Movie Review: The Informers
The Charlotte Observer
Thanks to Brett Easton Ellis, nobody can ever tell you “You had to be there” when talking about the '80s. Ellis lets us re-live those halcyon days of cheap coke, “Miami Vice” fashions and the rise of AIDS. Occasionally, some fool gets the idea that his literary wretched excess would make for a good film.
“The Informers” is another “Less than Zero”-style riff on those years, only this time it's a period piece. In Ellis' universe, the '80s were one big “Love Shack.” Everybody's grooving. Everybody's high. Everybody's bisexual.
Well, everybody who matters, namely the scion of the rich and studio-connected in LA. Graham (Jon Foster) is caught up in this whirl. Graham has lots of great sex with his girlfriend (Amber Heard). Martin (Austin Nichols), who directs music videos, sleeps and snorts with them both. Graham's studio-exec dad (Billy Bob Thornton) is leaving his TV anchor girlfriend (Winona Ryder) to get back with Graham's drunken mom (Kim Basinger). No wonder this college boy is confused.
“I need something more than this,” Graham confesses. “I need someone to tell me what is good and tell me what is bad.”
Let's see: Coke? “Bad.” Unprotected sex? “Bad.”
An English rocker (Mel Raido) staggers from concerts to hotel rooms with underage girls and boys. Graham's pal, bi-curious Tim (Lou Taylor Pucci), vacations with his skirt-chasing drunk of a dad (Chris Isaak) who tries to man the boy up. And, in an unrelated story, desk clerk Jack (Brad Renfro) is in a pickle when his underworld uncle (Mickey Rourke) shows up and kidnaps a small boy.
It's a terrible muddle unless you take it as a satire on the Age of Ellis, the Jacqueline Susann for that Flock of Seagulls era. That way, the unintentional laughs seem almost ironic.
The author of “American Psycho” may have something to say about that epoch, but director Gregor Jordan (Ellis co-wrote the script) has concocted a brew so retro that you find yourself asking “Where's Andrew McCarthy?” Jordan (“Buffalo Soldiers”) wallows in it all, treating himself to as many shots of a topless Amber Heard as he can manage. The Aussie Jordan didn't exactly miss the '80s; he just missed out on them in LA. Recreating them for “The Informers,” he misses them again – by a mile.