Clean Slate Blu-ray Review
Everyone has their favorites, but of the dream Saturday Night Live cast of the early/mid 90’s, I think the most talented of the bunch was Dana Carvey. He may not have had the bust-your-gut humor of Chris Farley, the likeability of Adam Sandler or the quick wit of Chris Rock, but Carvey had the talent. Unfortunately, due to an illness early post-SNL, his career never took off and he only had three movies where he was the lead actor, one of which was the 1994 comedy CLEAN SLATE.
Like his other films, CLEAN SLATE is not the best example of how great Dana Carvey is. His perfect blend of comedy, wit, cutting-edge humor and timing don’t translate well in his films, at least not as well as they do in some of his SNL sketches or his stand-up comedy. But the problem with CLEAN SLATE isn’t so much Carvey as it is the subject matter. Carvey plays Maurice, a private investigator that suffers from a condition that causes him to lose his memory whenever he goes to sleep for the night. To stay on top of things, he records a message for himself that he listens to when he first wakes up. We catch up with him listening to one of these messages and we learn that he’s investigating a robbery and to make things worse, he’s the key witness in a murder trial of a connected mobster.
90’s comedy queen Valeria Golino plays his love interest in the film and I remember Carvey going around the talk show circuits when the film came out proclaiming that Valeria can’t say anything without being sexy. That’s both funny and true and at times, it hurts her as an actress because it’s hard to take her seriously. Thankfully, she knew that, which is why she starred in movies like this and HOT SHOTS. We also get some nice supporting turns from the criminally underrated Kevin Pollack and the always great James Earl Jones.
But the movie struggles because it constantly struggles between what it should be and what it’s trying to be. It’s trying desperately to be a comedy and with a one-eyed dog that runs into things, you might think it is. But the subject matter is way too serious for its own good and I imagine Christopher Nolan watched this in the mid 90’s and thought to himself that he could make a better film with the same basic premise and call it a drama. Of course, he did that with the 2000 film MEMENTO, which is very similar but obviously much darker. CLEAN SLATE is pretty dark too since Maurice is trying to testify against the man that just murdered his girlfriend.
When I’m trying to convince someone of Dana Carvey’s greatness, I never reach into his movie resume for proof. CLEAN SLATE is a good example why. It’s not that it’s a bad film, it’s just a forgettable one that doesn’t really work.
Video: This is another Olive Films release and this is about as good as the film is ever going to look.
Audio: The audio was fine.
There are no special features included on this disc