I know I constantly preach about my love for all things 80's, but even I have to admit, the 90's weren't ALL bad. In fact, the early to mid-90's were a time period where some pretty memorable movies were made. I remember going to the video store and having an embarassment of riches to choose from. I don't know if it was just that horror movies were cheap and easy to make, but they were coming out left and right. For instance, there was a string of B-grade horror movies based off of classic fairy tales, from "Pinocchio's Revenge" to "Rumpelstiltskin". Not what I'd consider technically great movies, but at that point in my childhood, I found them pretty engrossing and highly entertaining. One good thing about that era was the abundance of movies based on Stephen King stories. It seemed like every story King had written was being turned into either a film or a tv movie, "Misery" and "It" to lesser known properties like "Sleepwalkers" and "The Dark Half". These movies ranged from not-so-good to excellent. Among the pack was a movie called "Thinner", and for some reason, it always resonated more with me than, uhm, "The Langoliers" (horrible!).
Our main man, Billy, is an extremely obese lawyer. The fact that he is overweight is played for laughs and so exaggerated in the first act of the movie, that it's almost distracting. Anytime it shows him eating, for example, he is just shoveling food into this mouth uncontrollably. Or he'll get just flabbergasted and out of breath by walking up a few steps. They shove it in your face (no pun intended). I understand that it's literally the main plot point, but some restraint would've been great. Also, the fat makeup, in recent viewings, hasn't held up all that well. So Billy is a big time lawyer in a small town, and has recently won a case defending mobster Richie, played by Joe Mantegna, who is always great. We see a lot of the details of Billy's family life, which includes a teenage daughter, and a questionable relationship with his wife, who harps on him about his weight, and who he suspects is having an affair. When he returns to his office after the victory, we see that a band of traveling gypsies has set up a carnival in the town square. They are run out of town, for some reason. During a drive after a victory dinner (naturally), Billy and his wife are having a bit of a "celebration" in the vehicle, during which he accidentally runs over and kills one of the gypsy elders.
Naturally, instead of facing any charges, his good ol' buddy system with the lawyers and judge and cops, get him off. The gypsy king, if that's what we'll call him, later puts a curse on Billy, where he's brushes his cheek and whispers "thinner!" to him, to exact his form of justice. Gypsy justice! Starting the next day, Billy begins to drop weight. At first, he doesn't think much, thinks maybe his diet is finally working. His wife is proud of him. His doctor and lawyer friends even notice. Then he begins to lose it at an alarming rate, losing about 40 lbs in 2 weeks, regardless of him eating 12,000 calories a day. In fact, it seems the more he eats, the more he loses. Ironically, the makeup of the weight loss is much better during his weight loss transition. He finds out that some of the men in his circle that protected him from being charged, are each going through physical changes themselves. Seeing how his friends have ended up, he decides he must find this gypsy to figure out how to remove the curse. After tracking them down, he remembers his mobster buddy had told him he owed him, so he calls him up to help him figure out how to get these gypsies to cooperate.
We get a few fun scenes with Billy and Richie trying to find these gypsies, including Richie shooting up the gypsy camp with an assault rifle, Richie beating up a sultry Kari Whurer and threatening to pour acid on her face, basically Richie is just in his element now as a gangsta out for revenge for his friend. Finally, after more gypsies being killed, their dogs being poisoned, lots of anarchy, the gypsy king agrees to reverse the curse for Billy. Of course, he's going to have to pass this curse on to someone. I wonder who? In an oddball solution, he puts his blood into a strawberry pie, and whoever eats the pie will take on the curse. He returns home, and guess what he brought his wife? Her favorite dessert, strawberry pie! Before going to bed, he encourages her to eat up. The next morning, when he wakes up, his wife doesn't. She was quickly dispatched by the cursed strawberry pie. There's a disgusting scene here that I won't spoil, but in the context of the character, it makes NO SENSE. Why did he do that small but disgusting thing?? The gross-out factor is all I can reason. In a cruel twist of fate, which I always love, he goes downstairs, fully satisfied that he doesn't have to deal with his nagging, cheating wife anymore, only to discover that there were *two* plates in the sink. Who else ate pie? His daughter! Cruel irony! Oh well, she's gotta go play soccer. After he realizes what he's done and can't live with the guilt anymore, he picks the pie up to just eat the rest himself, but right before he takes the bite, the doorbell rings. It's the doctor that his wife was cheating with! He quickly invites the good doctor in to have a piece of pie. End scene.
The idea of curses has always been interesting to me, and of course, being told in a Stephen King story is always fun. In the book, everything wasn't spelled out so obviously the ending was a bit different and more open to interpretation, but the studio changed it after test audiences didn't like the original ending. They obviously ruin everything. Damn 'em. In modern viewing, I'm not sure why I have an affinity for this movie, other than the fact that I just loved it as a kid for some reason. When we're 10 years old, we're way more concerned with being purely entertained, which this movie did in spades back then. Today, if this was the first time I'd seen it, I probably would not buy it or anything. But this is a case where our memories are oftentimes more powerful than the reality of something. Usually, we remember things to be a lot better than they often are. But it's definitely not the worst Stephen King movie. Have you ever seen "Trucks"?
"Thinner" gets 6 Strawberry pies out of 10!