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Film / After Hours

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A 1985 American Black Comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese. To date it's Scorsese's only "pure" comedy and a very dark one too.

The film takes place in New York City over the course of a single night. Unhappy office drone Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) meets a beautiful girl in a cafe and ends up calling over at her place in SoHo. After things work out badly and he ends up leaving hurriedly, the remainder of the movie chronicles his attempts to get home and the often surreal obstacles he faces.

The film's cast also includes Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, Catherine O'Hara, Verna Bloom, John Heard, Dick Miller, and Cheech & Chong.

It was the second of three somewhat similar movies in which a milquetoast guy meets a very worldly girl, with things then taking a turn for the dark, preceded by Into the Night earlier in 1985, then followed by Something Wild in 1986.

Not to be confused with the Cracked Web Original series of the same name. Also not to be confused with the fan video series Marvel/DC: After Hours. Or the Seinen yuri romance manga of the same name.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Julie to Paul, who wants nothing to do with her flirting or advances and leaves her apartment with an obviously empty promise to call her later. Paul's brushoff comes back to bite him when a scorned Julie starts putting up fake wanted posters of him.
  • Actor Allusion: Julie, played by Teri Garr, dancing to "Last Train to Clarksville" and enthusing over The Monkees. One of Garr's early film appearances was in the Monkee movie Head. The clip of Julie was part of the opening video montage played during the 2013 Monkees reunion concert tour.
  • And I Must Scream: Paul's brief entrapment in a statue. As originally written, he was going to end up that way.
  • Bad Humor Truck: Mild example with Gail's Mister Softee truck: it is the only vehicle amongst the angry horde that is hounding Paul, and is driven by one of its craziest members.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: At the pub's bathroom, Paul sees a graffito with a shark biting a man's best part off.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: An absurdist take on it.
  • Black Comedy: A man is set up to be killed by a pissed-off lynch mob by a crazy woman and nobody he meets being willing to help him and even going out of their way to make his night-time escapade just that much more of a living hell. It's an exercise in laughing or cringing.
  • Book Ends: Paul ends up right back in his desk the very next morning.
  • Bouncer: He only lets people with Mohawks into Club Berlin.
  • Brains and Bondage: Kiki is a SoHo artist, and Paul mistakenly believes she's been tied up against her will.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Paul goes into a diner to use a restroom, but the owner tells him it's for customers only, so he orders a burger and coffee and then ducks out. He later unwittingly ends up in the same diner where the bartender from earlier requests he get a glass of water. The owner silently brings the water, along with the burger and coffee.
    • En route to SoHo, Paul's only dollar bill (a twenty) ends up flying out of the cab, forcing him to ditch and leaving behind an angry driver. He later manages to get some money and finds the same driver again, who is all too happy to take the money and leave him stranded to his fate.
  • Caught in the Bad Part of Town: The plot is Paul Hackett's odyssey to survive one night in New York's SoHo district while the world decides to make him an incredibly dark example of the Butt-Monkey (as in, "he may end up lynched by an angry mob that mistook him for a thief" kind of Butt-Monkey). At one point he even begs the universe to tell him what he did wrong and when he witnesses a murder near the end, he's so far into Giving Up on Logic that he can only snark that the lynching mob will blame him for it somehow.
  • Chased by Angry Natives: Paul, during the latter part of the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The flyer for Club Berlin.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Julie's portrait-sketching abilities and her second job at a Xerox place. After Paul rejects her advances, she uses these to print fake wanted posters falsely identifying him as the neighborhood robber.
  • Closed Circle: Paul does not have the money to pay for transportation away from the SoHo neighborhood that the events of the movie happen in, nor is he able to contact anybody who can help him (the one person who loans him a phone makes him forget his friend's number in a Troll act). And by the end of the movie, Paul can't even try to walk away because the risk of him being found by the lynch mob is too high.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: As you'd expect from SoHo in The '80s, all the women Paul encounters are this, but especially Julie, who lives in some kind of '60s time warp.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Club Berlin, although it's just another hellish obstacle to Paul.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Paul ends up on his knees, begging the universe for an answer as to why he keeps being tormented. Once he sees a murder through a window in the middle of running away from an angry mob, he's so tired of his torment that he just snarks that someone will blame him for that.
