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She’s a Hoo-, Um, Looker

We had another cheeseball ’80s movie night recently with Michael Chricton’s 1981 thriller Looker. It’s always interesting to watch this futuristic stuff and analyze what they got right or wrong. The story opens with the mysterious deaths of several beautiful young models who are clients of plastic surgeon Albert Finney. The police are on Finney’s tail, but it’s after getting together with the stressed yet strangely poised Susan Dey that the truth is uncovered — the deaths are part of a shady plan hatched by James Coburn’s media conglomerate to replace live actors with sophisticated computerized counterparts. Chricton’s script took a hard look at advertising, image manipulation and the prevalence of computers at a time when all three were just starting to converge. It’s meant to be thought provoking, but the combination of quaint technology and gaping plot holes make the film more of a curio than anything else. At climax, the weirdly miscast Finney gets chased around various TV commercial sets by a gun slinging meanie who looks like the twin of Will Farrell in Anchorman. Now that’s entertainment.

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