"This is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen and a keeper. Michael Keaton's "Billy Blaze", a ne'er-do-well entrepreneur, is hilarious and his antics are fast-paced and manic ("Note to self: CALL STARKIST"). Henry Winkler's metamorphosis from Superwimp into Superman is a relief ("YOU'RE GONNA PLAY TENNIS WITH GOD!") Shelley Long's portrayal of a hooker is great. Cameo includes Clint Howard (Ron Howard's brother) as a dorky high-school kid looking for a prom-night ride for him and his girl in a limo, ANY limo, even the City Morgue's hearse! See it with someone you can laugh with until your sides hurt."
Call Him "Billy Blaze, Idea Man..."
Reviewer | 06/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"How do you make a funny movie using a morgue and prostitution as subject matter? Leave it to screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who put a rollicking script in the hands of director Ron Howard, who ran with it and ended up scoring a minor comedy classic with "Night Shift." Chuck Lumley (Henry Winkler) is in something of a funk; he's been relegated to the night shift at the morgue where he's worked for years, thanks to the nepotism of his boss, who has installed a nephew into Chuck's day shift. Now Chuck has to train the new man, one Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton) a real "idea man" who can't sit still and never seems to quit talking, much to the chagrin of the conservative Chuck, who likes to keep things quiet and simple. When Chuck befriends Belinda (Shelley Long), a neighbor in his apartment who just happens to be a prostitute, Bill gets wind of it and has an idea. Belinda and her friends are in a dangerous business, and they could use some help and protection. Nights at the morgue are slow, and they have a limo at their disposal (Sure, it's a hearse, but slap a sign on the door, and you're in business). Bill convinces Chuck that they could make a fortune as "love brokers," working right out of the morgue. And soon Chuck's life will never be the same. Keaton is absolutely spectacular as Bill ("Call me `Billy Blaze'"), in whom he has created a totally off-the-wall, quirky, uniquely nuanced and endearing character you're never going to forget. He pulls out all the stops and never quits, playing perfectly off of Winkler's reserved and cautious-to-a-fault Chuck, the perfect foil for Bill. The timing between these two is right on the mark, and Howard keeps the pace steady and the laughs coming. Wisely, the story avoids any moralizing or delving into the murky waters of the subject matter; after all, this is a comedy, not "Taxi Driver," and Howard never lets it slip even close to leaving the laugh track. He keeps it light and funny and makes sure the characters are real people; there's no buffoonery or slapstick here, and it keeps the real humor centered and at the heart of the story. Shelley Long, too, adds a nice touch with her spin on Belinda, the hooker with the heart-of-gold. The supporting cast includes Gina Hecht (Charlotte), Pat Corley (Edward), Bobby Di Cicco (Leonard), Nita Talbot (Vivian), Clint Howard (Jefferey) and Joe Spinell (Manetti); and look closely for Kevin Costner as a frat boy in the party scene at the morgue. Howard gets high marks for making "Night Shift" a memorable comedy, and for keeping the dynamic Keaton on track to deliver one of the most singular performances of his career. This is a movie with heart, and most importantly, plenty of laughs. You'll be glad you didn't let this one pass you by."
Work the Night Shift
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 03/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Night Shift was the first major release for recent Academy Award winning director, Ron Howard. For the film's star he recruited his old Happy Days friend, Henry Winkler, to star. In addition to Mr. Winkler, he featured two unknowns, Michael Keaton & Shelley Long to co-star. The film centers around Chuck (Mr. Winkler) as real pushover, who works the night shift at a New York City morgue. Nothing in Chuck's life is going right, his finance is a demanding shrew, he gets bumped from the day shift to the night shift as his supervisor's young nephew takes the preferred time slot, he never gets the right sandwich he orders and his neighbor's dog chases him down the hall everyday. His new neighbor, Belinda (Ms. Long), is perfectly lovely, but she turns out to be a hooker. His new partner, Bill Blazejowski (Mr. Keaton), is a loud mouthed, pushing "idea" man, who is always coming up with one harebrained scheme after another. Chuck secretly falls in love with Belinda and when her pimp is killed and she is beaten up by a customer, Chuck gives into Bill's idea to become Belinda and her friend's pimps and operate out of the morgue. Mr. Winkler is very funny playing against his Fonzie role, but Mr. Keaton steals the entire film. He explodes off the screen as the manic Bill and just about every line he utters is hysterical. The film made him a star and he kept up the funny roles until Batman. Mr. Howard does a superb job helming the film as it is perfectly paced with virtual no dead spots. The film's closing credits feature Rod Stewart singing the original version of "That's What Friends Are For" which of course, a few years later, would become a huge hit for Dionne Warwick and Friends."
Paul Gretschel | Long Island, NY | 07/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"one of the funniest movies I've ever seen..a true comedy classic..a Ron Howard film with Michael Keaton, et al. Richard Belzer plays a tough, non-comedic role. Some classic lines like: "nice frame". I highly recommend this film. Although it's over 20 years old, it's still funny."
Ron Howard's Best (and Most Quotable) Comedy
A. Fultz | Santa Barbara, CA, USA | 05/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This early Ron Howard effort is somewhat forgotten in the aftermath of his big-budget hits that have come in the last decade. That is too bad, because this is probably Howard's best comedy and it is one of the funniest movies you will ever see. The story centers on Chuck Lumley (played by Henry Winkler), a nebbish who works at the city morgue after leaving his high powered finance job due to stress. Chuck is a loser who cannot face up to any kind of bully, including his fiance. After being relegated to the night shift, Chuck is teamed with a morgue new-comer, Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton at his maniacal best). Bill, who likes to be called Billy Blaze, is "an idea man". When Chuck's prostitute next-door neighbor (Shelly Long) loses her pimp, Bill's new idea is to use the morgue to run a call-girl ring. Doesn't sound funny? Well, trust me, it is hilarious. Keaton steals the show with his over-the-top performance. His high-energy comedy is the perfect contrast to Winkler's nerdy Chuck. Winkler, in a departure at the time from his Happy Days role as the Fonze, is also dryly funny. The supporting cast (most of whom made their mark on t.v., not movies) is also fantastic. The prostitutes, lead by Long, combine looks and humor. Richard Belzer (Homocide), Pat Corley (Murphy Brown), Gina Hecht (Mork and Mindy) and Derek Munoz (Freaks and Geeks) are among those who provide memorable moments in small roles. Clint Howard as usual has a role in his brother's film and is very funny as a loser who employees the services of Chuck and Bill. And, as a previous reviewer noted, this movie is ripe with great, quotable movie lines. Those who love to quote movies to friends will find rich material here.This DVD is priced low, and would make a great addition to any collection. This is a very funny movie from Ron Howard's early career. Get a copy of this one."