Fish Don’t Blink (2002) Is Pleasantly Surprising
The one thing I didn’t expect from MGM’s release of Fish Don’t Blink as part of the “Limited Edition Collection” of DVDs manufactured on demand, was that it would be entertaining. Incorporating bits and pieces of other films into a mostly predictable plot, Fish Don’t Blink is funny, charming, pleasant, and poignant.
Jimmy (Wil Wheaton) and his younger sister Clara (Lea Thompson, exceptional in the role) live in a trailer in the desert and run a diner, The Nautilus, which had belonged to their parents who are now dead. Living in the diner is a catfish named Charlie. Jimmy dreams of traveling to exotic destinations and Clara is “special.” Clara supposedly has the mind of a ten-year-old, but she has an infinitely superior sense of hearing, allowing her to hear things that are being said or happening at a surprising distance. She also has a sense of intuition that puts her light years beyond those around her.
Visitors to the diner include an annoying police officer who insists on saying Clara is “retarded” (when she’s just “goofy,” as she will happily tell anyone)¸ a local real estate/car salesman known for his television commercials, Clara’s doctor (Dee Wallace aka Dee Wallace Stone), and a regular named Leonard (Donovan Scott in one of the better performances). A young woman, Frances (Tonie Perensky), running from the mob after witnessing a murder and her companion/driver, Pete (Richard Grieco), arrive when their car breaks down as they are escaping to Mexico. They are pursued by two cartoonish mobsters (Randy Becker and Bill Capizzi aka Dante Delfini).
Jimmy is planning to sell the diner, institutionalize Clara, and leave town. Frances wants Pete to fix the car (which isn’t possible) and get them back on the road, and the mobsters are out to kill Frances. Romance, big business deals, and bad timing complicate things
Fish Don’t Blink may be derivative, unoriginal, and unsurprising, yet performances by Richard Grieco as the somewhat simple Pete and Lea Thompson as Clara keep the audience interested and involved. There are a few unexpected twists, and--despite the fairly hokey ending--Fish Don’t Blink is a pleasant diversion, both amusing and amiable.