Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home

No, Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home is not one of those movies in which the author’s name is contractually included in the credits, like Neil Simon’s Only When I Laugh, or Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline. Besides, Coming Home has already been used. No, it’s just an ungainly title.

It’s about poor little rich boy Morgan Stewart coming home from seven years of boarding school. A rude homecoming, this: He’s dropped off by Mom’s helicopter—she’s got to run to the hairdresser—tackled by mansion security guards, and greeted by his father with a lackluster, “I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your coming here.”

No wonder the kid feels unloved. He’s only been called home in order to act as a pawn in his father’ Senate re-election campaign, since the campaign theme is “family.”

So Morgan schemes to bring his family together into a loving unit—like the one he sees on television in old reruns of “The Brady Bunch.” God forbid. Actually, he fails at this, although the scriptwriters invent a political contrivance that saves the day.

Saves the day in terms of the plot, that is. There isn’t much that could save this movie, short of dumping the negative into the sea and starting from scratch.

Oh, there are a couple of okay ideas. The kid is obsessed with horror movies, and meets the girl of his dreams in line at a mall for a personal appearance by George Romero, director of Living Dead movies. Later, when they take a shower together, all they can do is talk about how the knife never touches Janet Leigh in the shower scene from Psycho.

Morgan also does a funny song and dance to celebrate his new love, much to the consternation of his parents, who assume he’s freaking out on drugs.

But most of what’s good about those scenes comes from Jon Cryer, who plays Morgan. (The parents are played by Lynn Redgrave and Nicholas Pryor, in best over-the-hill fashion.) Cryer’s the likable guy who did such nice work in Pretty in Pink last year. He shouldn’t be in this movie, but he tries awfully hard.

The whole movie tries hard, too hard. Direction is credited to someone calling himself Alan Smithee. This person needs to take some refresher courses in the basics of composition and blocking. Believe me, the title is far from the last ungainly thing about this movie.

First published in the Herald, February 1987

An unusually terrible movie. You can guess from the final paragraph that the practice of taking the “Alan Smithee” credit by a director who doesn’t want to sign his name to a movie was not all that widely known at the time, or at least not to me. One of the reliable things about IMDb is that no matter how awful a movie is, and Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home is among the worst ever made, somebody will post a comment about how it is a film classic and they loved it growing up and wore out their VHS copy. Which is how you know there’s something wrong with the world and the people in it.

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