Saturday, February 7, 2009


It must be time for a movie review, as I haven't looked at a Key West related movie in quite a while. This summer I mentioned some other movies relating to Key West and the Keys that I checked out: Toll Booth (not the one about the Jewish family in New York), The Rose Tattoo, 92 In The Shade, and Criss Cross. I like Criss Cross and Rose Tattoo best of the lot but for a glimpse of the islands they all bring something to the table. Russkies is a mediocre movie, my wife gave it thumbs up as a sweet little thing and we enjoyed locating the shots, which at the same time tends to wreck the plot.

Watching the kids cycle up Smathers Beach after starting at the old Peninsular marine on Stock Island, via the seaplane basin at Trumbo creates for a convoluted journey, scenic I'm sure but not real. So the brain struggles to enjoy the town as shown and not get wigged out by the locations...

Just like Peninsular Marine on Stock Island, Valladares no longer sells merchandise on Duval Street. Indeed it is now a chain store selling shoes. The many marinas shown in the movie are still there, snap shots of Garrison Bight, Key West Bight and the Galleon all make cameo appearances in the film:

The film was labelled by Netflix as being produced in 2003 which seemed odd but online it is described as produced in 1987 which makes more sense as the plot revolves around the arrival in Key West of three wayward Soviet sailors. Three American lads, led by Joaquin Phoenix (listed in the credits as "Leaf Phoenix" for whatever reason), get caught up in the nefarious Soviet plot to steal a computer (the "device" in the plot) from a Navy base. The lads have a secret hideout on the beach, a dream location for any warrior child, where they read comic books and dream of war: Peter Billingsley on the left made his name as Ralphie in A Christmas Story and I thought he was the scene stealer here with the same huge glasses and impertinent cracks. Stefan DeSalle disappeared from view after this movie, while Whip Hubley who played the lead Russian sailor has appeared in other films including I'm told Top Gun:On the whole the plot was daffy but plausible enough. Neither the "device" nor the traitor who sold it played much of a role in the plot which was really a vehicle to explore friendship and the political divide separating people. The acting was rather wooden I thought and the obligatory bad guys and their guns seemed tacked on for unneeded excitement at sea:

I thought the story would end up in the usual hurricane that seems to be the common plot device for Keys movies but the seas were calm at the end of this flick. Overall it's worth a view for the Keys scenery and the magnificent shots of summer thunderheads which crop up as background from time to time. There are many worse ways to burn an hour and forty minutes than watching this funny little B movie, especially for anyone tired of snow and long dark evenings.