Wolf (1994)

Film review: Wolf (1994), directed by Mike Nichols

Will Randall (Jack Nicholson), a harmless man working in book publishing, has an encounter with a pack of wolves one night. He gets bitten, but doesn’t think much of it, as the doctor gives him the all clear. But things start happening that he has a tough time trying to explain. His sense of smell grows stronger, his hearing too …

There’s a party held by the company who’s taken over the publishing house, and the boss (Christopher Plummer) doesn’t give Randall the promotion he was after. Instead, it goes to Stewart Swinton (James Spader), and Randall is very disappointed. Meeting Laura Alden, the boss’s daughter, cheers him up, but underneath the surface, his blood is boiling, and the wolf inside him is trying to get out.

Is Randall slowly turning into a werewolf, and if he is, is he responsible for killing his own wife?

Also starring David Hyde Pierce as Randall’s assistant, Prunella Scales as a dotty author,  Richard Jenkins as Detective Bridger, Om Puri as the professor who has done some research into lycanthropy, and Ron Rifkin as Randall’s doctor.

Randall and Jack Nicholson are perfectly paired. When I think of Nicholson, “wolf” is one of the words that come to mind, so him playing a werewolf just seems … right, somehow. Pfeiffer isn’t exactly tame either, if her character in The Witches of Eastwick fooled you. They make a pretty good team.

The transformation of Randall from Mr. Beta to the Alpha we’re more familiar with is funny, especially since it’s so gradual and takes even him by surprise at first. And because he starts out as a nice guy who gets a bit down on his luck, we can still like him when he steps up and decides revenge is a good idea. Revenge is normally a bad idea, but you know what? Randall kinda earned it.

The special effects aren’t that great, but seeing as how the film was made in the mid-1990s, that’s to be expected. Wolf is a fun way to spend a rainy day, but don’t expect to be amazed by awesomeness, because awesome, it ain’t. It’s good enough, though, but that’s about it. Oh, and you can never guess who else is a werewolf. Not as if it’s obvious or anything.

3 out of 5 horses.


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