Modern Problems (1981)
July 24, 2019 3:13 PM - Subscribe

Jealous, harried air traffic controller Max Fielder, recently dumped by his girlfriend, comes into contact with nuclear waste and acquires telekinetic abilities. He uses his new powers not only win her back, but to get a little revenge.

Brian Doyle Murray plays a wheelchair bound vet who is involved with Max's ex-wife. Dabney Coleman is a therapist who advocates aggressiveness, and Nell Carter plays a housekeeper from Port-Au-Prince.

The film was intended to be a satire of multiple movies including Love Story and Carrie. It was not well received, and today most of the reference material is unfamiliar to audiences. It is perhaps worth it to watch Chevy Chase snort an epic line of "blouffer dust" like cocaine.
posted by miss-lapin (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One of my friends was actually one of the writers of the film and admits it hasn't aged well. I still find it fun for the grim opening scene of air traffic control in NY.

The cast plays kind of their stock characters-Coleman is the 80s asshole who is actually fragile, Carter as the no nonsense housekeeper (as she is best known for her role in Gimme a Break), and of course Chase who is supposed to be a kind of affable jerk.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is that movie with the rapey telekinetic scene? People get all Stranger Things with their 80s nostalgia, but you'd have to strap me to a chair like Malcolm McDowell with wires on my eyeballs to sit through this one again. I probably saw it 5 or 6 times on cable. (And my family was friends with a family that owned a video store, so I've seen lots of 80's shlock.) If I were going to see a snorts up the nose comedy again it'd probably be Jeykll and Hyde Together Again... but even then, that one hasn't dated very well.

Sorry not sorry I'm having a strange reaction to this old movie.
posted by Catblack at 8:09 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

That's totally fine. I have that response to a lot of 80s movies. Ideas about consent have changed a lot.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:49 PM on July 24, 2019

Was it rapey? I haven't seen this in well over a decade but my recollection is Chase uses his newfound powers to sexually gratify his partner while they're in a totally consensual encounter. Then afterwards is bummed to realize that she was never this into sex with him as a normal unpowered individual, making him feel worse than ever. Which was a pretty deep moment for a goofball fantasy flick.
posted by phearlez at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I've been wanting to do a double feature of this and Doctor Detroit.

Ken Shapiro, the director here, has just one other directing credit: The Groove Tube.
posted by rhizome at 9:39 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I saw this in the theaters as a child too young to understand the drug references. I agree that the telekinetic sex scene was consensual, though I suppose it could still be seen as gross because (IIRC) he had physically left the bed and was gratifying her with his powers while making himself a cup of coffee. To this day I’m a fan of the end credits song by the Tubes.
posted by ejs at 7:42 PM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also I loved Doctor Detroit and hated the Groove Tube
posted by ejs at 7:42 PM on July 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Phearlez that's how I read the scene, but I can also see it being viewed as rapey. After unsatisfying sex with him she turns away and says she doesn't want more intimacy. He ignores what she says and gives her multiple orgasms. I think the idea in the scene is that the orgasms make it consensual, which no it doesn't.

It's one of those scenes from an 80s movie which is very problematic. Knowing one of the writers I get what he was trying to get at, but it didn't age well-which he admits.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:20 AM on August 7, 2019

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