by Lawrence Kasdan
Sarah: For all the fond memories I have of this movie, they’re collectively rather vague. I clearly remember two scenes: the one with the scarf and the sword, and the one where she’s got a tin foil hat on. So this will be an interesting rewatch to see if my fond romantic memories of what probably amounts of 2 minutes of screen time match the full feature-length film however many years later.
Carrie: I have to confess that I have never had any desire to watch this movie.
Elyse: I have sooo many childhood memories about this movie. It will be interesting to see if it holds up. Back when this movie came out the dreamiest dudes were: Kevin Costner, Patrick Swayze and Mel Gibson. This movie featured at many sleepovers. RIP Patrick. Costner still holds up. Fuck you, Mel.
RHG: I have not seen this movie since the early 90s, and boy, do those titles and the style take me back. I feel like I’m not experiencing this correctly by watching it on streaming and not VHS.
Carrie: Also I miss Whitney.
Sarah: She does imperious very well. And she’s surrounded by chaos. Have fun with that, Frank.
Carrie: I see that someone watched some Steve McQueen to prep for this. And some Michael Keaton.
Sarah: TWENTY FIVE.
I just looked it up. THIS MOVIE IS TWENTY FIVE YEARS OLD. WOW.
Carrie: Hey, according to IMBD, Costner said he based his performance on McQueen (you, sir, are no McQueen). So I was right!
Sarah: I remain shocked that I can remember things from that many years ago and yet forget things that happened a few minutes ago. My brain is a weird place.
The gunshot opening scared the hell out of me. And the cat.
Elyse: Cue Elyse jumping because she didn’t remember there was a silent opening and then gunshots.
I forgot Rachel’s sister knits!
Sarah: The opening is a little noir. He’s a sensitive man in tight pants who cooks and reads and eats out of the stainless steel pot, and leaves his knives in the grass.
Elyse: Ah yes the “someone broke in and masturbated on the bed” scene. Many sleepover giggles were had.
Carrie: May we pause for a moment to contemplate Client #1’s ponytail.
RHG: EARLY 90S DUDE PONYTAIL
Carrie: That business with the intercom was great.
Sarah: HE DRIVES AN EL CAMINO. Why my brain didn’t hold on to THAT piece of info I do NOT know. “The front is like a car and the back is like a truck….”
Carrie: People always forget that kids have ears.
Sarah: And hey, adorable young dude. There’s Frank’s reason for working. Why is that little dude alone by the pool?! Children + pool + quiet is NOT OK. Oh, great, nanny reading a magazine. That’s not much better.
Carrie: I like that Frank cares about the chauffeur when everyone else is all “whatever”. I think I ship them.
RHG: “Maybe a tough guy?”
“This is my disguise.”
HA. Look, I do not blame Frank for wanting to tap out of this shit right away. It’s a hot mess.
SECURITY UPGRADE MONTAGE. I like how Frank takes Henry the driver under his wing. I remember thinking the evasive driving lessons were BADASS, and I WAS RIGHT.
Carrie: I miss music videos but my God that “Run to You” video is heinous.
Sarah: I don’t believe entirely that Stoic Frank would be emotionally moved by her music video but what do I know?
I have to ask y’all. Did you have the soundtrack? I’m pretty sure I did. Oh, yeah, I definitely did. I remember all the words to the songs, including “Queen of the Night.” Wow, brain, you do hold on to weird things. Nice job.
Elyse: I may be downloading the soundtrack to this movie tonight.
RHG: Other hilarious memories from the 1993 Oscars: Two songs were nominated, and Whitney performed them as a medley. I remember Billy Crystal introducing them as “‘Run to You’ and “I Have Nothing.”
Carrie: CAPE ALERT!
Elyse: The concert scene is what I remember the most. Whitney in a cape. ROCKING A FUCKING CAPE.
The scene where she drops the cape and is wearing her techno-metal outfit holds up to all my memories.
Carrie: It’s so weird that she’s all, “Someone sent me a nasty letter? What? How could that possibly be?” Even pre-internet people got those letters. In the age of twitter they seem positively tame. That doesn’t mean it’s not awful, just that her naivete is surprising.
