A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Another Day in Paradise'' is a lowlife sleazeball drugs-and-blood road movie, which means its basic materials will be familiar to audiences of the post- "Easy Rider'' decades. There's not much new here, but then there's so rarely something new at the movies that we're sometimes grateful to see the familiar done well.
What brings the movie its special quality is the work of James Woods and Melanie Griffith, and their mirror images, played by Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner. Woods and Griffith play types they've played before, but with a zest and style that brings the movie alive--especially in the earlier scenes, before everything gets clouded by doom. Woods plays Uncle Mel, who describes himself: "I'm just a junkie and a real good thief. Kind of go together.'' Griffith is his woman, Sid. They met because he was her drug dealer.
The movie opens with the younger couple, Bobbie and Rosie (Kartheiser and Gregson Wagner). He breaks into a junior college to burgle a vending machine, gets in a struggle with a security guard, is badly wounded and stabs the guard to death. Soon he's being treated by Uncle Mel. "Are you a doctor?'' he asks. "Yeah, sure. I'm a doctor shooting you up with heroin,'' says Mel, sarcastically. As Bobbie recovers, Mel spins visions of the four of them as a family, setting out on a glorious adventure on the road. He's a spieler, a fast-talking spinner of visions, and Sid backs him up with warmth and encouragement. As a sample of the paradise ahead, she takes them on a shopping spree, and then to a nightclub (where the kids get drunk and have to be hauled home by the grownups).
We know the good times can't last. Mel needs money too badly, because he needs drugs--and because he needs drugs, he's willing to get money in dangerous ways. Soon Bobbie is learning about concealing himself in crawl spaces, and Mel is masterminding a particularly inept crime. The arc of the story is preordained: Early glorious scenes of freedom on the road, followed by lowering clouds, gathering omens and the closing net of fate.