Heart Condition

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • R
  • Comedy, Crime

Too often, movies tackle social issues and make you wish they hadn't. A case in point is this lame crime comedy (from the producer of the forgettable SOUL MAN) that is almost made watchable by the chemistry between its two stars, Bob Hoskins and Denzel Washington, who spend most of the film fighting an uphill battle against a awful script. Los Angeles cop...read more

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Too often, movies tackle social issues and make you wish they hadn't. A case in point is this lame crime comedy (from the producer of the forgettable SOUL MAN) that is almost made watchable by the chemistry between its two stars, Bob Hoskins and Denzel Washington, who spend most of the

film fighting an uphill battle against a awful script. Los Angeles cop Jack Moony (Hoskins) and dapper lawyer Napoleon Stone (Washington) are forced to see the world through each other's eyes when Moony receives Stone's heart in a transplant operation. Prior to the operation, both lead dangerous

lives: Moony boozes while on duty, chasing grease-dripping burgers with cans of beer and swigs of bourbon; Stone provides legal services for the high-priced hookers controlled by Graham (Jeffrey Meek), an evil pimp. In the elaborate setup, Crystal (Chloe Webb), a hooker once involved with Moony

and now involved with Stone, takes photos of a session between a crusading politician and fellow hooker Peisha (Eva LaRue). Conveniently, the politician also smokes a crack pipe for the camera. But inconveniently for Crystal, the politician drops dead of an overdose. While her pimp cleans up the

mess, Crystal and Peisha slip away with Stone's help. In no time, however, Moony, who hates Stone for having stolen Crystal from him, is in pursuit of the lawyer, chasing him on foot through Westwood. Although Moony catches Stone, the lawyer is released and the cop is brought up on harassment

charges. What's more, the chase leaves the out-of-shape Moony a candidate for the emergency room, and when he gets home, he collapses with a heart attack. Stone, on the other hand, doesn't even make it back home, becoming the victim of a car accident rigged by Graham to remove him as a witness to

the politician's death. When the dying cop and the dead lawyer arrive at the hospital at virtually the same time, the former needs a heart and the latter has one to give. Back at work, Moony is given less strenuous desk duty by his precinct captain (Roger E. Mosley). However, since we are only

about a reel into the film at this point, the story obviously isn't over. Ignoring his doctor's orders, Moony heads for his favorite burger joint, but as he prepares to commit suicide with beef and brew, Stone appears, returning from the spirit world to prod the cop into solving his murder. Stone

also undertakes a makeover of Moony, transforming the incorrigible slob into a stylish character so that he can move more easily in Graham's world. But, of course, what we're really talking about here is male bonding with a message: Moony must overcome his racial prejudice in order to work with

Stone to save Crystal.

Notwithstanding its strong performances, HEART CONDITION is a disaster. As a plea for racial harmony, the film fails completely, offering nothing in the way of motivation for Moony's change of heart. Instead of raising the racist cop's consciousness, Stone leads Moony to a cache of cash that

allows him to buy new suits and a car to impress Crystal. Moreover, Stone is saddled with ridiculous dialog about how Moony is jealous of him because he's slick, wealthy, black, and hung "like a Shetland pony." For most of the film, Crystal is nothing more than a plot device to bring Moony and

Stone together, but late in the proceedings, it is revealed that she has given birth to Stone's son, though apparently the lawyer has no idea how her pregnancy came about. Evidently, writer-director James D. Parriott expects viewers to believe that the stork still brings babies, which is hardly

more farfetched than the notion that a new suit is enough to change the mind of a racist.

It is a mystery how performers of the stature of Hoskins, Washington, and Webb ever became involved in this mess. But if HEART CONDITION is tolerable at all, it is as a result of their presence. Because Moony is the only one who can see Stone when he returns as a spirit, Hoskins is often forced to

act opposite a void when the camera point of view isn't Moony's, a feat not unlike the fine British actor's performance in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? As he did in that film, Hoskins brings off this tricky bit of acting with great panache, leading to some of the film's funniest scenes. Providing a

"cool" foil for the blustering Hoskins, Washington manages to rise above most of the cliches heaped on his character by the script. Similarly, Webb invests her Crystal with more credibility than she deserves, giving a poignant portrayal of a ritzy call girl who hasn't quite left behind her

working-class roots. Indeed, the three actors are good enough together that it is possible to imagine HEART CONDITION as a good movie, were it not for its confused attempt at social commentary and its weak, implausible plot. (Profanity, adult situations, violence.)

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Too often, movies tackle social issues and make you wish they hadn't. A case in point is this lame crime comedy (from the producer of the forgettable SOUL MAN) that is almost made watchable by the chemistry between its two stars, Bob Hoskins and Denzel Was… (more)

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