The Cool Surface (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Scoop's notes


I've been trying to give a balanced appraisal of these failed films from the 80s and 90s, but it would be a stretch to come up with a second good thing about this film.

The first, of course, is easy -  a young, ripe Teri Hatcher took off her top in two scenes.

The basic storyline here had some potential. A socially inept writer has been in seclusion, working on his masterpiece for years. He is told by his agent that the manuscript is brilliant, but totally unmarketable. The writer is sent back out to write something that people will actually pay to read. But what? He finds his inspiration in the apartment next door, where his actress neighbor is having constant rows with her lover. The neighbor's arguments get so violent that the writer finally screws up his courage and bursts in on them gallantly - only to find out that the "lover" is just another actor rehearsing a scene with her. The writer is mortified at having made a total fool of himself, but after due consideration determines that he finally has an anecdote worth repeating. He ends up having a wild affair with the sexy, drop-dead-gorgeous actress, and puts almost every word of their bedroom talk into his new novel. The book turns out to be a real potboiler, and his agent is so thrilled with it that he is able to sell it to Hollywood as a movie treatment.

The actress/girlfriend, of course, figures out that she would be pretty damned good in the lead role since the entire story is about her life. She goes after the role, and gets it.

Up until that point, The Cool Surface had been merely mediocre. It was an erotic thriller with mild, listless erotica and no thrills, but it was not a complete write-off. Teri Hatcher was tres sexy, and it was kind of interesting to see Robert Patrick playing a nerdy writer with long hair and granny glasses, looking for all the world like John Lennon. After the girlfriend is cast to play herself, however, the script just wanders off into all sorts of surreal directions. It suddenly develops a bunch of thrills, albeit bizarre ones, but the plotline is virtually incoherent, and none of the characters' motivations seem to make sense. For some reason, the writer is really pissed off that his actress/girlfriend wants to play the part of the actress/girlfriend in the movie (I never did understand why) and he goes totally ballistic. He starts throwing tantrums, beating his girlfriend up, assaulting her friends, drinking too much, and writing a sequel to show what a monster she is. Meanwhile, she keeps saying, "What? I love you. I haven't hurt you in any way. Things are great between us. Why are you doing this?" He doesn't have any explanation. His irrational behavior is as irritating and inexplicable to the audience as to the girlfriend, and that alone is close to a deal-breaker, but the straw that breaks the camel's back is that the script starts mixing up the scenes which he imagines in his sequel novel with the things which are happening in reality, to the point where nothing seems real, even though some things are supposed to be.


I guess.

Anyway, the second half of this movie is incoherent and completely irritating. The ending is a surprise, but a very unpleasant one. To make matters worse, Teri Hatcher leaves her clothes on during the entire second half. After the first 45 minutes I got so bored with this movie that I could only struggle through it by taking breaks every ten minutes, and even then I kept saying out loud, to no one in particular, "God, this sucks."



  • Bare-bones. No features, no widescreen.



Teri Hatcher shows her breasts in two scenes.

Tuna's notes

When I was in the Navy, one of my shipmates shared a love letter to his sweetheart that he was very proud of. The highlight of the piece was the immortal line, "I love you so fucking much I could shit." We helped with some minor rewrites, but I suspect we should have left it in his style, which couldn't have been a surprise to his sweetie. I've often wondered what happened to that guy, and I think I've found him -  he must have penned the screenplay for The Cool Surface.

Robert Patrick plays a wannabe writer who, after the suspicious death of his girlfriend, went off to write. He completed a novel, which, although well written, was nothing that anyone would want to read. He was told to write something more commercial. Fortunately, his inspiration came from the bungalow across from his, where Teri Hatcher seemed to be in an abusive relationship. He finally busted in and rearranged the man's face - only to find that they were both actors rehearsing a play.

Eventually he and Hatcher became an item, and Patrick finally wrote his new novel based on her, and what happened between the two of them. His novel was picked up immediately for a film, whereupon Hatcher auditioned for, and got the lead, essentially playing herself. This terminally upset Patrick, who seemed to feel violated by her.

Why did he feel this way?

Nobody who has written about this film seems to have any idea.

In theory, The Cool Surface is supposed to be a thriller, so the story meanders on to the thrilling ending, but if you pay attention to the flashback of his dead girlfriend, who took an overdose of pills but was found with a knife in her chest, the surprise ending will not be much of a surprise.

I was unable to find anything positive in the film, nor could I find anyone else who had. Oh, the acting is fine, the photography is OK (although nothing special), the set design is adequate, and Teri Hatcher's breasts are fine. All of this, however, is nowhere near enough to compensate for a bad story written badly.

The Critics Vote ...

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "Call it a D. The first half, when the plot still made sense and Teri Hatcher was topless, could be called a C-, I suppose. The second half is a dreadful E-. It is very, very difficult to slog through the last 30 minutes of this film. The stuff that is happening seems crazy and unmotivated to begin with, and it is not possible to determine what is real and what is part of his follow-up novel. Furthermore, the characters are both unlikable and uninteresting, and exist merely to service the contrivances of the plot." Tuna adds, "Scoop's D is generous, and is based entirely on the first act, which did feature A-list breasts, and made sense, at least compared to the rest of the film. Frankly, I was completely turned off by the stilted dialogue in the very first moments of the film, and see it is a low D- or worse."

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