Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Released: October 10, 1986
Watched: February 11, 2021

[Trying to decipher Jumpin’ Jack Flash’s lyrics]
“I was raised by two lesbians? Come on, Mick. Fuck a duck!”

I thought Jumpin’ Jack Flash was a good vehicle for Whoopi Goldberg. She has a great easy-going energy (even when everything is falling apart around her) that draws your attention to her as everything falls apart around her. It was nice to see a lot of familiar faces: Anne Potts, pre-Seventh Heaven Steven Collins, Jim Belushi, and Carol Kane!

First movie directed by Penny Marshall, who would go on to direct Big, A League of Their Own, The Preacher’s Wife, and Renaissance Man. I always appreciate seeing people’s firsts, to see where they started from before they became big.

Two temporal culture shock moments nearly took me out of the movie:

1) Whoopi tries to break the first code by listening to Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones. She’s listening to the song on cassette and she’s constantly rewinding the tape trying to pick out the words and complaining about how muffled the words are. She finally gives up and buys the sheet music. I’m thinking: “Why can’t she look them up on the cassette insert or on the internet? OH SHIT. She can’t. She literally can’t. Fuck. Is this how people learned the lyrics back in the day? That’s some dedication.” I wonder if this is why lyrics websites are sometimes subtly different from each other — copyright reasons or people just couldn’t agree on what the words were?

2) Whoopi’s work computer randomly starts showing a Russian exercise video every day, and her amused coworkers gathers to watch the video while she fixes the screen. I’m here horrified at the lack of IT security overhead. If that happened today, the company IT would have swarmed in freaking out about hacking attempts, not following security protocol, and potential data breaches; the employee would be penalized, if not fired, for not reporting the incident right away.

I appreciated that they went into an slightly unconventional direction for Whoopi’s romance ending. Throughout the movie, Whoopi talks with “Jack” on the phone and interacts with a temp coworker “Marty” (played by Stephen Collins) in person. She develops an attachment to Jack and they end up together at the end of the movie. We the audience don’t see Jack until the very end when he shows up at her workplace, and he is played by Jonathan Pryce. In other movies with this trope, they usually pick a gorgeous person; I like that they went with someone the average American would consider “unconventionally attractive”. Must be something about Pryce’s voice?

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