Mike Nichols directs Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Spader in this werewolf movie where a mild mannered executive regains his animal instincts at work and in the bedroom after being bitten by a wild animal.
If you approach Wolf as a horror movie then you aren’t going to get a lot out of it. There is gore, peril and minimalist Rick Baker transformation FX work. Basically he bangs on some mutton chops and contact lenses to the top billed and lets them lope about with their mouths half open. It is no An American Werewolf In London, and was never intended to be. This has more sophisticated and more old fashioned intentions. Watching stars act and interact over a generous two hours. And you can’t do that if everyone spends six deadening hours a day in the prosthetics trailer get slapped up. The main hook ain’t watching Nicholson rampage through a moonlit Central Park… it is watching him go from sad sack to Jack’s back! The thrill of witnessing an A-Lister rope a-dope us into relishing him rediscovering all his old hammy tics and wild eyed cool. Want to see Jack flirt outrageously with Pfeiffer? They have a surprisingly electric chemistry considering the May to December age difference. Like Cruise, she’s always better when paired off against a New Hollywood elder statesman. Want to see Jack kick a hostile takeover in to touch and piss on a deliciously slimy James Spader’s disloyal suede shoes in the process? He gets there, he delivers. You leap a little out of your seat and punch the air when the wolf’s bite reinvigorates his predatory instincts with such puckish mischief. The pace is majestic, again a little clunky if you just want a full fat horror… but if you’ve come from an astute old school drama where the supernatural elements are there as a plot catalyst rather than the main thrust then you’ll have tons of fun. Approach it maturely as a work from the director of The Graduate and Working Girl and you’ll know what exquisite pleasures you are letting yourself in for. An underrated ominous score from Ennio Morricone stirs the emotions. Christopher Plummer, Kate Nelligan and Om Puri round out the ensemble with a touch of prestige.
Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/