Jami was born on 28th October 1965 in Chicago to Italian-Jewish parents. She won a nationwide talent contest and studied drama at New York University. Her film career has been interspersed with regular roles in TV series such as Square Pegs, ER, Ally McBeal , Still Standing, The Facts Of Life and Entourage. She has made guest appearances in Seinfeld and Diff'rent Strokes. She has also done a fair amount of theatre work. In 1989 she got married to Toby Ressler and spent time in the early 90s working as a scent designer . She has 3 sons and she and her husband part-own the baseball franchise Milwaukee Raiders.
She has been picked first because she is absolutely stunning - simple as that.
1. On The Right Track (1981)
Jami's first film role was "Big Girl" in this comedy vehicle for Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman. She only has one line as a member of a street gang recruited by Coleman's young entrepreneur.
Coleman is Lester, a shoeshine boy who lives in Chicago's Union St station (sleeping in a luggage locker) because he's scared of the world outside. When the owner of the business he's undercutting reports him to the authorities , the social worker Frank (Michael Lembeck) discovers he has a gift for predicting race winners when he's shining shoes.
The film plays to Coleman's strengths, his old head on young shoulders persona and irrepressible cheek but it's not quite a feelgood movie. Nearly every character in the film, including his friends at the station, tries to exploit his talent. There's also some uncomfortable sexual and racial humour - " I could get raped !" is never a funny line even when uttered by a bag lady and Coleman's "Don't we all look the same ?" line is equally jarring. When Lester encounters a mugger who tells him to take his clothes off ( thankfully only the prelude to a lame sight gag ) you wonder where the film is going.
The other performances are generally good (although one Arthur Smith playing Gerald who robs Lester is horrendously wooden). Lisa Eilbacher as Jill, Lester's friend looks fantastic and generates sympathy as the one character who doesn't try to take advantage of him. You feel she deserves a better love interest than the shallow, opportunistc Frank ( Lembeck is well cast). Norman Fell is also good as the cynical Mayor who gets involved with Lester.
For Coleman fans ( I'm indifferent ) it's worth catching but good luck as it's yet to be released on DVD.
2. Endless Love (1981)
Some sources give this as Jami’s first film though OTRT was definitely out first. Jami’s appearance in this is of the blink-and-you’ll miss her variety. She’s one of Brooke Shield’s schoolfriends complete with pigtails and glasses and is only on screen a few seconds. She is in the cast list as “Patty” but you can’t pick that up from the film which suggests that Jami fell victim to the editor’s scissors. Certainly a scene where Shields’ character discusses her relationship with friends would have fleshed out her character more.
Although Jami’s part is virtually non-existent, I’ll review the film here while it’s fresh in my mind as I’m not very interested in anyone else who appears in the movie. I didn't have the slightest interest in it when it first came out assuming it was as sappy as Lionel Ritchie's theme song. I also tend to avoid reviews of films before I see them so I didn't realise what a pasting this got from the critics, acquiring a generous set of Golden Raspberry nominations.
Much of the criticism was based on affection for the source novel which I haven't read so I'm not going to go down that road except to note that the book is set in the late 60s and if director Franco Zeffirelli had stuck with that the film would have been a bit more plausible. There is still plenty to criticise when you view it as a standalone project.
Firstly there's the underage sex angle. Although Shields had turned 16 her co-star Martin Hewitt was 23 and the scene where they make love on the floor, while tastefully shot, is queasy enough before you factor in her mother watching them unobserved and getting off on it.
Then there's the plot. Hewitt is David , a Jewish lad of 17 who's developed an unhealthy obsession for 15-year old Jade ( Shields ) from the Butterfield family whose bohemian lifestyle seems to be part of the attraction in a Charles Ryder-esque way, given that his own parents have a cold, functional relationship on its last legs. David is welcomed in particularly by her hippie chick mother (Shirley Knight) less so by her more conservative father (Don Murray) whose affection for his daughter borders on the creepy and brother ( James Spader warming up his spoilt yuppie persona ). Mom manages to persuade Pop to tolerate David bonking young Jade senseless all night in their house ( yeah, right ) until he discovers her taking pills to cope with the lack of sleep and not unreasonably demands they cool it for a month while she has exams. David reluctantly agrees but then listens to a harebrained scheme from his mate ( a debut for Tom Cruise in eye-wateringly tight denim shorts ) for winning back Pop's favour involving a box of matches. From that point on it becomes an increasingly ludicrous melodrama with an ambiguous ending but by that time you're so exasperated you couldn't care less.
