Spirit In The Sky in…Miami? (Miami Blues, 1990)

A random message board post about Miami movies convinced me to see Miami Blues, which at the time was still available on Tubi. Alec Baldwin plays a man who gets out of jail, lands in Miami and proceeds to go on a massive crime spree. This is as entertaining as it sounds, however the film oddly has this glowing heart of gold at it’s center due to the tender relationship between Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who starts out as a prostitute yet is able to quit due to Baldwin’s Junior.

Mixed up in all this is Fred Ward’s tired police detective trying to nab Junior. Ward is talented enough to endow the character with a likable personality so that even though he’s chasing after the charismatic Junior you still want him to succeed. One of the dark yet funny moments is Junior stealing poor Hoke’s false teeth and his gun after ambushing him. In any other movie this would be either too bleak or too silly, yet in Miami Blues it works quite well.

George Armitage manages to craft a film that is really funny and delightful even though it has many bleaker scenes and an underlying mean streak. Much of that rests on Baldwin, however Leigh’s Susie is so adorably trusting that she gives the movie a nicer element that sometimes dulls the film’s edge. This isn’t a bad thing, and I’m not sure if Armitage should have crossed some more lines to make the film have more bite.

Still I rather liked Miami Blues a lot, and the film sticks out in my mind even if I didn’t give it more than a 9/10. There’s even a moment that could have been really goofy and yet thanks to Ward and Leigh it manages to linger in a bittersweet way. More crime movies could learn a thing or two from this one, perhaps.

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