All Over the Place 

Directed by Tamar Simon Hoffs

Starring Susanna Hoffs, Joan Cusack, Dedee Pfeiffer

Released May 1st, 1987

Rated PG-13

Susanna Hoffs, known for her musical work with The Bangles and Matthew Sweet, is the lead in The Allnighter, a strange curio bursting with 1980s slang and fashion. If this film was made now and set in 1987, I would say it was overdoing the 80’s wardrobe and vernacular, but it was really made back then! A gnarly time capsule, dude. 

Val (Dedee Pfeiffer), Gina (Joan Cusack), and Molly (Hoffs) are young people celebrating their last day of college at a bonfire fiesta on the beach. Val worries that her boyfriend isn’t ‘the one,’ Gina is more comfortable filming everything with her camcorder than participating in anything, and Molly is unsure about her future in general. It’s interesting to see Joan Cusack in such an early role, and she’s not bad. While Hoffs was the supposed box office draw, the standout is Dedee Pfeiffer. She brings so much personality to her character that it makes me want to check out her other work.

It’s neat to see Todd Field, Max Perlich, Meshach Taylor, and Pam Grier (!) in small supporting roles, and I got a big kick out of the performance by Michael Ontkean, best known as Twin Peaks Sheriff Harry S. Truman. Ontkean plays Mickey, an older gentleman who used to be in a regionally popular rock band. But more importantly, he wears a pink shirt with a blue blazer, sports an earring, and breaks out into the 1980s Belinda Carlisle dance that everyone did back then. It’s great. 

As fun as it is to gawk at the fashions and cringe at the slang, this is not a good movie. The dialogue is abysmal. The script is lackluster. The performances mostly subpar. I can’t recommend watching this unless you miss the 1980s and are a Susanna Hoffs superfan. Unfortunately, Hoffs has precious little screen presence. It was wise of her to focus on music instead of acting. The film’s poster depicts Hoffs in a graduation robe that’s flying open to reveal she’s wearing a bikini. This does not happen in the film. She does, however, dance seductively in front of a mirror in her underwear. There is also a lovemaking scene featuring Hoffs that only implies nudity but is still rather steamy. Did I mention the film was directed by her mother? Not since Dario Argento has a director lensed such intimate scenes with their offspring

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The Allnighter includes trailers for Cool as Ice and Hard to Hold, film vehicles for pop stars Vanilla Ice and Rick Springfield, respectively. Unlike those films, which had scenes of their stars rapping or singing, The Allnighter doesn’t feature any songs or singing by its star. The soundtrack is instead comprised of forgettable non-hits of the era, save for the ubiquitous “The Future’s so Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)” by Timbuk 3. The Blu-ray disc sounds good, but the picture is unremarkable, with the film barely looking better than it would have on TV back in the ‘80s. 

By far the best special feature is the audio commentary, recorded by writer/director Tamar Simon Hoffs and her daughter, Susanna. Their commentary is much more interesting than the film itself, providing insight into their mother/daughter dynamic. Tamar refers to her daughter as “Sue” and says filming the racy scenes wasn’t a problem because Susanna came from an “open household” where everything was discussed. Susanna had laryngitis while recording the commentary and seems to regard the film with the same embarrassment that we would all have when looking at old pictures or videos of ourselves. Tamar seems proud of the film, maintaining that it captured what young people were really like at that time. Susanna calls the film “So ‘80s it’s painful.”