Thief of Hearts So Bad It’s Good.
By Leigh Wood
Do gooder thief with a past Scott Muller (Steven Bauer) thinks he’s made the score- only to find a bunch of diaries in his hot safe instead of author Ray Davis’ (John Getz) millions. Scott decides to read the juicy journals, finding the fantasies and kinky hidden desires of interior decorator and lonely housewife Mickey (Barbara Williams) within. Scott quickly becomes obsessed with the books and a lifted portrait of Mickey; he misses theft jobs with Buddy (David Caruso) as a result- eventually making him a wanted man when a heist goes wrong. Nevertheless, Scott plays the legitimate businessman as he woos Mickey into redesigning his apartment, appearing to be just an innocent charmer who knows what makes Mickey tick- from the sexuality of water and Rum Raisin ice cream to her favorite radio station and political affiliation, oh yes.
Yeah. I saw parts of this preposterously kinky 1984 romance believe it or not produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI, The Amazing Race, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, the list goes on…) off and on years ago on television as a kid- you know, exactly when I wasn’t supposed to see it! It’s taken this long- just short of forever it feels like- to find it again. Fortunately, all the cheesy eighties juice remains in the best guilty pleasure fashion. Writer and director Douglas Day Stewart (An Officer and a Gentleman) mistakenly creates what he thinks is every chick’s fantasy- to be roughed up by a criminal who isn’t really that bad of a guy and maybe even ends up a changed man because of you! While I’m not saying that isn’t a perfectly good fantasy indulgence- this movie makes a wonderful case for letting your mind roam, indeed. But spoiler alert, the romantic elements are totally unrealistic against the criminal aspects of the film and the reality of such a dangerous and deceptive relationship. What chick is okay with this? Honestly, a hood literally bumps into a rich housewife at the grocery store and the over the top seduction goes on from there. Thief of Hearts would have the audience believe this is a good thing- but is it really? This blooming and blossoming sexual experience is wrapped in deceit, trading one possessive guy for another, and if you think about it too much, it’s all a little too weird. Toss in the mixed attempt of heavy eighties crime and danger with the iffy housewife romance, and the double fantasy just doesn’t work. The running jokes about Mickey’s horny friend and design partner Janie (a lovely Christine Ebersole, SNL) living dirty and liking her brand nasty is also much more about the guy’s idea of a woman liking it rough more than the reality of the roughness. Hmph.
Unfortunately for Thief of Hearts, this unbalanced bias creates quite a problem. Even with the fictitious ideas of women and would be dangerous heist action, this movie isn’t a drooling guys’ picture. Unless men really have a secret spot for eighties sappy would-be soft core, ‘I know he’s reading them. I can feel him.’ Really, despite a man’s man name like Bruckheimer probably trying to disassociate himself from Thief of Hearts, one of intelligence from either sex doesn’t openly admit to watching this kind of film. Again, it doesn’t mean we don’t- the sauce is the reason to watch- but the pre-huge erotica market purple film prose here is flawed and suffice to say, not for dudes. However, having said all that, the uneven presentation doesn’t stop one from watching solely for that sauce. Especially today, since Thief of Hearts is wrapped up in a guilty pleasure eighties bow complete with ridiculous music cues indicating an untouched desire fulfilled! Just in case we missed the slow motion feel up steamy at the shooting range (again, dudes thinking a chick with a gun is some power turn on), before the over the top dialogue moves to the smashingly Duran Duran decorated bedroom. Yes, this is a shitty movie, but the sex scenes are sweet, and who knew a 1984 film would be spot on in predicting six years as a long marriage? So what if the goofy music is unnecessary just like the touchy feely that kind of borders on molestation. Taking a gal’s bra off at the gun shop? Why yes, go right ahead! It’s so bad its good and the actual getting down scenes are both laughable and damn decent juice. Strangely, though, there doesn’t seem to be as many quickies as I recalled. Thief of Hearts is just that memorable in its cheese, but the %$@#$$^&* DVD is edited!
