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1 review, 5 user ratings

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Shock to the System, A (1990)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Overlooked Caine classic."
5 stars

A brilliantly modulated, witty and nasty black comedy with Michael Caine as Graham Marshall, an outwardly friendly but cold-hearted New York ad man who simply eliminates the people in his life who inconvenience him.

The third-person narration (spoken by Caine) has the tone of a children's fairy tale ("He felt that he was losing his magic"), and the movie does play like a Grimm story updated. Sensing that he's got a plum role, Caine plays it to malicious perfection. We fear for the smug little yuppie (Peter Riegert) who's snagged the promotion Graham wanted even as we're rooting for Graham to do him in.

It's Caine's show, but other performers — Swoosie Kurtz as Graham's perpetually disappointed wife, Elizabeth McGovern as his smart, sensual lover, and John McMartin (looking as though he'd stepped out of a Howard Chaykin drawing) as a weary, bitter corporate veteran whose time has passed — are also given room to sparkle.

With no graphic violence or sex, no cheap commercial hooks, and absolutely no respect for niceness, this is a dazzling valentine to moviegoers who've been beaten down again and again by the cloying, grab-you-by-the-lapels conventions of Hollywood — a true adult film.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5982&reviewer=416
originally posted: 04/11/07 21:49:00
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User Comments

11/06/05 Agent Sands The fact and the reason why this film was not a hit are total bullshit!! 4 stars
3/04/03 JesseL Jenny Wright shines 4 stars
9/11/02 y2mckay Funniest thing Caine's done in a while. McGoveren always hot 4 stars
7/07/02 Jim Outstanding black comedy, Caine is a great anti-hero. Bibbity bobbity boom! 5 stars
7/07/02 Charles Tatum Underrated; Caine is at his most slimy! 4 stars
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  23-Mar-1990 (R)



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