RHG: Hold up, you fuckers, you’re telling her not to get hysterical when she just found out that somebody walked into her house. You really think that’s a good idea?
Carrie: There’s so much about this movie I don’t get. Have they never had a similar situation with crowds like in the club? How do they usually handle it? That’s not stalker stuff, that’s standard how to manage a concert stuff, and she’s not new, she’s a megastar. So what the hell?
Sarah: How is it she’s that famous and he can take her to random places without her being recognized? Like, because they’re in a country music bar, no one would spot her? That’s very strange.
Elyse: One of the things that’s interesting about this film is how the ideas of wealth and success and celebrity hold up over time. When you compare Rachel’s house to the houses featured in celebrity magazines today (or hell, Johnny Depp’s private island) it doesn’t seem incredibly opulent. Frank makes about $104,000 annually which isn’t anything to sneeze at, but remember, he gets shot at for a living and is the best in his field.
Is this a reflection of an increasingly celebrity-obsessed culture? Conspicuous consumption? I’m not sure.
Sarah: “Politics and showbiz is the same thing these days, Frank.” This was in 1992. Dude.
Elyse: And then comes the scene that launched Elyse’s love of romantic suspense. Frank carries Rachel in his arms to safety.
Carrie: I’m impervious to him carrying her out of the club but him tucking her in is super sweet.
Elyse: Frank tucking Rachel in is the classic romantic suspense flip of “look how gentle I can be when I want to even though I am a hardened bodyguard/ detective/ mob boss/ were-hedgehog MC gang leader.”
Sarah: Ok. Hotel staff would not be cleaning a star’s suite while she’s still in it, especially while she’s sleeping. There’s no way.
Frank eats apples weirdly. Or is that peach? Either way.
RHG: Tony wants to swing his dick around, fine. But a paring knife isn’t balanced for throwing and… you know what, never mind.
Sarah: OK, Frank’s “Did you seriously pull a knife on me” face is my favorite.
RHG: THAT IS GIBBS’ BASEMENT (and aw, she makes sword swooshing noises when she’s playing with the katana WHICH YES IS ACCURATE)
Elyse: “I don’t want to talk about this again.” Because the romantic suspense hero communicates through knife throwing and boning. Is a fact. It has been written.
RHG: I used to like Kevin Costner a LOT. But Frank, my dude, maybe you could get a real spoon? Just one for your sad lonely life? (Also throwing knives works better for me if I hold it by the tip of the blade, not the hilt, but anyway.)
Sarah: Here’s a thing I learned:
This film was originally proposed in the mid-’70s, starring Diana Ross and Steve McQueen, but was rejected as “too controversial”. The film concept was to be attempted again in the late 1970s, with Ryan O’Neal and Diana Ross cast as the leads. The project fell through after only a few months because of irreconcilable differences between O’Neal and Ross, who had been dating.
Carrie: Sy is an asshole but he has a point when he says that Frank has a job to do but so does Rachel.
Aw, Rachel is adorable. How much time did you spend coming up with that approach, Rachel? Cause it’s super cute.
Sarah: And Whitney asking him on a date is so cute.
Carrie: Also their date is super cute.
Sarah: I’m wondering if I’m going to believe the romance. I like how the mystery is built, and I like the angles of the obsessive fan vs. the predatory insider.
Elyse: We have now reached the point in the romantic suspense plot where the heroine realizes that resisting the hero’s protective instincts is futile.
Also Rachel wants to bone Frank. Which is fair. He did carry her offstage in a shower of sparks.
Carrie: I realize that every romance novel in this genre depends on sleeping with the client but it’s a terrible and unethical idea to sleep with the client.
Elyse: I love how they display Frank’s rage by having him literally walk through steam. THANKS MOVIE!
Sarah: Kevin has man feels. And kicks the shit out of someone. Dude. Seriously not cool.
Wow, did that damage my opinion of Frank. My brain didn’t remember that part.
Elyse: The scene where Frank beats up a guy purely because he’s pissed off doesn’t translate well. I don’t remember how I felt about it as a kid, but as an adult it’s upsetting and it makes me like his character a lot less. It’s also super lazy writing.
