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MIRACLE MILE (1989) *** ½

I am a complete and utter sucker for a good End of the World movie. And Miracle Mile is a rather awesome one. It has the same kind of “surreal normalcy” feeling that After Hours and Repo Man have. The feeling that what you’re seeing couldn’t possibly happen in a million years; but since it’s played so straight it feels like it just might.

The set-up is terrific. Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham have a nice little first date. They immediately make plans to see each other after her waitressing shift. Edwards oversleeps and misses the date. He arrives at the diner looking for Mare and decides to use a pay phone to call her and explain why he was late. As soon as he hangs up, the phone rings and the person on the other line tells him that nuclear war is imminent and mankind only has about 70 minutes left. Edwards then sets out to find his love and escape LA before the bombs start falling.

The set-up is actually so great that some of the later scenes pale in comparison. For example, Edwards goes through so much to find Winningham and once he finds her, he has a habit of leaving her all alone again. I could see him doing it once, but it happens one too many times to be believable. It just feels contrived.

But that’s okay because Miracle Mile contains one of the ballsiest endings I’ve seen in some time. And the brief scenes of the end-of-the-world shit hitting the fan are extremely well done, given the film’s slim budget. (I particularly loved the tracking shot of Edwards crawling under cars to avoid rampaging looters.) When Miracle Mile is good; it’s REALLY good, so it’s easy to overlook some of its flaws.

Anthony Edwards has never been better. He plays a good Everyman with the right amount of paranoia. Winningham’s role though is pretty much “the girl” character, and we never really see what makes her so special. The supporting cast is excellent. Everyone from Jenette (Aliens) Goldstein to Robert (Robocop) DoQui to Brian (Cobra) Thompson to Denise (Star Trek: The Next Generation) Crosby turns up at one point or another. (Which is kinda cool because that means this movie features the mom from Pet Sematary 1 and the dad from Pet Sematary 2.)

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