90 Movies in 90 Days: Miracle Mile (1989)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Miracle Mile
Release Date:  May 19, 1989
Director:Steve De Jarnatt
Production Company: Miracle Mile Productions

Somewhere I’d been given the impression that Miracle Mile was a comedy of errors along the lines of After Hours.  Instead, it is a tense-as-fuck grimdark story of societal collapse in the hour before a nuclear apocalypse.  I won’t tell you how far I got into this movie before I cottoned on that there really weren’t any jokes.

Nevertheless, the movie begins with a meet-cute.  Harry (Anthony Edwards) is a musician visiting Los Angeles who meets Julie (Mare Winningham) at the La Brea Tar Pits museum.  They fall in love after spending the afternoon together and plan to meet up again when Julie’s shift at a coffee shop ends at midnight. Harry sleeps through his alarm and misses their date but goes to the coffee shop anyhow.

I won’t spoil things but through a series of unlikely events, Harry learns of an imminent nuclear missile strike on Los Angeles setting off an increasingly large scramble of people seeking safety.  The bulk of the movie is Harry trying to find Julie and get to an evacuation point.  The people he meet along the way include Landa (Denise Crosby), a business woman who confirms Harry’s information, and Wilson (Mykelti Williamson), a young man who Harry carjacks to get around L.A.

I’m not really into apocalyptic stories but I did find myself drawn into this tense drama.  Although the movie is misanthropic in its depiction of an “everyone for themselves” collapse, there is also a scene for pretty much every named character where they want to go save someone.  It kind of works with how the movie evolves from a romance to a thriller.  Just be aware, for God’s sake, that this is NOT a comedy.

Rating: ***1/2