You'd have to search far and wide to find a modern-day "screwball" comedy that's as flat, forced, and helplessly amateurish as Who's That Girl? And I'm not just Madonna-bashing here, although her performance is truly grating, when I say that WTG? is one of the very worst flicks of the mid-1980s.
Desperately cribbing from the 1938 comedy classic known as Bringing Up Baby, James Foley's Who's That Girl? probably began its life inside the typewriter of a screenwriter who was hoping to do a modernized version of those classic screwball comedies of the 1930s and '40s.
But somewhere along the way, possibly when the new superstar Madonna got involved, the flick turned out to be a cardboard farce laden with horrible technical merits, outstandingly limp wannabe-banter, and a series of gags so insipid you simply won't believe it. (There's a subplot involving a kidnapped bridal party that's as desperate as it is witless.)
The basic plot is that Nikki Finn (Madonna, here brandishing a Betty Boop-ish mega-squeak that bores into your eardrums like acid) is an ex-con who's out to clear her name. Louden Trott is a stuffy rich lawyer who's engaged to his boss' spoiled daughter, but first has to deliver the brassy ex-con to the train station. And he also has to deliver a giant feline to a fancy client. Wackiness tries to ensue as the nerdy Louden and the "free-spirited" (although some might say "certifiably retarded") Nikki trip all over their combined plot threads.
Likable character actor Griffin Dunne, who probably snagged this gig thanks to his hilariously stressed-out performance in Scorsese's After Hours, seems a little confused and more than a little bored by the proceedings. The actor spits out his lines like he can't wait for someone to yell "cut," well aware that he's not required to be anything more than Madonna's blustery straight-man.
Who's That Girl? was written by Andrew Smith (who'd go on to never write another movie) and Ken Finkleman (yes, the man who gave you Grease 2, Head Office and Airplane 2: The Sequel), and directed by James Foley. This was Foley's third film after Reckless (1984) and At Close Range (1986), and I'd be willing to bet my DVD collection that Mr. Foley was brought in at the very last second to shoot this thing. Also, this patently painful flick marks the first and last time that James Foley would ever tackle comedy. And the reasons why are right up there on the screen.
Video: Anamorphic and "matted" widescreen. Picture quality's decent enough to notice how cheap and chintzy the whole movie looks.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English or French, with optional subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. If you're buying Who's That Girl? solely for the numerous Madonna tunes littering the soundtrack, you'll be satisfied with the audio quality. Too bad about all the dialogue and that Betty Boop voice.
Just the flick's theatrical trailer.
More a vehicle for Madonna's then-burgeoning popularity than a well-crafted and professional-looking movie of any kind, Who's That Girl? is a special kind of awful. And that's also taking into account the fact that Madonna also starred in Shanghai Surprise, Body of Evidence, Dangerous Game, and Swept Away. As a singer and a pop culture icon, I've got no problems whatsoever with Ms. Madonna. As far as movies go, well, that's another story entirely.