Teen star Corey Haim treks to the Great White North for OH, WHAT A NIGHT, a pleasant but undistinguished coming-of-age tale set in rural Ontario during the 1950s.
Haim plays Eric who lives out in the country with his widowed father, Thorvald (Keir Dullea), and stepmother, Eva (Genevieve Bujold). Still coming to terms with the death of his mother, Eric keeps a diary addressed to her in which he mainly chronicles his growing interest in girls. When not
horsing around with his best pal Donald (Andrew Miller), himself coming to terms with his mother's imminent death from cancer, Eric gets "worldly" advice from friendly gas station owner Mr. Todd (Robbie Coltrane), mainly from his collection of pornographic novels--available for sale or leisurely
perusal. More and more, however, Eric's time has been spent keeping vigil by a stream near his father's farm where the sexy, common-law farm wife next door, Vera (Barbara Williams), indulges in a daily nude swim accompanied by her young daughters.
Having struck up a friendly, playfully flirtatious relationship with Eric, Vera is at first shocked when she discovers his voyeuristic outpost, a trench he has dug lined with pinups and littered with cigarette butts. But instead of "exposing" him, she instead arrives at the stream the next day,
sans daughters, and puts on a show for his benefit. When she later steps up the flirtation by sensually feeding him raspberries in a field while her abusive, hard-drinking husband dozes close by, Eric screws up his courage to pay her a visit one evening while her husband is out. Their moment of
bliss in Vera's hayloft is cut short by the unexpected return of her husband, who abandons Vera the next day, leading her to move on as well.
On the plus side, OH, WHAT A NIGHT benefits from the able performances of its extremely likable cast under Eric Till's easygoing, unfussy direction accented by Brian Hebb's lush cinematography. Haim (LUCAS, LICENSE TO DRIVE) effectively counterpoints youthful rambunctiousness with a courtly
politeness opposite Williams's sweet earthiness. The spirit of laid-back likability extends through the cast, even to the normally scene-chewing Coltrane (MONA LISA, THE POPE MUST DIET!). But the unceasing mellowness also results in a lack of substance that prevents the film from being anything
Richard Nielsen's screenplay seems to bend over backwards to avoid anything resembling dramatic conflict, especially between Eric and his stepmother. By Eric's account, Eva keeps him on an exceedingly short leash. What's odd about this is that Bujold (CHOOSE ME, DEAD RINGER), surprisingly, is
barely in the film and when she is she barely has any dialogue. While Till seems generally surefooted in his treatment of Canadian rural life, OH, WHAT A NIGHT could generally have benefitted from a stronger sense of day-to-day life beyond the few asides and truncated scenes that create curiosity
without quenching it.
Instead, the film's focus sharpens as it goes on to the "main event," Eric's deflowering, which, albeit sweetly and tastefully handled, most viewers will find predictable, even those unfamiliar with similar films from SUMMER OF '42 to THE GRADUATE. OH, WHAT A NIGHT is far from the worst of its
kind, but it could have used a little less mellow and a little more meat. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Teen star Corey Haim treks to the Great White North for OH, WHAT A NIGHT, a pleasant but undistinguished coming-of-age tale set in rural Ontario during the 1950s. Haim plays Eric who lives out in the country with his widowed father, Thorvald (Keir Dullea)… (more)