Hey, don’t knock it, Steven Bauer (Scarface, Sword of Gideon, Raising Cain) was the quintessential eighties Latin hunk trying not to be a Latin hunk (Estaban Echevarria just wasn’t Hollywood enough?) who just couldn’t help being the sauciest Latino around nonetheless. Being married to Melanie Griffith for a few years helped, too. Looking back, his career is an interesting sign of the time. Bauer was the only real Cuban deal in Scarface, but had to appear American typical to continue being successful- even if his brief success was because of the exotic style. Go figure. Resplendently, Thief of Hearts provides plenty of opportunity for Bauer to box, sweat, and otherwise get down and nude. Amen. Just to show us what kind of guy Scott really is, there’s even some sex with a conscious before all the adulterous stuff with Mickey. Otherwise, Bauer doesn’t have much else to do beyond ‘unnecessary’ finger lickings, up close smiles, shirtless scenes, and a be-scored, slow motion sun tan lotion rub down all over his thick, eighties hairy chest! It’s hysterical; really, this hour and a half should have just been cut down to the juice. Otherwise, the mind must enter in and ruin it. We like Scott because of all the dreamy eighties manness, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is kind of predatory behavior. So he didn’t have a negative motive to start- that doesn’t mean his elaborate ruse and runaway plans with Mickey are okay. The violent and threatening reveal of the journal theft is also very poorly handled. Again, is this every woman’s dream or a crime? We want to be along for the dream, but as Thief of Hearts unravels for its end, one has to ask, what’s the moral here? Mickey must be with her boring husband Ray and avoid good sex? But she should learn how to use a gun just in case? Scott cries over it, that makes it all okay? Thief of Hearts can indeed be enjoyed…if you don’t think too hard and just look- or heck, press mute.
Barbara Williams (Who didn’t really do much else but marry Tom Hayden) also carries the eighties torch perfectly with tiny boobs and career woman business suits. She looks both young and eighties as the supposedly rockin’ pent up housewife oozing for a cruising, and yet also so old and eighties limp satin bowtie blouses and big shoulder pads at the same time. Mickey’s budding sensuality would be sexy, if not for the stupidity of taking hot sex over her suspicions and fears. She’s a little too mousy at times, and not so stunning as we expect today to warrant all this attention, but as I said, it was the eighties. Forgive us! Time, however, has remained unchanged for David Caruso (NYPD Blue, CSI: Miami) as valet and thief with an attitude, Buddy- yes, that’s his name. My gosh, his hair was as Opie orange as it is now! He’s playing himself, of course the same as always, and yet he’s so fitting as a creepy drug dealer and lady pusher trying to slink his way to the top. Unfortunately, his supposedly dangerous and toy knife wielding self is totally hysterical! John Getz (Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead) doesn’t have as much screen time but fits the bill absolutely as the jerky, uninterested husband who writes children’s books. And hey, it’s Alan North from Highlander, and Norm Peterson- er, I mean, George Wendt!
Naturally, Thief of Hearts is dated in looks and design. The bad music- both the heavy stuff for the heists and sappy stuff, too- is pretty annoying. And let’s not forget that obligatory eighties titular theme song! Woof! The heist scenes are too dark as well, and lame, too, with no fancy stealing schemes or designs. The stuff being stolen is totally eighties crappy, too. You know, all the contemporary mod junk that sent everyone back to eclectic and traditional stylings. The bad perms and Miami Vice colors don’t help, either. I do, however, confess, I laughed over seeing people stop to make change at the tollbooth! The house and loft are cool at least, and the old school Bug and Mercedes roadster are sweet! Remember, Thief of Hearts is Rated R for that aforementioned steamy, and this poor man’s 9 ½ Weeks is truly only for adults or those old enough to appreciate the juicy and goofy old mess that accompanies it.
The topless bits and #$#%^# edited scenes might be tame to some, but there are a few almost glimpses of male nudity, in Thief of Hearts, too. I would say go ahead and content yourself with your freeze frame, but one shouldn’t mess further with this bare bones and skipping DVD! This video was dang elusive, too, no sellers available, unavailable on Netflix fore eve rrr, pfft. At least there were subtitles, but their irony of shortening the written ‘S.O.B’ when it is said in full just about sums up the bipolar film nature here. Enjoy the saucy, laugh at the eighties, try not to think too much and indulge your Thief of Hearts.