Carrie: DUDE beating up random restaurant workers is NOT COOL DUDE.
I strongly urge him to press charges.
The sequel: “For Once, The White Guy Does Jail Time”
Elyse: Soooooooo… Frank’s emotional trauma stems from the fact that he was busy burying his mom when the president was shot? Okay…
Sarah: Scarf scene! Yup, still holds up. He illustrates how delicate her life is, how much danger is right in front of her. Subtle and obvious and pretty good tension. I can see the awkwardness between them but I think there’s pretty good chemistry, too.
Elyse: Another romantic suspense trope: hero displays his virility (check out my sword/boner that’s sharp enough to cut a scarf) which immediately seugues into sexytimes.
RHG: Okay, the transition from her singing to the piano at the afterparty was MASTERFUL. Also this is a hell of an Oscar campaign.
Elyse: Back to the money thing: $1000 a plate to see a super famous singer in a private concert?
Carrie: If performers cancelled show dates because of threats no shows would ever happen. I mean, she’s right to cancel them but also this is a speculative fiction version of stardom.
Sarah: I also like how Rachel doesn’t let him decide everything for her, particularly as pertains to their relationship. I might be building more into this film than is there, but there’s a bunch of tensions I find compelling – that he works for her, that he’s supposed to protect her, she’s setting limits with him, he’s setting boundaries for her that she doesn’t like, he’s getting paid a lot of money and struggles with that… there’s a lot going on.
The part where she has a job to do to, that’s kind of the point. There has to be a balance between her doing her job, and setting boundaries.
Carrie: If things are so awful that she’s cancelling concert dates wouldn’t they bring her dog to the cabin too? Stalkers love hurting dogs. Did they just leave the big dog at the mansion? NO ONE BETTER HURT THE DOGGIE!
Sarah: Hold up, is that Chekhov’s toy boat?
Carrie: For a professional Frank knows jack shit about gun safety.
Sarah: Mr. Frank, put a lifejacket on that child. Between water safety and gun safety you’re pretty terribly trained.
RHG: Why doesn’t Fletch know how to swim? There’s, like, multiple pools.
Sarah: Costner really needs a gun safety course. I know dickall about firearms and I know better than than to point a loaded gun at someone’s face as a gesture.
Carrie: Why are we spending all this time on his angst when it’s her sister that got shot?
RHG: So, the “You pay a flat fee, and the hitman goes until the target is dead” isn’t like, the WORST payment model (after all, most targets are going to go down quickly), but you have to think that in the case of Rachel, where it’s taken several attempts, which all involve at least some overhead, there’s a point where he has to go “this is more work than expected, please pony up more cash or I’m not doing it.” Right? At some point your hourly gets REALLY low. You know, for a hitman.
Elyse: I also hate that the sisters are in opposition rather than supportive of each other. I don’t need more women tearing each other down.
Sarah: “You know you’re white!”
I think that chess conversation might be the only reference to race in the whole movie.
That’s just fascinating and kind of incredible then and now. Like, the whole film’s attitude is, “We aren’t acknowledging this facet of the story. Are you? Why?”
Chekhov’s boat indeed.
Carrie: I like the idea of a community of bodyguards. Like they all meet at a bar once or twice a year and bitch about their jobs and how bad their blood pressure has gotten. Not Portman, though because I’m pretty sure he’s the villain.
Sarah: I have a fair amount of respect for the increasing tension, that the hired killer won’t stop, that it’s not over, and she has to keep going, and so does he. They sort of work out their own balance – kind of. Their relationship is largely unresolved.
I also want to say how much I love this woman in gold with hair like hair has rarely haired since the early 90s.
Carrie: Also I ship Frank and Tony. Frank, Tony, and the chauffeur whose name I keep forgetting. I would watch that movie.
RHG: Oh, Debbie! Hi Debbie.
Carrie: Oh dear, hello Debbie Reynolds, we all miss you. I was not prepared.
Elyse: There are so many shiney bolero jackets at the 1992 Oscars…
Sarah: Robert Wuhl! Hosting the Oscar’s! Making sexist jokes! Oh, Lord.
