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DVD Paused: ELECTRIC DREAMS (MGM, 1984 PG)

May 28, 2008

It’s a fact of life:  computers are everywhere now.  They’re even in your household appliances.  Another fact of life:  there aren’t too many people out there who don’t know about the internet, and having your personal data in cyberspace.  Go back about 25 years, and these would have been radical concepts you might have seen in exhibits at EPCOT Center.  You would also find movies about computers trying to take over everything.  Most of these movies were dramatic in tone, or had enough action to keep you glued to your seat, forgetting that big box of popcorn next to you.  But one of these movies went for laughs and romance, and it boasted a great soundtrack produced by Giorgio Moroder.

That movie was ELECTRIC DREAMS.  DREAMS introduces us to Miles Harding (Lenny von Dohlen).  Miles is an aspiring architect trying to crack the secret of an earthquake-proof building brick.  He’s bright and talented, but unfortunately he has trouble keeping his life organized.  Miles finally invests in a computer that he can connect to his appliances, clock radio, electric toothbrush, etc.  He can also do his banking, and connect his mobile phone to it.  Unfortunately, Miles spills champagne on his computer.  This accident causes his computer to develop a personality.  This new personality becomes Edgar (Bud Cort).  Slowly, but surely and deliberately, Edgar begins to take over Miles’ apartment and his life.

That’s the LEAST of Miles’ problems.  Edgar discovers that Miles has a beautiful violinist for a neighbor just one floor away (Virginia Madsen).  Edgar wants to meet this neighbor, Madeline, because he’s (it’s) fallen in love with her.  Madeline, meanwhile thinks that the music coming from Miles’ apartment is Miles playing music on his computer.  It’s kind of like a Cyrano story.  Miles has the looks, but no talent, and Edgar has the talents, but there is no way for Madeline and Edgar to be together.  Unlike Cyrano, though, Miles and Edgar are not exactly on friendly terms the way that Cyrano and Cristian were.

Apart from the hilarious rivalry between Edgar and Miles, and the budding relationship between Miles and Madeline, what sells this movie is the music.  I mentioned in my MOVIE MUSIC article that I think the entire soundtrack is worth listening to, and I stand by those feelings.  The scene in which Edgar and Madeline first play their music together is exciting to listen to.  Then Culture Club provides two great ballads that help Edgar understand humanity in “The Dream” and “Love is Love”.  And, as I said before, Jeff Lynne and Philip Oakley knock the music soundtrack out of the park with their contributions.  It’s a tough soundtrack to find, but if you can, give it a listen.

I fail to see why MGM won’t release this title.  It’s a fascinating twist on the Cyrano story.  There are some great scenes that feature Miles trying to get his computer to work, and the concept of a computer running the house is no longer a strange concept.  If anything, it’s where we are right now.  OK, so the computer itself looks outdated, as does the hardware, but the same can be said of WARGAMES (also an MGM title released the previous year, with a special edition DVD and direct-to-DVD sequel on the way), and that movie STILL holds up very well.  I say let’s get Edgar out of the box again.

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