Director: James Foley | 92 minutes | comedy, romance, crime | Actors: Madonna, Griffin Dunne, Haviland Morris, John McMartin, Bibi Besch, Sir John Mills, Robert Swan, Drew Pillsbury, Coati Mundi, Dennis Burkley, James Dietz
This joyride of a movie opens with a flashy animation in which we see how Nikki Finn (Madonna) has ended up wrongfully in jail. By the way, “Slammer” was the original title of the movie until Madonna chose her song “Who” s That Girl? “As the title song. The song topped the Billboard chart in August 1987 and it received a Golden Globe in 1988. Dutch Jan de Bont did the cinematography for “Who’s That Girl?”
Griffin Dunne from “After Hours” (1985) plays Louden Trott, a solid, hard-working lawyer on the eve of his marriage to a wealthy daughter. His future father-in-law orders him to put ex-con Nikki Finn on the bus to Philadelphia. Trott’s calm nature is in stark contrast to that of the Betty Boop-esque Nikki Finn who has been very much present from the start with her obnoxious accent and garish outfits. Madonna seems to have walked out of one of her video clips at the time. Actually, the film is also a stretched Madonna clip. But she’s not the only star in the movie, one of Trott’s other chores is transporting a Patagonian Felis, a very rare feline played here by a tame cougar. The film is somewhat like the comedy classic “Bringing Up Baby” (1938), but there is no comic tour de force here. Madonna and director James Foley both received a Razzie for their performances.
The film was poorly received by American critics and viewers, but was a success in Europe. In general, people in the United States are quite skeptical about singers making the switch to acting. Usually they have to perform twice as well there to receive the same rating. It has been said that this is one of Madonna’s better films, unlike the flopped “Shanghai Surprise” (1986) from a year earlier. In any case, her performance here is not bad. Who else but Madonna could play the cheeky Nikki Finn? Nobody will call Madonna a very gifted actress, but in some films especially where she plays the smaller roles that are close to her, she acts fine. Such as “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985) and “A League of Their Own” (1992). Madonna received real recognition in the form of a Golden Globe for her starring role in the musical “Evita” (1996).
For those who grew up with the Madonna from “Who’s That Girl?” It is as nostalgic as it is refreshing to see her once again as rebellious rather than pedantic. Even from the time when all girls tried to match her dance steps. You have to be a bit of a fan of the Madonna of the 80s to be able to put up with her an entire movie. Also, do not place high demands on the credibility of the story or the acting performance. Then “Who’s that Girl” can be an extremely entertaining, hysterical, crazy, crazy ride in the Rolls Royce.