Once upon a time there was a place called 1991 and it started out in a much different world than it ended up in. It started out on the fumes of the Regan Era, Gulf War I, Hair Metal and the last moments of the Cold War. By the end of the year we were on the cusp of a new day, the Boomers would soon take the White House, the USSR would become a historical oddity and Grunge music would storm the charts.
It was also the year that I graduated High School, I ran off to a little university in the middle of nowhere and traded one reality that I didn’t fit into for another… oh and it was also the year that a surprisingly entertaining indie sex comedy was released.
Pyrates is the story of Ari (Kevin Bacon) a photographer and Sam (Kyra Sedgwick) a musician. They meet and fall into lust, and when they get down things get flammable, scenes from the film In Old Chicago play and next thing you know the fire department shows up. It’s the old story of boy meets girl, they have sex, there’s fire, boy looses girl, ect. What makes a standard set up like this succeed is the story telling behind it.
Pyrates is a film that partly works. There are a lot of nice touches, a lot of moments that can be looked back upon as the element that were going to pop up in a lot of the indie Rom Coms of the 90s, and it’s a film that is firmly planted in that moment at the start of the 90s, Ari even says early on in the film “Love, lust, this is enough to get me though the 90s!” There are chapter titles between sections of the film, a hip out there art world and contemporary music can be heard, and there is just the hint that what is to come ins a new world under pinning the film
Sometimes there are little scenes that are more interesting than the film as a whole, and while some of the dialog is inspired some of it is dull. For every zingy exchange like Ari telling his roommate “She had visions” and his room mate saying “Who did you fuck, Joan of Ark?” or Sedgwick unloading on a date, calling him yuppie scum who give’s her generation a bad name; there is plenty of flat dialog. There are also a number of contrived scenes that really don’t live up to the ones that sparkle. In the end it’s the ones that sparkle that make Pyrates worth seeking out. On that I really liked the scene where Sam calls Ari on the phone and asks what books are next to his bed… the answer:
Latest Fantastic Four
The Total Film Actor by Jerry Lewis
T.S. Elliot Old Possum’s book of practical cats
Mad Lib’s 124
Bacon and Sedgwick have been married since the late 80’s and have two kids the last of which was born shortly after Pyrates was released they have also appeared together in: Murder in the First, The Woodsman and Loverboy. Strangely the chemistry between them in this film is kinda flat, and when you compare it to the chemistry between Sedgwick and Campbell Scott in Singles from the same time, you’d never believe that Bacon and Sedgwick could be a real couple. When you think of it that way, it’s the films biggest failing. All in all, if you get the chance, it is worth a look.
Next: Pink Nights