Hiding Out (1987) is a Hidden Gem – Retro Review

1987’s Hiding Out is an aptly named film from where I sit because the movie had successfully been hiding out from me for 30+ years and I can’t imagine I am the only one who missed out on this one.

Hiding Out stars Jon Cryer (Pretty in Pink) as Andrew Morenski, a Boston based stockbrokers who unwittingly helped a mob boss named Kapados launder money. Morenski has agreed to testify against the mobster. Morenski’s testimony will put Kapados away for a long, long time so it makes sense that Kapados would have someone looking to eliminate his Andrew Morenski problem.

Morenski is nearly eliminated after he convinces the two FBI agents assigned to protect him until the trial to go out to a local diner for a bite to eat. And it is at this diner that a hitman tries to shoot Morenski. Instead of Morenski the hitman takes out one of the FBI agents and injures the other. Meanwhile, Morenski dives through the diner window to save his own ass and evade the hitman (and more importantly the hitman’s bullets). After a chase through the streets of Boston, Morenski manages to hop on a train out of town and ends up in Delaware.

It just so happens that Morenski’s aunt Lucy (played by Jon Cryer’s mom, Gretchen Cryer) lives in Delaware with his cousin, Patrick (Keith Coogan, Adventures in Babysitting). Morenski gives Aunt Lucy a call and says he needs a place to lay low… she tells him to meet her at the high school where she works as the school nurse.

But before he goes to meet his aunt, Morenski realizes he is going to need to change his look… he stops in a convenience store buys a new shirt, a razor, and shaving cream (which will bring a welcome end to Cryer’s distractingly fake beard), some scissors, some hair dye and voila… he looks like a new man. To complete the transformation he trades his jacket with the jacket of a bum outside the convenience store. Next stop, Topsail High School.

When he gets inside he stops by the office to inquire about his aunt and the almost 30-year-old Morenski is mistaken for one of the students… a light bulb goes off in Morenski’s head, a high school is one of the last places a mob hitman would come looking for him. So he heads down to the registration office, takes the name Max Hauser (inspired by a can of coffee he spots in the office), and becomes Top Sail’s newest senior.

With some help from his cousin Patrick, Andrew/Max begins to get the lay of the land at Top Sail High and he even attracts the attention of Ryan (Annabeth Gish), who up until that point had been dating Kevin O’Roarke the big man on campus. It is clear that Ryan is smitten with the new guy at school and that does not bode well for her relationship with Kevin. To add some fuel to the brewing Max and Kevin feud, some of his fellow students “convince” Max to run for Student Body President… a position that Kevin is seeking re-election for.

Andrew/Max’s plans to crash with Patrick change when the FBI is camped out at Aunt Lucy’s figuring that Andrew may come to her for help… so Patrick uses his mom’s keys and sneaks Max into the high school, where Andrew/Max lives at night and passes the time by smoking cigarettes, talking to himself on the PA, roller skating in the hallway, shaving and hanging out and getting drunk with the janitor who also is living at the school, unbeknownst to anyone.

Andrew/Max gets to face off with both of his enemies at the same time in the third act, when the mob hitman ends up tracking down Andrew/Max and has plans to shoot him at the same school assembly where the results of the election are going to be announced!

Hiding Out is truly a product of its time… The far fetched premise is part Just One of the Guys and part Back to School. Andrew/Max’s own aunt doesn’t recognize him just because he shaved and has two-toned hair and he doesn’t confide in her because why?!?! … The love story between the almost 30-year-old Max and the presumably 17 going on 18-year-old Ryan would absolutely not fly today. And even though they kept the interactions between Max and Ryan PG-rated, it is still creepy when you think about it… but like a lot of movies from the time period, Hiding Out is best enjoyed if you don’t overthink it.

 

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