Murray Langston hit upon a successful stand-up act many years ago when he donned a brown paper bag and performed as The Unknown Comic. That was cute. Unfortunately, Langston's quest for a follow up has led him into making feature films like WISHFUL THINKING, bad enough that viewers may
also want to hide their heads inside brown paper bags.
Michael Moore (Murray Langston) is a neurotic scriptwriter and, since his girl left him, lonely guy. He saves an impish little man (the legendary Billy Barty) from harassment by punks and, because "writing is a magical profession," the scruffy scribe is rewarded with a supernatural
notepad--anything he scrawls on it will come true. Then Michael catches sight of pretty bank teller Diane Jacobs (Michelle Johnson), so he jots a desire for her to enter his life. That wish is fulfilled by roundabout means; they're both kidnapped repeatedly by stereotyped yahoo bank robbers.
Michael's miraculous paper product saves them, but when he tells this to his greedy sister Jody (Ruth Buzzi) she schemes to get Michael declared crazy so she can seize his share of the family fortune. The end result is an interminable courtroom climax, with faithful Diane the only one who believes
Michael's tale about the little man and the pad. Michael finally proves his sanity to expert-witness psychiatrists by bringing about numerous wonders with his dwindling notepad pages, such as an impromptu visit from the Pope.
It's tempting to remark that filmmaker Langston couldn't direct his way out of a paper bag. The atrocious performances here are matched by terrible post-synced dialogue that makes everyone seem overdubbed. An awful script (co-written by Langston) frequently resorts to toilet humor, with urine
apparently considered as a sure-fire laugh-getter, though in an abrupt outburst of social activism the characters in court take the opportunity to recite the text of an anti-animal-vivisection law. Too bad trendy concern for animal rights doesn't extend to the human performers, since some comedy
stalwarts end up looking like turkeys, among them Buzzi, Kip Adotta and Charlie Brill. Famed boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, meanwhile, cameos as one of the bank robbers. The curvaceous Michelle Johnson is supposed to be the ultimate male fantasy, a girl who's sexy, affectionate and smart; score
her two out of three. Justice may have found its hero competent, but for WISHFUL THINKING, a comedy about a notepad, the critical verdict is: back to the drawing board. (Profanity, nudity, sexual situations, violence.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: Murray Langston hit upon a successful stand-up act many years ago when he donned a brown paper bag and performed as The Unknown Comic. That was cute. Unfortunately, Langston's quest for a follow up has led him into making feature films like WISHFUL THINKIN… (more)