Generally the performances aren't great . It's hard to know which is worse , Shields' utter blankness (although in mitigation the script doesn't give her much to work with) or Knight's hammy portrayal of a sexually frustrated mum. Hewitt is little better, his smug grin making it impossible to care for a character who is in any case verging on being a stalker. Don Murray is better ( and you end up rooting for him ) although let down by a showboating stunt double who makes his final scene unintentionally hilarious.
This film ended Brooke Shields' hopes of being taken seriously as an actress rather than a gossip column staple and neither she nor Hewitt who largely disappeared were ever trusted to lead a film again. So Jami was perhaps lucky to be almost erased from it.
Jami spent the next three years in TV most notably in Square Pegs (1982-3) a high school comedy where she played a pompous Jewish prefect and Diff’rent Strokes spin-off The Facts of Life where she played a snob. This increased exposure led to a more substantial role in Jami’s next film.
3 Alphabet City (1984)
Jami graduated to a full supporting role in this crime thriller as Sophia the teenage sister of the main protagonist Johnny (Vincent Spano) who has started working as an escort.
The film was directed by Amos Poe who made his name capturing the New York punk scene of the late 70s. It's so grounded in the mid-80s it almost seems like a spoof in places with its frequent dry ice night club scenes, the focus on Johnny's clothes, the big hair, designer violence, pavement breakdancers and Nile Rodgers's electrobeat soundtrack.
Johnny is a drug dealer, prowling the streets in a white Pontiac, who decides to quit while he's ahead for a variety of reasons , morality seemingly not one of them as he's quite happy to shoot people and steal his boss's money to make his escape. That's about it as far as the plot goes; we just follow Johnny round town as he scares his mother and sister out of their home ( his boss wants it burned down ) , has sex with his artist girlfriend (Kate Vernon), avoids a drug bust and collects his loot.
Poe's direction is very flat particularly when characters are conversing. He seems to favour Kubrick-esque long shots with the characters in the middle distance but fails to put anything interesting in the mise en scene. The scene where Spano tries to persuade Vernon to leave town is particularly badly shot ( not helped by the latter's poor acting ). The climax is moderately exciting ( if you ignore a glaring continuity error when a hood gets squashed at the top of an elevator and his corpse isn't there when it comes back down ).
Spano does OK with such a thinly-written role and perhaps deserved better than his career subsequently delivered. Jami is only in the first half hour of the film but is quite good at conveying her character's brainless hedonism and looks very fetching in her underwear and then micro-dress.The less said about her screen mother's acting (Zohra Lampert) the better.
While hardly essential viewing this isn't the worst film of Jami's career and might yet become a kitsch classic given the breaks.
4 Sixteen Candles (1984)
Again, Jami’s part in this early John Hughes comedy starring Molly Ringwald is very minor. She plays Robin, a sidekick of Ringwald’s love rival Caroline, and has little to do other than laugh at her friend’s predicament when she gets her hair stuck in a door at a party.
That last sentence may give you an idea as to the general level of the comedy in this film. The premise is that Sam ( Ringwald ) wakes up on her 16th birthday to find that the rest of her family have forgotten it because her sister (Blanche Baker) is getting married next day. The only attention she attracts is of the unwelcome kind from the Geek (Anthony Michael Hall) while she pines for jock Jake (Michael Schoeffling). To make matters worse for her ( and us ) one set of grandparents have, for no credible reason, brought along a zany foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe) whose every scene is mildly racist and excrutiatingly unfunny. And a young Joan Cusack struggling to drink from a fountain with a neck brace isn't side-splitting either.
While it created few ripples here, the film was a critical and modest commercial succes over the pond and still retains some kudos. I can see how Ringwald ( long since a busted flush of course ) appeared a fresh and engaging talent but there's little else to enjoy here.
Post - American Pie the sex references and the antics of Hall's nerdy gang ( which includes John Cusack ) seem exceptionally tame and Schoeffling is as wooden as they come. Add to that a very uninspiring 80s soundtrack - the final scene dissolves into The Thompson Twins' "If You Were Here" which is lumpy even by their standards - and you have one dated and dull film.
5. Mischief (1985)
Have to be careful to avoid a spoiler here. Jami plays Rosalie, the class geek in this 50s set sex comedy. She's in glasses, braces and bunches for most of the film; that's as far as I can go.
Actually it's quite a small role ; the main protagonists are Jonathan (Doug McKeon) the short guy who doesn't get the girls and his newly-arrived guru, bad boy Gene (Chris Nash) who are chasing Marilyn ( Kelly Preston ) and Bunny ( Catherine Mary Stewart ) respectively. It's a very male-centric film; you don't really get a female point of view at all and despite the joke often being on McKeon's character it's still quite a sexist movie.
