Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

That other 80s-ish Miami cop drama (Guest author contribution by Tracy, the woman, the legend)

(Hey, Joyanna – I’m baaaaack!)

Today I was put on unofficial bed rest. Last month, in an effort to maintain some kind of exercise regiment and do something good for myself, I started running again. This week, in an effort to get me to stop, my ankle fought back by swelling up and developing a nice throbbing sort of pain. So here I sit on the couch, feet propped up, laptop on hand, and a stack of Netflix DVDs screaming for attention.

First I caught up on True Blood by watching the second episode of season 1. Think we’re good there.

Next, I put in a movie that I’ve been simultaneously looking forward to and putting off for a few months now, George Armitage’s 1990 cult favorite, Miami Blues. In spite of the fact that this movie has been around for a couple decades and there is an almost endless supply of clips available on YouTube, this was the first time I’ve seen it and I am therefore approaching it as though it just came out last night.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should also mention that it is an Edgar Wright recommendation, and, as those who know me are well aware, I hang onto Edgar Wright’s every word like a devoted puppy.)


As its title would suggest, Miami Blues is a police drama that is set in the colorful, yet crime-infested city of Miami; fortunately, that’s where the similarities between our movie and certain television shows stop. Alec Baldwin plays Frederick J. Frenger Jr., an ex-con who, upon his release from prison, immediately jumps back into his life of crime. Along the way he murders a Hari Krishna, steals a set of teeth from a police sergeant, Moseley, (played by Fred Ward), and takes up with a naïve, young prostitute (played by a naïve, young Jennifer Jason Leigh). The fun really begins when Junior manages to get his hands on the sergeant’s badge and gun, simultaneously making a mockery of Moseley while engaging in a slightly twisted version of Robin Hood. You can almost see Junior’s gleeful inner child doing the happy dance every time he gets to play cops and robbers his way.

This movie does not have any intense interrogations, thirty-minute long car chases, or big explosions. Instead, there’s a touch of police corruption, some brief sexy times, a bit of gory violence, and a jar of spaghetti sauce used as a weapon, all swept along by way of a loose plot the skims the movie’s surface. It’s also the only early 90s police movie I can think of offhand that includes some nice references to southern cooking, including a recipe for vinegar pie. (Vinegar pie, by the way, sounds disgusting.)

I don’t know; it could be the ibuprofen talking, but I really liked it. Miami Blues doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It swings from tense, violent scenes to something pretty surreal to the downright silly. And it moves quickly, jumping from scene to scene and bringing you along for the ride – a slighty goofy ride, but a fun one nonetheless.

Perhaps all this typing’s making me woozy. Here’s a clip. After you watch it, rent a copy from Netflix, keep the DVD on your coffee table until injury or illness forces you to spend a day on the couch catching up on movies, and then pop it in the player. You’ll feel better in no time.

One Response to “That other 80s-ish Miami cop drama (Guest author contribution by Tracy, the woman, the legend)”

  1. […] geeky cinephile, Tracy Breyfogle, who has contributed to a couple of essays here on this site (click here for a wee sample), told me that The Egyptian Theater was doing a double feature of A Clockwork Orange and Time After […]

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