Random Encounter (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Non theatrical film about a PR exec caught in a Machiavallian corporate maneuver that produces disastrous consequences - murder.
The young, female PR whiz (Dame Elizabeth Berkley) is about to take over the top position in the company from her beloved mentor when she is involved in a strange incident.

She goes home from a company party with a charming stranger. During their lovemaking, they are surprised by another woman.


The woman and the stranger struggle, the woman gets the upper hand and is about to plunge a very large knife downward when Berkley intervenes, hitting the woman over the head. This turns out to be a drastic intervention, since the woman dies, so Berkley and the stranger conspire to cover up the crime. Our Liz is no master criminal. She runs out of gas in a sleazy neighborhood about a block from where they dump the body and, needless to say, the convenience store clerk remembers a beautiful young woman hanging around a slum at four in the morning in a designer dress, driving a $100,000 car, and letting him keep the change from a fifty dollar bill when he can't change it at that time of night. To top off her master deception, she has a designer license plate P RRRRRR, which the clerk has no trouble recalling for the police investigators.


Oh, did I mention that the dead woman turns out to be the wife of the head of the big client that Berkley is currently pitching? Boy that'll hurt your chances of getting that account, eh? Oh, sorry, Mr Gates, I just bashed in your wife's skull. Now about that Microsoft PR strategy ....

Other stuff I didn't mention (1) that Liz didn't find out her identity until after the newspapers reported it (2) that this woman lives in New York, but came to Chicago just for the purpose of finding Berkley making nice-nice with the mysterious stranger, based on an anonymous phone tip (3) that Berkley has been sending e-mails that she never sent, and failing to receive e-mails sent to her?

What the heck is the deal here? Well, that's the point of the movie, at any rate. You are supposed to be curious, at least.

The execution is not especially good or bad, and the plot twists aren't completely telegraphed, so it isn't a total waste of time if you stumble on it on late night cable, but I don't recommend a special trip to rent it.

The phone tip was a preposterous plot point, by the way. That call was made at 6:00 in the afternoon - long before the caller knew that Berkley would agree to go home with The Stranger. And this stranger guy is not exactly Mr Interesting - "I love to surround myself with beautiful things. I love beautiful women". Oh, yeah, good line. Very impressive. So what made them think that a corporate high-flyer of extremely keen intellect would find this vertically-challenged sleazeball (Berkley is 5'10", and he comes up about to her eyes) to be her kind of guy? Particularly since they made a point of the fact that she never dates at all. Maybe she found out that Tattoo is dead, and she wants to recall those inspired Fantasy Island days with a guy of similar height? Yup, she's just been waiting for a 5'4" guy with this line to come along. Man, maybe I can start picking up beautiful, young, rich women - if I just chop off my legs beneath the knees.

Anyway, the mysterious l'il rascal turns out to be much more, or at least much different, that he originally appeared to be. No taller, though. In fact, I think he keeps shrinking like in that movie where they guy eventually has to fight the spider with the scissors. I don't even remember what happened to him at the end, after they revealed the real villain. Maybe he just shrunk out of sight completely.

By the way, the scriptwriter's two latest projects have been "Growing Up Brady" and "Inside the Osmonds".

God knows why, but one reviewer did a very detailed online summary of this film here, if you are interested.

I do have one lingering question. The lead role called for someone who could handle the corporate board room with casual aplomb, and deliver such lines as "kenny, I need that report on my desk by noon, no excuses" with forceful authority. Get the picture in your mind - a 28 year old woman so intelligent and authoritative that she could be named CEO of a top company, and the role did NOT call for any nudity.

Now you are casting the role in your big office. You press the button to call for your secretary and you say "get me ______ on the phone, I have to have her for this part".

So did Elizabeth Berkley come to your mind as the first casting choice, kinda like Mickey Rourke as St Francis of Assisi, or John Wayne as Ghenghis Khan?

To be fair, while Dame Berkley is not Emma Thompson, she did manage to handle the role without saying "like, totally ... " before every sentence. Although she wasn't all that bad ... I'm still curious .... what made them think of Berkley after they evaluated the script?

DVD info from Amazon.

It's a very dark transfer, not any better than watching on VHS.

No features except a trailer and the usual cheesy bios.

As for La Belle Dame sans Talent, many ask why I call her Dame Berkley.

Well, the queen can knight her favorites and I do mine. Who, I ask, has the more apropo criteria? The queen is always choosing someone for their dignity and acting competence like Dame Helen Hayes. Well, aren't we grand?

Dame Hayes was in stage, screen, TV, and radio for something like 113 years, during which she didn't do one good lapdance. OK, maybe she did do a couple of radio lapdances, but those don't count. You don't have to be naked or even near the dancee, and all the noises are made by a little man rubbing sandpaper blocks together. Is that worthy of Damehood? I think not.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.6, based on very few votes.
My 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. 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.

Based on this description, this film is a C. It is not inspired, but neither is it incompetent. It is a workmanlike thriller with a second tier cast.

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