Retro: The Unquiet American


Joe Dante
USA 1993
99 min

John Goodman stars as “the screen’s number one shock expert” and ballyhoo specialist, Lawrence Woolsey (affectionately based on William Castle), who turns up in Key West in 1962 to present a ­preview of his latest horror B-film, <![CDATA[<i>]]>Mant<![CDATA[</i>]]>, about a man transformed by radiation into a giant ant. This highly enjoyable and provocative teenage comedy, set ­during the Cuban missile crisis, was directed by Joe Dante (<![CDATA[<i>]]>Gremlins<![CDATA[</i>]]>, <![CDATA[<i>]]>Innerspace<![CDATA[</i>]]>) and written by Dante regular Charlie Haas and Jerico, who all have a lot of fun cooking up the black-and-white Mant and other period absurdities, especially those provoked by war fever. They’re also pretty adroit in suggesting some of the absurdities of the early 1990s (Woolsey’s scare ­tactics are a somewhat more benign version of the government’s, and the movie cleverly exploits the parallels for all they’re worth). With Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton (an English teenager who does an astonishing job of sounding American), Omri Katz, Kellie Martin, Lisa Jakub, and a number of enjoyable character actors including Jesse White, John Sayles, and Dick Miller.

  • Naomi Watts - Lesley
  • John Goodman - Roland Turner
  • Cathy Moriarty - Joan White
  • Simon Fenton
  • Dick Miller
  • John Sayles
  • Kevin McCarthy
Michael Finnell
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