Chevy Plays Hide n Seek
Dress it up as much as you like with a touch of film noir style narration and come comedy "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" is a movie about one thing, the special effects of creating a believable invisible man. From the opening scene which sees him chewing gum to a final chase scene pretty much everything is about wowing the audience with the special effects. And there is no denying that for the early 90s the special effects are special, from chewing gum to the way rain defines the invisible man's face but sadly that it is all it ends up, a special effects show case with a storyline and humour which often falters.
Nick Halloway (Chevy Chase - Christmas Vacation) is an ordinary sort of guy; he works hard, goes to the club and makes out with Alice Monroe (Daryl Hannah - Steel Magnolias) who his best friend George (Michael McKean) introduces to him. But Nick's world is turned upside down when an accident at a laboratory leaves him invisible and dealing with all the hazards it brings with it. But it also makes him a wanted man as CIA Agent David Jenkins (Sam Neill - Enigma) wants him to become their invisible assassin and if he can't have him he will make sure he is dead so no one else can.
You could say that "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" is a very dressed up movie, by that I mean that we have a film noir style narration as Nick Halloway basically tells us how he got in to the mess of being invisible. And with it starring Chevy Chase it is punctuated by moments of humour, some about the hazards of being invisible others more comical which with a romantic subplot also have an element of sexual innuendo about them. But take away the dressing and the actual storyline is quite mundane, as we have Nicky becoming invisible due an accident in a laboratory and he has to go on the run because he is now a valuable commodity for the CIA who are desperate to get their hands on him. Whilst the dressing up of this simple storyline goes someway to disguise it's simplicity it does have the knock on effect of making things boring when we are not being treated to some special effects.
Talking of the special effects it is very clear from the opening scenes that "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" is going to be a movie which tries to wow you with tricks as we get the chewing gum moment. And to be fair the special effects considering this is a product of the early 90s are very good and at times imaginative such as when Nick eats some food and can see it entering his stomach or the way the laboratory appears to have half disappeared after the explosion. And there are some nice touches as well such as the rain shows up the shape of his face or when he smokes and the smoke does the same thing, it is clever use of the technology. But sadly by the time we have had yet another moment of humour based on the hazard of being invisible you do begin to want for something more.
Now for me one thing they do right is the mix of us being able to see Nick and then not being able to see him and I know many disagree with me over this. But here is the thing with the comedy talent of Chevy Chase as Nick the last thing you want is just his voice delivering lines because it is his visual comedy which often ends up being the most amusing. And to be honest it would have been a huge waist of talent just to have him appear at the start and then just voice Nick when he becomes invisible.
And frankly Chevy Chase is the best thing when it comes to the performances as whilst Daryl Hannah is beautiful and sexy, it is a role which could have been played by anyone it is such a flat character. And whilst Sam Neill does his best to make CIA Agent David Jenkins an evil nemesis it is again a very flat character for the immensely talented Neill to work with.
What this all boils down to is that "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" is entertaining and the special effects are impressive for its age but no matter how much humour or dressing up the story has, it does end up a movie all about the special effects.