesheaters and the Melvins, the whole thing has a crazy REPO MAN-like vibe to it, and I’m really surprised this movie isn’t better known. It certainly deserves a cult audience. I really enjoyed it.
© Copyright 2017 by L.L. Soares