The film can best be summed up as an adult version of Happy Days ( with Jonathan as Ritchie although its flattering the wooden Nash to link him to Fonzie ). In fact , I was quite surprised by the language and how rude the film gets in scenes like Jonathan's boner embarrrassment. There's also a lengthy, though semi-comic, sex scene with McKeon and Preston where Mrs Travolta reveals all her hugely impressive charms. That said, her character lacks any depth and the film's main weakness is the complete lack of explanation for her attraction to Jonathan. Stewart's role is smilarly underwritten. All the adult characters are strictly one-dimensional.
It's an uneven film, very funny in parts but slow and uninvolving in others mainly down to Nash's inadequacy. The fifties soundtrack is excellent throughout.
Jami is good , the character being not too far removed from Muffy in Square Pegs but it's McKeon's film.
6. Quicksilver (1986)
Oh dear. Jami’s next film is a stinker. She is the main female character, Terri , a young runaway who signs up to the Quicksilver bicycle delivery firm. Also on the books is Jack Casey (Kevin Bacon) a former stockbroker who eschews the lifestyle after taking a big hit, for a freewheeling existence on the streets.
I’m at a loss where to start in describing the faults of this film. It’s a gruesome mash-up of Trading Places, Flashdance and bike porn with few redeeming features. It’s ironic that Jami’s next film was called Crossroads as a low-flying boom mike makes more than one appearance here. The road footage jumps between New York and San Francisco as if we’re not all too familiar with those switchback hills from the Dirty Harry movies. Real cycle afficionados might get something out of the riding scenes if they can bear the music which veers between Irene Cara-style bombastic dance-rock and the tuneless keyboard meanderings of Tony Banks. Even they might balk at the ludicrous dance scene where Bacon ( who clearly performs at least some of the stunts himself ) rides around his unintroduced girlfriend Rand (Whitney Kershaw) who is doing a lame routine on his apartment floor. The narrative is absolutely abysmal, the drugs plot having to be re-introduced several times after we’ve forgotten about it. Early on Jack sees a bike in a window, then we cut immediately to Terri’s initiation into which Jack later rides in as an established employee . There’s a big goof where the drug dealer Gypsy (Rudy Ramos) gives Terri 5 dollars to pay her bill in a diner ( as they often do of course ) and she leaves without handing it over the counter. The finale is ludicrous , taking place in conveniently cleared streets and switching suddenly from night time to mid-morning
The performances are not great. Only Paul Rodrigues (Hector) and Larry Fishburne (Voodoo) stand out from the pack of riders introduced to Terri. It would be generous to suggest the others have even two dimensions ; most don’t do any riding either just act as a sort of Greek chorus. One guy is a John Candy lookalike in a brown suit. Fishburne exits too early, mown down in broad daylight by Ramos the sort of anonymous thug that gets blown away by Charles Bronson in the Death Wish films. Bacon shows exactly why he never cut it as a leading man, all moody stares and garbled dialogue, although he’s not helped by a terrible script. His visit back to his parents is so badly-written it’s painful to watch and becomes just a recap of an earlier scene in case we’d forgotten – “Dad, you offered to make me a SANDWICH ! “
I have to admit that Jami is awful too. She looks great and starts out OK in familiar vein as a tough-talking but obviously vulnerable street kid but soon degenerates into moody stares and hair-flicking particularly in her scenes with Ramos where she scowls at him before doing exactly what she’s bidden. She also does conspicuously little riding in the film. Any chemistry between her and Bacon is non-existent, their joint scenes are totally flat.
This is a film that neither would place very prominently on their c.v.
7. Crossroads (1986)
Jami was on a roll now, working with director Walter Hill and co-star Ralph Macchio. It's the story of a young guitar player Eugene (Macchio) obsessed with the Blues who learns that an old man, Willie (Joe Seneca) in a penal hospital nearby was formerly a sideman to Robert Johnson and might know the fabled "lost song" (Johnson having famously committed just 29 songs to wax) . At first Willie doesn't want to know but then comes to a deal whereby if Eugene busts him out he will take him to Mississipi to find the song.