RHG: Ugh, sexist Oscar Host jokes. Ugh. Who do you think you are, Seth MacFarlane?
Elyse: Robert Wuhl is hosting The Oscars?
RHG: Check the envelope! Make sure it’s the right award! (Too soon?)
Carrie: In conclusion I’m super invested in all of the relationships EXCEPT the romantic one. They needed more date time and less mutually douchey and inconsistent behaviour. They don’t have much chemistry except on their date, and that’s mostly because she makes him laugh. Fletcher and Tony and the chauffeur all had more meaningful relationships with Frank than Rachel did.
Sarah: So I had to stop just after Rachel ran off the stage at the Oscars, and come back to the movie the next morning, which gave me a lot of time to think whether it was working for me. With one glaring, inexcusable exception, this is totally working for me. There’s a mystery. There’s Kevin Costner, who seems to think he’s in a noir movie. There’s Whitney Houston, who seems to be embracing the idea that she’s in a romance. The two of them already have enough conflict through the plot and their respective characters, so the additional “what genre are we in?” conflict really works for me.
The exception: Farmer loses control of himself and beats the shit out of some poor dude (in the credits as “Cuban Husband” played by Joseph Hess) who was having a smoke. The idea that this other man is the disposable outlet for Frank’s manpain and feelings of loss of control really makes me angry. Like, How do we show up upset Frank is since Kevin Costner doesn’t move his face a whole lot? Let’s have him use the considerable deadly force of his training against some dude having a smoke. He’s perfectly in control of himself, aware of how much damage he can do to another person, and then he’s not – because of Rachel – and… surely there were better ways to demonstrate that turmoil.
The major elements are totally working for me. The storytelling decisions in that scene do not. Elyse is totally right – it’s lazy.
Elyse: And once again a woman is expected to be embarrassed for “inconveniencing” others over concerns for her safety.
Sarah: Also, a question: if the assassin of stupid was the one hired by her sister, who jacked off and left a note on the bed? The blonde obsessive guy? That’s kind of a crime, too, right?
OK, a note on the ending from teenage Sarah watching this movie: the scarf and glasses at the end? I thought that was the absolute height of glamourous. Ridiculous levels of chic. I’ll be honest, though, that plane looks kinda crappy.
Can there be a sequel about Fletcher, please?
RHG: One last song before parting forever.
Sarah: Also: seeing Whitney’s face saying goodbye to Frank is making my eyes sting.
And then the Casablanca ending – I was totally sniffing a little except they move their heads around a LOT while kissing. WHAT THE HELL.
Elyse: And on to the bittersweet ending. I think they kept it fairly ambiguous as to whether they wind up together and I’m okay with that. (My husband says they are definitely not together but I disagree. He’s just in IA working, ok?!)
RHG: Ending on the freeze frame is a bit much, movie.
Carrie: I did like how well Whitney conveyed that 90% of her life is performance – not just the onstage parts but dealing with her team, the public, other professionals, etc etc. I know people will say that she’s just playing herself, but she was so good at turning that “Benevolent Star” smile on and off.
Sarah: Does this hold up for me? Yes, for the most part. The demonstration of Frank’s fractured emotions through inexcusable violence is terrible. The ways in which the genres Costner and Houston are playing plus the plot conflicts was a lot of my catnip, even if their acting, particularly Costner, didn’t give me much to work with. Actually, now that I say so, I’m wrong – he’s so blank I can embellish a lot onto his performance.
Also: I want a remake of this movie with Rihanna in the lead. As I said in a text conversation, she’d act with one eyebrow and win an Oscar. Not sure who should play the Costner role, but Rihanna would be brilliant in a remake. I’ve already written a good third of the script. With all my (zero nonexistent) screenwriting experience.
My grade: B+.
RHG: Does this hold up? I don’t…. Think so? I got kinda bored there in the middle. And it’s one of those things that especially now, the amount of work that went into those letters is completely unrelatable. Not when you can just make a Twitter bot.
Elyse: I’d give the movie a B.
RHG: But Whitney is at her best here, and she wasn’t even 30. So what have I been doing with MY life?
Did you watch The Bodyguard along with us? What’d you think? Are you a fan of the scarf & sunglasses pairing?