  • Creator Cameo: Martin Scorsese as the spotlight operator at Club Berlin.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Yes, it was rude of Paul to swat away the paperweight Julie presented him with (even if he had a reason to), but then what did she do about it? Spread a series of flyers pointing out Paul as the infamous SoHo burglar so he'll be hunted down by an irate, murderous mob.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous Marcy's naked corpse is fully revealed when Paul checks to see if she really did have the burn scars he thought he saw. She doesn't.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: It begins at night and ends in the morning.
  • Fell Asleep Standing Up: Kiki falls asleep sitting wile Paul is giving her a massage.
  • Funny Background Event: A shelf overflowing with cans of Aqua Net hairspray can be seen in Julie's apartment, which she probably uses to set her distinctive Beehive Hairdo.
  • Gag Haircut: The punks try to shave Paul's head. It is Mohawk Night, after all. He escapes with a small bald patch on his scalp.
  • Gainax Ending: The movie as it is has a somewhat odd ending (with Paul just happening to fall out of a van while encased in a sculpture, right outside his place of work). Reportedly, another idea for an ending had Paul climbing into a woman's womb, and being "reborn" by the side of a highway.
  • Good is Not Nice: You'd be forgiven for thinking that when Horst shows up, he's going to straight up murder Paul, but he really just wants Paul to remember to mind his manners.
  • Just Take the Poster: Paul rips off the Wanted Posters of him in the streets.
  • Kafka Komedy: One of the most frequently cited examples. The bouncer's dialogue is even taken from "Before the Law".
  • Magical Realism: Club Berlin, Marcy's disappearing and reappearing burn scars, amongst others.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Marcy is exactly the plucky type Paul seems to need to get himself out of his boring rut. However, this trope is very darkly subverted — she has a husband as well as a boyfriend, and ends up killing herself after Paul walks out on her. Gail is also a dark subversion, in that she starts very chipper, but torments Paul (denying him the ability to contact someone who can help him) and later leads a lynch mob after him, partly because she thinks he's a thief and partly (apparently) out of murderous spite. Julie seems to fancy herself as one, but Paul isn't interested.
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: The bouncer seems to be doing this to Paul, as there is no line outside the nightclub. However, it turns out it's because he lacks a Mohawk, yet another one of the ways he is viewed as an outsider.
  • One Crazy Night: All Paul wants to do is go home, but a series of increasingly bizarre things keep happening to him.
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Paul.
  • The Operators Must Be Crazy: When Paul calls 911 to report being chased by a Vigilante Militia, the operator hangs up on him thinking he is being pranked.
  • Quiet Cry for Help: Played with. Julie leaves a note for Paul at the pib reading "Help! I hate this job".
  • Random Events Plot: Paul stumbles from one bizarre situation to the next.
  • Rape as Backstory: Subverted to the point of Black Comedy with Marcy. She tells Paul that a man tied her to the bed in the room where they're sitting and had his way with her "for six hours." Paul sympathizes, seemingly thinking this could explain her odd behavior, only for Marcy to nonchalantly admit she slept through most of it
  • Really Gets Around: Kiki.
  • Rear Window Witness: While hiding from an Angry Mob in a Blind Alley, Paul observes a domestic murder in a window across the street.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: At one point late into the night, Paul breaks down in the street and asks God what he wants from him.
  • Title Drop: Pete the diner owner mentions that "different rules apply" when it gets to be "after hours".
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Kiki makes plaster-of-Paris sculptures resembling bagels and cream cheese. Also, the freakish screaming papier-mache sculptures.invoked
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: By the end of the film, Paul just finds witnessing a murder interesting enough to snark that he will probably be blamed for it somehow, the way the universe is acting keen on making his life hell, and on the very last shot he turns into one of these by sitting on his office covered head to toe in plaster dust that he didn't bother to clean up because he's that fed up, and the few office workers that are in the same room just carrying on like nothing is happening (although it's hard to tell if it's just because it's so early that it's nearly deserted and someone will ask later).
  • Weirdness Magnet: Paul. He meets all of the crazies that come out at night in New York… and manages to piss off every single one of them in some way, shape, or form.
  • World Gone Mad: There doesn't seem to be a completely damage-free person alive or awake late at night.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: Marcy tells Paul about her husband who is a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz and always screams "Surrender Dorothy!" during orgasm.