From there on in it becomes a road movie with Eugene learning life lessons along the way. Jami plays Frances, a young dancer - at least that's what she says - hitchhiking to LA who encounters the duo in an abandoned house during a downpour (which clears up to a fine day in little over a minute but let's not quibble). There's a tantalising glimpse of Jami's bare back and white panties as she puts a T-shirt on then talks to them bra-less , Willie realising that she will aid them in getting rides. Frances is a feisty girl who aids Willie in an extortion scam, takes Eugene's virginity ( offscreen ) then parts company with them before the film's climax. It's a rather contrived role for the purpose of giving young Eugene the necessary experience of heartbreak but it at least allowed Jami to play a stronger character in control of her own fate.
It's a moderately charming rites-of-passage film for the most part, with Seneca stealing all the scenes from the limited Macchio, and beautifully shot. However the climax, in introducing occult themes and a rock star cameo late in the film, is both jarring in tone and, once the premise is established, boringly predictable.
8. Solarbabies (1986)
Jami's one foray into sci-fi was this rather bizarre effort which seems to divide opinion between those who recall it rather fondly from their 80s childhood and others who treat it with utter derision. Jami is the female lead as Tera, one of a band of orphans who become freedom fighters.
It's a real magpie of a film directed by Alan Jackson who was better known as a choreographer. There are steals from other movies all over the place but the most obvious antecedents are Rollerball, Logan's Run (with which it has Richard Jordan as the main vilain in common) , E.T and Mad Max. The story is set in a future where water is scarce and controlled by a fascist Protectorate who take children into huge orphanages in the desert for indoctrination and training in its service. Part of the training involves playing a violent game on skates and Jami's gang break a rule by playing outside the compound one night. When they scatter at the arrival of Stricter Grock (Jordan) their young mascot Daniel (Luke Haas the big-eared little boy from Witness) finds a mysterious white ball Bohdai which, in an R2D2 fashion, begins to communicate with him.
Despite the futuristic setting there's no doubt that this is an eighties movie from the big hair to Maurice Jarre's pounding synth score. It obviously had a decent budget as there's nothing wrong with the sets. The major problem is lack of narrative coherence. How come a planet starved of water has so much smooth surface that roller skating is the best means of getting around ? Why has Haas' character who is deaf been selected for training ? Bohdai changes hands twice but in each case it's a long while before you realise who's got it. Part of the problem is a hamfisted edit, most obvious when the gang have to jump across a chasm to escape the police and you see the first two make the leap and then the fifth (Jami's jump is one of those chopped out ). It also leaves the fate of a major character completely ( and I think not deliberately ) unknown in the film's climax. Jami's rescue of the gang from the clutches of bounty hunters ( played in wildly OTT fashion by Alexei Sayle and Bruce Payne ) isn't believable because there isn't enough time allowed in the storyline to set it up.
Jami is OK though she still needs to cut out the mardy squawk her voice drops into when her characters are subdued. It has to be said she looks terrific and there's some titillation when the camera dwells on her rear in tight shorts and the cave scene where she's in a damp white robe and lit from behind. The other kids are not very impressive. Jason Patric is embarrassingly bad in the scene where he has a heart-to-heart with Bohdai ; it can't be easy talking to a plastic ball but even so. Haas too is dreadful though you have to sympathise with him when the sadistic scriptwriter has people keep mentioning his ears ; there's no real need for his character to be deaf and it only draws attention to his outsized jugs. The acting honours instead go to Jordan who brings real menace to the role particularly in the surprisingly nasty torture scenes which earned the film its 15 certificate.
It isn't the worst film ever by a long way but it definitely needed another edit.
9. The Lost Boys (1987)
This is of course Jami's most enduring film , the starting point for all your Buffy's, Angels, True Bloods etc, in making the vampire concept sexy again. It was the second film in a row she'd made with Jason Patric.
Unfortunately it's not her best role. Jami plays Star, a gypsy-like siren who leads Patric's character, Michael into a motorcycle gang led by Keifer Sutherland who turn out to be vampires. She herself is a half-vampire who is supposed to complete the transition by making Michael her first kill but develops human feelings for him instead. There's no real explanation for Sutherland's patience with her and her motivations are a bit unclear throughout. In the film's climax she's just a bystander.
The film as a whole holds up pretty well mixing impressive horror effects with some good-natured comedy mostly supplied by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander as Edgar and Alan (did you spot that one ?) the teenage vampire hunters who assist Michael's brother Sam (Corey Haim) in his efforts to rescue him. There's a good soundtrack as well which made a decent standalone album. Sutherland is excellent as the feral gang leader more James Dean than Christopher Lee and Dianne West gives her usual turn as a muddle-minded mum. It is ultimately more style than substance but an enjoyable couple of hours nonetheless.
It was around this time that Jami expressed dissatisfaction with her roles to date saying "Most of the part's I've played have been passive girls who are just sort of there. I have trouble with that because I'm not like that and being passive gets you in big trouble generally."
