The Last Word (1995) from Tuna

The Last Word is billed as sort of a romance/crime thriller, and while those are elements in the story, it is really more about ethical choices made by a fledgling screen writer played by Timothy Hutton. He plays a journalist working in Detroit, specializing in tales of shady underworld characters introduced to him by his childhood friend (Joe Pantoliano).  He has just published a collection of these stories in a book. His marriage is basically over, although they just have yet to make it official, when Hutton meets a stripper (Michelle Burke), and decides he has to write her story. After he publishes it, the two become an item, but she eventually decides that she is not comfortable with having story published after all. Seems she has a dark past. We will find it is much darker than even Hutton suspected.

Joey Pants is into the mob for 100 large, so he secures a deal for his friend to write a screenplay in Hollywood, which hopes will get him out of debt, and give them both a golden future. The two friends head for Tinseltown with Burke in tow. The studio, it seems, was especially enamored of the stripper story, and insists that it be included in the screen play. Hutton resists because of Burke's change of heart, but his discussions lead him to discover more about Burke's background.

That gets the ball rolling, and I will leave the rest of the plot for you to discover.

Act One did a passable job at setting up the plot and introducing the characters. Act Three contained some very powerful and surprising revelations. The problem with the script was Act Two, which basically consisted of Hutton's inner struggle. While this was necessary to the plot, it was very slow going. Had they upped the nudity and sex content in the middle section, or added some action, it might have gotten around the problem. The acting is fine, and the payoff is nearly worth the time investment, if you are able to stay awake through the center of the film. If you decide to try this relatively obscure film, I suggest keeping the remote close for some fast forwarding around the halfway point.



  • This box set contains Underworld (1997, 86 min., Starring: Denis Leary, Joe Mantegna & Annabella Sciorra), The Last Word (1994, 94 min., Timothy Hutton & Joe Pantoliano), Capone (1989, 97 min., Starring: Keith Carradine & Roy Sharkey), and Deadfall (1993, 99 min., Starring: Michael Biehn, Nicolas Cage & James Coburn)
  • Featurettes on Deadfall and Underworld


Burke shows breasts and buns in her strip act, and is naked, but with crossed arms and carefully staged positions in a sex scene.

Brittany McCrena, as "massage girl," shows breasts in a sex scene with Hutton.

Two unknown strippers also show breasts.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

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, this is a D+. It had a solid beginning, a solid finish, and some good acting, but put me to sleep in the middle of the film.

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