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RIVER PHOENIX stars as Jimmy Reardon, a young man on the threshold of adulthood, ready for anything but too young to consider the consequences, in "A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON," a rambunctious comedy from Island Pictures, written and directed by William Richert.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
A young man on the threshold of adulthood, living a life of carefree, pre-college exuberance, is abruptly forced to confront two of life's most awful truths: responsibility and commitment. At the same time, he must come to grips with his hard-working, self-satisfied, pillar-of-virtue father whose way of thinking seems so different from his -- or is it?
River Phoenix ("Stand By Me," "The Mosquito Coast") stars as the irrepressible, not-as-clever-as-he-thinks Jimmy Reardon -- ready for anything but too young to consider the consequences, moral or otherwise, in the rambunctious, affecting Island Pictures comedy "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon." The film also stars Meredith Salenger ("The Journey of Natty Gann"), Louanne, Matthew Perry and Ione Skye ("River's Edge") as affluent, precocious teenagers. Co-starring as the adults are Ann Magnuson ("Making Mr. Right"), playing a seductive divorcee and Jane Hallaren and Paul Koslo as Jimmy's bane-of-his-existence parents.
"A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon" was written and directed by William Richert, best known for his critically admired first feature, "Winter Kills," a mordant political thriller starring Jeff Bridges and John Huston as warring son and father. "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon" is based on Richert's youthful novel Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye? Russell Schwartz is the producer. Richard Prince is the co-producer. Mel Klein serves as executive producer.
The film's story is told by Jimmy himself, looking back on the turning points in his adolescent life. Director-screenwriter Richert has set the action on 1962 at the tail-end of the beatnik era and just prior to the waves of social unrest and protest that would characterize the mid- and latter portions of the decade.
Jimmy's touching, comical tale unfolds in a frenetic 36-hour day. His upwardly mobile family has recently moved into a modest home on the fringes of the ritzy Chicago suburb of Evanston, and he has already made himself known to its affluent sons and daughters -- and their wary fathers and mothers. Among them are Lisa (Meredith Salenger), rich, aloof, desiring him but remaining at arm's length; Fred (Matthew L. Perry), always looking to Jimmy for life's non-academic experiences; Suzie (Louanne), an endearing know-it-all and smartest of the group; and Denise (Ione Skye), Fred's girlfriend, who has sample much more of Jimmy on Saturday afternoons than Fred will ever know.
Jimmy's parents (Paul Koslo and Jane Hallaran) don't quite know what to do with their precocious son, unlike neighbor Joyce Fickett (Ann Magnuson), a lonely, yet lively divorcee, who doesn't let her age stand in the way of very much.
Life is running pretty smoothly -- a con here, a hustle there -- until Jimmy's dad demands that he attend his alma mater, McKinley College, a roaringly dull business school. Jimmy's girl, Lisa, is going to college in Hawaii, while his other friends are preparing to set off for a variety of Ivy League universities. Seeing his life playing out as a repeat of his father's, Jimmy panics, rebels, and becomes a very bad boy....
A comedy with bite and feeling, "Jimmy Reardon" is in the tradition of such American movie tales of youthful defiance as "Risky Business" and "The Graduate." But the subject, the perils of adolescence and the rocky road to maturity, has universal resonance in literature and the cinema. In films, such memorable examples as "The 400 Blows," "Peppermint Soda" and "Loves of a Blond" attest to the eternal fascination that the subject has for filmmakers the world over.
Jimmy himself is the latest in a long line of youthful rogues that include characters from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens right through to Phillip Roth and J. D. Salinger. Jimmy's cinematic antecedents include unabashed con artists like Addie in "Paper Moon" and the title characters in "Alfie" and "Tom Jones."
River Phoenix, sixteen years old when the film was made, was remarkable in his two previous starring roles, as a poor kid in "Stand By Me" and a beleaguered son opposite Harrison Ford in "The Mosquito Coast." The intelligent young actor saw "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon" as a departure for him both personally and professionally:
"I created an outline of his whole past so his actions would be understandable -- Jimmy is more manipulative than I am, and bolder with women. Actually, this is the first movie in which I've done any kind of love scene, or comedy. I feel almost guilty getting paid!
"It's not the stereotypical 'coming of age' film, because it's all seen through Jimmy's poetic point of view, and it doesn't really have a happy ending -- nor should it. Jimmy ends up with nothing and nobody. He took a wrong turn somewhere along the line. Still, we care about him because we know his intentions are beautiful. He wants to go to Hawaii and live in paradise. Everybody wants that."