10. Less Than Zero (1987)
This is Jami's most controversial film due to the very public disapproval the author Bret Easton Ellis and his fans expressed about this adaptation of his work. The script went through numerous re-writes and progressive bowdlerisation until it ended up with an anti-drugs message that's nowhere to be found in Ellis's bleak satire. In particular Jami's character Blair was very different from the girl in the book and some of the criticism was aimed at Jami herself. In the sort of metaconcept beloved of Tom Ewing, Ellis had the eponymous antihero of his next novel American Psycho sarcastically ask a video store clerk for something featuring Jami Gertz to break up his usual viewing of video nasties.
I have read the book and the differences are so major it's not worth me going through them all; the film must be assessed on its own merits.
The action is set entirely amongst the rich and privileged of Palm Springs, L.A. and concerns three ex-schoolfriends the straight, studious Clay (Andrew McCarthy), the debauched Julian (Robert Downey Junior) and aspiring model Blair (Jami) who is somewhere in between. Clay returns home from college for Christmas partly in response to a call from Blair who wants him to try and help Julian despite their cheating on him earlier and the fact she is a casual cokehead herself. Julian is also being tracked for a large debt by his dealer Rip (James Spader).
Most of the film involves the characters pursuing each other through wild parties of eighties excess and fashion wherein lurk a young extra called Brad Pitt (blink and you'll miss him) and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (ditto). However it is interspersed with some more touching scenes such as the one where Clay talks to Julian in a park with a child swinging in the foreground or the one where Julian runs into Clay's little sister while he's burgling her mother's jewellery and she just sees him as the family friend he used to be. It avoids a lot of the more irritating eighties tropes like breakdancers in the background and Tangerine Dream scores and has a decent soundtrack.
The performances are variable. Downey Junior is superb at portraying Julian's disintegration; of course now we know why but that still doesn't detract from a brilliant performance. Spader too is excellent as the smooth-talking scumbag who does embody all the nihilism of Ellis's vision. Jami's performance is uneven. You sense she's pushing at the limits of her range and kills some good lines stone dead as if she hasn't really understood the script. She does get better in the latter part of the film when the character shows a more human compassionate side and she gets back into her comfort zone. She's still better than McCarthy though who's well out of his depth here constantly switching between a limited range of facial expressions and failing to deliver any of his lines with much conviction.
I don't think it's a bad film especially for the less than classic era in which it was made. The climactic scene is quite moving despite being a tad unlikely and neither Spader nor Downey Junior have ever been better. One for a re-evaluation I think.
11. Listen To Me (1989)
Jami's next film made rather less impact despite the presence of Hollywood heavyweight Roy Scheider. That could be down to the premise that college debating is the new rock and roll ; no one actually says that but setting a montage of debating heads to the strains of Tutti Frutti makes the point.
The plot, such as it is, sees two kids from blue collar backgrounds, Monika ( Jami ) and Tucker ( Kirk Cameron ) getting a "debate scholarship" to attend a prestigious college which regularly wins debating competitions thanks to the obligatory inspirational coach Charlie ( Scheider ). The current star of the debating team is senator's son Garson ( Tim Quill ) who takes the newcomers under his wing but is a troubled soul ( though not to the extent you'd care about him ).
There are many, many reasons not to see this film - Kirk Cameron's mullet, Kirk Cameron ( a bargain basement Michael J Fox if , like me, you don't remember him ), the godawful soundtrack* with horrible eighties plinky keyboards announcing every dramatic moment, a predictability factor that makes Quincy seem like Twin Peaks and a script that throws its woolly liberal values at you with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. The characters are all pretty cardboard ; the love triangle involving the three youngsters is unconvincing and resolved with a jarring leap into melodrama , unintentionally but neatly summarised by Scheider's line "That's a load of crap". In the last quarter of the film they're just ciphers mouthing arguments on a certain divisive issue, but it's not written well enough to be a worthwhile contribution. Oh and I nearly forgot the unintroduced character who makes little drawings interpreting the action then disappears halfway through the film
However this is one of Jami's better roles; despite Cameron's top billing she is the lead and acquits herself well, especially in her set piece speech at the end when she could easily have come unstuck. By contrast you have to watch Cameron's hammy wrapping up from behind the sofa and what debate team would deploy someone with such a squeaky voice ? Quill is equally bad. Scheider didn't do bad performances and it's always a plus when he's on screen despite some terrible lines
*The film does feature Alphaville's Forever Young and Julia Fordham's Happy Ever After but otherwise the music is appalling
12. Zwei Frauen (aka Silence Like Glass) ( 1989 )
This was Jami's most ambitious role. She plays Eve Martin ,a ballet dancer cut down by leukaemia and awaiting death in a specialist hospital with foul mouthed and similarly-afflicted Claudia ( Martha Plimpton ) for a room-mate.
