Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) starring Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Collins, John Wood, Carol Kane, Annie Potts, Roscoe Lee Browne, Jonathan Pryce directed by Penny Marshall Movie Review

Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Whoopi Goldberg in Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)

A Spark not a Flash

If you ask people to name a Whoopi Goldberg movie I would guess "Jumpin' Jack Flash" would be in the top 5 especially from those who grew up during the 80s. But the irony is that "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is neither that great or one of Goldberg's greatest performances as she is shackled by a script which leaves her so often isolated. It's not that it isn't funny or that Whoopi gives a dull performance but the writing in "Jumpin' Jack Flash" lets Goldberg down and despite a supporting cast of familiar faces relies too heavily on Goldberg to make set piece gags work.

Terry Dolittle (Whoopi Goldberg - Ghost) whilst no wall flower enjoys her quiet life but that all changes when one day at the bank where she works on the computers she receives a strange electronic message from someone calling himself Jumpin' Jack Flash who says he needs her help. Initially thinking it is a wind up she discovers that Jack is in fact British Intelligence and is in danger, needing Terry's help to try and escape from Russia.

Stephen Collins in Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)

Maybe it is just me but the actual storyline to "Jumpin' Jack Flash" just feels very wrong. Firstly it comes across as another movie from the 80s which puts a civilian in the midst of an espionage adventure which basically means lots of daft set pieces as in this case Terry finds herself in over her head as she sneaks around and avoids being shot. But the way the script has been written leaves Whoopi Goldberg isolated often talking to herself being sat at a computer or on the phone. Now in fairness Goldberg does her best but Goldberg is in my opinion always better when she has someone to bounce off of rather than just acting funny on her own, pulling funny faces to make you laugh.

What this means is that "Jumpin' Jack Flash" ends up a movie of set piece gags from the shredder scene where Terry ends up fighting to keep a shredder from ripping off her dress to another scene featuring Whoopi doing a Diana Ross impersonation. These are funny as are scenes such as those surrounding a Russian fitness broadcast appearing on her computer screen but they feel like set pieces. What this also means is that whilst there are numerous well known faces that appear alongside Whoopi such as Carol Kane and Jon Lovitz they end up as purely background noise.

What this all boils down to is that "Jumpin' Jack Flash" ends up feeling like someone wanted a vehicle to highlight Whoopi Goldberg's comic talents but failed to realise that she works best around people rather than in set pieces on her own. So no matter how funny Whoopi looks in fluffy penguin slippers or having a run in with a shredder it never really works.