Jumpin' Jack Flash [1986]

Whoopi Goldberg (The Color Purple) gives one of her earliest and finest film performances as Terry Doolittle, a computer programmer who unwittingly becomes embroiled in an international espionage scheme, forced to outmaneuver the CIA and KGB in this riotous 1986 Cold War comedy. Doolittle, the outspoken and irreverent employee of an international bank, is working overtime one evening when her terminal receives an encrypted message pleading for help from Jumpin' Jack Flash, code name for a British spy (Jonathan Pryce) trapped in Eastern Europe. At first reluctantly and then audaciously, Doolittle becomes privy to his predicament and essential to his escape while delivering a steady stream of ribald one-liners and witty slapstick—whether it's her Mick Jagger impersonation, police station meltdown, or infamous dress-caught-in-the-paper-shredder escapade at the British Consulate ball. A host of supporting talent includes Annie Potts, Jon Lovitz, Jim Belushi, the late Phil Hartman, and Stephen Collins (who shines as Marty, the mole), yet the film belongs to Whoopi. Though the plot is far-fetched and often flimsy, Penny Marshall (in her directorial debut) gives Goldberg enough latitude to showcase her immense talent in a role she obviously relishes—and audiences will too. Rated R for extreme profanity and mature themes. --Lynn Gibson

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