This tear-jerker based on true-life events is a German-made film with a largely American cast and as such largely avoids the cloying sentimentality that would inevitably mar a Hollywood treatment of the same subject matter. In stark contrast to Jami's previous film , it boasts an excellent, suitably sparse score from Anne Dudley which adds to the sense of pervasive dread throughout the film. This isn't one to watch when you're down in the dumps but it has some powerful scenes that stay with you.
It's not a masterpiece. There's an awful dance sequence to Yello's The Race which is subsequently explained but still seems out of place. And the perpetually dim lighting does eventually wear you down ; you end up willing every character who walks into a room to reach for the light switch. The make-up's not top notch either; Jami's bald dome is obviously a skullcap.
Before we come to Jami, the acting is pretty good all around although a podgy George Peppard as Eva's father doesn't deserve third billing for his meagre contribution. It's nice to see Bruce Payne ( who worked with Jami on Solarbabies ) in a sympathetic role as a caring young doctor and Rip Torn is excellent as the head surgeon. Martha Plimpton is a bit of a problem. She acts well enough but her character is so one-dimensional her role in the film seems to be to test the viewer's forbearance. Can you sympathise with this person's plight when all she does is tell people to fuck off ad nauseum ?
On balance this is Jami's best performance; it's not perfect - her diction gets a bit garbled in her angry scenes but she plays all the toughest scenes with real conviction. The scene when she discovers her hair is falling out is the best moment of her career and certainly had me in tears . I'm not sure how much of the dancing is her; in the early scenes the camera seems to come close enough to confirm it's not Jami but if so the edit when she falls is pretty seamless. And speaking of possible body doubles , if it is Jami on the operating table when she receives CPR, this film includes the only topless scene of her career although you'd have to be very quick with the pause button to catch it.
13. Renegades (1989)
Well unlucky 13 for Jami as this is by far her worst film role and exemplifies exactly what she was complaining about a couple of years earlier. Maybe it was the prospect of playing alongside Keifer Sutherland again that made her inattentive to the script. She plays Barbara the villain's girlfriend and her only purpose in the film is to die which she does in one of the many shoot-outs ( and can be seen flinching from the shots Sutherland fires after her death ).
Not that any one comes out of this with any credit. Sutherland is an undercover cop running with a jewel thief ( Robert Knepper ) who decides on impulse to steal a sacred Native American lance from a museum he's running through. He kills a Native American who intervenes and shoots Sutherland as well. For no obvious reason it's left to the dead man's brother played by Lou Diamond Phillips to nurse him back to health and they team up to bring down the villain. From that point on it's just a loud , superficial, over-violent, rip-off of the likes of Lethal Weapon without even a hint of humour to redeem it. Despite being great pals in real life Sutherland and Phillips ( who seems to be after the lance because they came from the same tree ) have no chemistry at all, the sub-plot about police corruption is boring and the Native American themes are treated with the sensitivity you'd expect to find in a John Wayne movie. It's one of the worst films of the eighties.
14. Don't Tell Her It's Me (aka The Boyfriend School) ( 1990 )
Unfortunately this one's terrible too in a different way. Jami plays Emily Pear, a journalist interviewing successful author Lizzie (Shelley Long) who's trying to pair her up with her self-pitying brother who's recovering from chemo (Steve Guttenberg in a skullcap). Unsurprisingly Emily's not very interested so Long persuades him to shape up, buy a motorbike and let his hair grow back into a hideous mullet which makes him look like Billy Ray Cyrus. Then the intelligence of the audience and that of Jami's supposedly sharp character is really insulted as he poses as Lobo from Europe to win her over.
It's buttock-clenchingly bad. There's a supposedly cute kid who definitely isn't though she performs one useful function in spilling ink on Emily's dress so we get a peek at her in her undies, the sole reason I can think of for recommending anyone watch it. Long is absolutely dreadful, woodenly drawling her lines in a manner reminiscent of the dreaded Sondra Locke. Kyle McLachlan as Emily's sleazy boss is totally wasted. Guttenberg looks suitably embarrassed and often as if he's about to corpse which is understandable. Jami actually does quite well with a totally unbelievable part though her wide-eyed stare is overused and becomes annoying.
At the time of writing this is the only one of Jami's movies you can watch on youtube. I'm guessing that's because no one wants to own up to the copyright of the wretched thing.
15. Sibling Rivalry (1990)
This one's at least an improvement on the last two horrors but it's a strange unsatisfying film that never seems sure where it wants to go. It's trying to be both a tasteless comedy and a family drama and each gets in the way of the other. Directed by veteran Carl (father of Rob) Reiner it stars Kirstie Alley as the prim, lonely wife of a doctor (Scott Bakula) who is suffocated by his WASP family. The wild card in her life is (much) younger sister Jeanine (Jami's part) who goads her into having an affair with a man she meets in a shop (Sam Elliott). He dies moreorless in the act and much complication ensues...
However the potential for a good black farce only half-materialises. There's not enough action for a start , the corpse remaining in situ while Alley and Bill Pullman , a blinds salesman who becomes involved in a very contrived way, discuss their predicament at considerable length. There are some chuckles to be had but they're well spaced out and the resolution is abrupt and very stagey. There's also the odd error like Elliott's corpse bleeding from the wound Pullman inflicts long after he's cold and which then goes unmentioned in the autopsy scene later in the film
The performances are generally good although Pullman's nerviness is a bit overdone. Alley is very convincing and sympathetic throughout while Carrie Fisher is excellent as her appalling sister-in-law. Jami herself does well although the role is somewhat underwritten; her passion for fish is never really explained nor is her romantic relationship with Ed O Neill as Pullman's brother very believable.
16. Jersey Girl (1992)
This was Jami's third comedy in a row and her last film for four years. She takes the lead as Toby, a nice girl from the wrong end of town who falls in with a yuppie, Sal (Dylan McDermott).
It's a likeable enough, though never very funny, romcom but originality isn't its strong point with echoes of An Officer And A Gentleman , Pretty In Pink and especially Pretty Woman. Toby is a nursery attendant getting bored of her surroundings and lifestyle who contrives to hook up with Sal by causing a road accident. It turns out he comes from a humble background too and is being goaded for it by his blue-blooded bitchy girlfriend (Sheryl Lee). Where things go from there is probably already obvious but I won't do a spoiler.
Jami is fine and sympathetic despite her rather mercenary motivation , ( later denied unconvincingly in the script ) although the role doesn't stretch her that much. McDermott is a good foil and has the charisma to convince while Lee and Philip Casnoff as Sal's reptilian boss ( the sort of role James Spader excels in ) do their bit as the villains of the piece.
It's thoroughly inessential viewing and takes a rather glib standpoint on class conflict but enjoyable enough on its own terms.
17. Twister (1996)
Jami returned to the silver screen as a supporting player after four years, two kids and plenty of TV work notably in Sibs. The good news was that this was a massive box office hit. The bad news was that Jami was nominated for a Golden Raspberry as Worst Supporting Actress for her contribution.
While not arguing that Jami is brilliant in this because she isn't, I think that was unfair because the role is terrible. She plays Melissa the fiancee of meterologist Bill (Bill Paxton) who comes out into the field with him to get divorce papers signed by his colleague and estranged wife Jo (Helen Hunt). While she's there the tornados arrive and you're expecting her to die any moment but she survives a few scrapes and then amicably gives up on Bill and exits the movie two thirds of the way through. It's a strangely pointless part and there was little chance of anyone impressing in it. Jami is noticeably older and a lot bulkier as well.
The film itself is entertaining enough with excellent special effects and a considerably less impressive script. Neither Paxton nor Hunt are likeable enough to make you care who lives or dies and Cary Elwes is a bit weak as their villainous rival. A decent date movie but not one that lingers long in the memory.
18. Seven Girlfriends ( 1999 )
After having another child and a stint in ER , Jami closed out the millennium with a small role in this romantic comedy. This was quite difficult to track down, perhaps because its main star Tim Daly failed to make it in films although he's pretty ubiquitous on US telly.
Daly plays Jesse whose girlfriend Hannah ( Olivia D'Abo ) breaks up with him when he takes a call from an ex Annabeth ( Laura Leighton ) moments before she's wiped out in a road accident. As he waits for the funeral Jesse - having presumably read High Fidelity - decides to visit all his other ex's to talk about what went wrong.
Although the film is not as clever as it thinks it is, it's still fairly enjoyable with some genuinely funny scenes and some neat plot twists. It's also got plenty of Crowded House on the soundtrack which is a plus. The little vignettes with the ex's are not equally absorbing - it's difficult to see what Katy Selverstone's character brings to the party for instance - but it mostly works. The action flits between present day, flashbacks and fantasy sequences but it does all tie up in the end if you stay alert.
Political correctness rears its ugly head a bit when Jesse finds that Elisabeth Pena has turned gay. After utterly humiliating him at her baby shower - a completely unfunny scene - she and her mates suddenly turn all sympathetic and caring without explanation other than the film's need to avoid leaving a negative impression of lesbians.
Tim Daly is droll but a little bland in the main role. Mimi Rogers and Melora Hardin are the pick of the girls acting-wise although we could do without the latter's little ballad halfway through. There's some brief topless action from Jennifer Gibson who I presume is British from her early appearances in Lovejoy and Love Hurts.
Jami plays one of the ex's though why Jesse needs to see her when he broke off the relationship isn't really explained. She does fine as the still-angry discard but she's only in it for about 10 minutes.
19. Lip Service (2001)
This dark and unsettling independent film gave Jami her best role for well over a decade.
She plays Kat an old college friend of yuppie Allison (Sybil Temtchine) who crashes the funeral of a mutual friend dishevelled and intoxicated. Allison invites her to crash at her place where it is revealed that Allison's success stems from reproducing a red plastic chair that Kat gifted to her in the confusing prologue. This is the weakest point of the film since the chair is absolutely hideous. Kat then proceeds to dismantle Allison's life as the comedy gets progressively darker until you cease to laugh at all.
Jami is very good indeed, maintaining the script's ambiguity as to whether Kat is deliberately engineering Allison's downfall as an act of revenge or merely following her feral instincts. It's also a physically demanding role as Kat is dirty and slutty throughout and eventually suffers a ferocious beating. The unknown ( to me anyway ) Temtchine is also impressive as she half-welcomes the upheaval Kat brings with her , at least up to the point where she is effectively raped by Kat's drug dealing boyfriend Sebastion ( Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje ) .
An impressive film but not one to watch with your mum.
By this time Jami had landed a good role on Ally McBeal ( which I'd given up on by that stage unfortunately ) followed immediately by a starring role in Still Standing so it was another five years before her next film.
20. Keeping Up With The Steins (2006)
This film saw Jami , now 40, returning to her roots as Joanne Fiedler the mother of a Jewish teenager preparing for his barmitzvah.
This is a good natured family comedy which is accessible to Gentiles without being hilariously funny to anyone. Benjamin ( Daryl Sabara ) is nervously awaiting a barmitzvah which his father (Jeremy Piven) is determined will top the one lavished on their son by his neighbours the Steins. This appallingly tasteless event forms the opening scene. Benjamin isn't sure he's ready for it at all and his father has his own issues to deal with when his errant father Irwin (Garry Marshall) shows up.
Jami's is the voice of reason in the film and it's a bit disappointing to find her in an undemanding character part although she fares better than Daryl Hannah who's totally unnecessary to proceedings as Irwin's girlfriend.
21. Dealin With Idiots ( 2013 )
HOUSE ! ! !
Yep, with this one I've finally seen every film my first subject has made, five + years after starting the blog.
Jami came back to films after a seven year break during which she appeared in the TV series Shark, Entourage and The Neighbors.
This is a low budget comedy, written, directed and starring comedian Jeff Garlin. No I've never heard of him either but he was in Curb Your Enthusiasm and directed some episodes. He also does a fair bit of voice acting and looks a bit like John Goodman.
Jeff plays Max, a comedian and film director ( not too much of a stretch I guess ) who decides to talk to the other parents and the coaches at his child's baseball club as research for a possible film project. That's it as far as the plot goes. Like CYE it's essentially a comedy of embarrassment with Max open-mouthed at the lifestyles and foibles of these eccentric characters like the self-important coach who runs the local print shop ( Bob Odenkirk ) and the foul-mouthed lesbian ( Kerri Kenney-Silver ) who accuses her partner of trying to turn their adopted son gay. I particularly liked Steve Agee as Hezekiah, the bearded weirdo who thinks he's on to something important. For different reasons I liked Deanna Brooks as one of two bikini-clad girls hanging round the pad of the team's other coach ( J.B. Smoove ).
The script was mostly improvised and it is funny in parts but runs out of steam after an hour when Max starts questioning his own parenting approach and the finale when he has to step in as coach is just plain boring.
For the first time in her career Jami ( who worked with Garlin on Entourage ) plays a thoroughly obnoxious character, a hustling sports mom trying to make a buck by providing refreshments to the team and too tight-fited to offer Max a lift home. She's pretty good and still in great shape.
Jami turns 50 next month.