No Small Affair (1995) from Brainscan, Tuna, and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Brainscan's notes in white


So if I told you there was a movie in which Demi Moore at 21 years of age goes topless and so does the woman who played Ginger on Gilligan's Island, you would say, "No way."


It's called No Small Affair, and it was made in 1984.

Now, there is a problem... or two.

  1. Demi's exposure is brief, dark and shot through the headboard of a bed. Not quite so difficult to see as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but close.
  2. Well, the actress who played Ginger isn't Tina Louise. It was the woman who took over for her in Rescue from Gilligan's Island and Castaway on Gilligan's Island. Her name is Judith Baldwin and even though she was 37 when the movie was shot she looks flat-out terrific. Well, flat is not the word to use for this woman. Wonderful body. Judith has stayed very active in Hollywood, even though she is not a household name.

About the movie:

This is a teen romantic comedy, in which Jon Cryer plays a 16-yr-old (he was 19 at the time) who courts a 21-yr-old singer played by Demi. Well, sorta "courts", but not really. More like he helps her with her career. And as a reward she boffs him at the end of the movie. Thing is filled with an excellent cast but it just sits there and dies. I hate teen angst romances, from the worst ones up to and including Romeo and Juliet. So you have to take that into consideration when I tell you I wouldn't watch this movie again if Demi had blown Mr. Cryer on camera.

Part of the problem is Cryer. He was the poor man's Matthew Broderick. Even played a character a little later in his career who was meant to remind us of Ferris Bueller, but no one can remember the name of the thing. Not even me.. and I just looked it up on IMDb. Oh yeah, something like Morgan Stewart Comes Home. Or Leaves Town. Something like that. Cryer was more than okay as a supporting actor in a whole bunch of films, but he couldn't do the heavy lifting of being the lead. Don't ask me why. In No Small Affair, he is just so odd I couldn't imagine any woman, much less a living doll like Demi, giving him the time of day. For certain she would never give him a roll in the hay.

So the movie was frigging painful to watch. Shot in San Francisco by someone who thinks San Francisco is oh so very pretty to look at. Note to director: next time shoot a travelogue. It wastes the talents of George Wendt and Demi and a host of other first-rate character types. Self-consciously quirky, unamusing ... the bloated carcass of a beached whale in San Francisco harbor... that's No Small Affair.


DVD info from Amazon

  • No features except the original trailer
  • The widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced



See the main commentary above.

Tuna's notes in yellow



Jon Cryer is a junior in High School. Although he is not completely unaware of girls, his passion is photography. As the film opens, he is shooting on a wharf, and asks a couple to get out of his shot. Seems he doesn't relate much to people and never photographs them.

When he gets home, he finds that he has photographed the woman, and falls in love with her from afar. He now has two obsessions, finding the girl, and saving enough money so he can move to Milan and become a photographer. Meanwhile, his brother arrives with a new girl on his arm, and announces that they will be married in two weeks. The couple drag Cryer to North Beach for a night on the town, and he finally gets into one club with a fake ID. As movie luck would have it, the lead singer is the girl he has been looking for (Demi Moore).

A word or two about North Beach is in order here, for those not familiar with it. In the late 60s, it was an entertainment Mecca, with a full range of nightspots, including Carol Doda's Condor club, The Hungry i folk club (with the likes of The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary regularly appearing), The Committee (an improv theater), Casa Madrid (flamenco guitar and dancers, and cheap sangria by the pitcher) and a couple of adult theaters. The area shifted quickly in the 70s to become primarily adult entertainment. By the time this film was made, it was one of the topless/bottomless capitals of the United States. I've seen only one remaining strip club these days -- the Hungry i. That background establishes the economics that the club owner (George Wendt) was facing with an unknown singer in an unknown band. He had to compete with all the strip clubs to sell booze, or he was out of business. It is no wonder that, when the lead guitar player (and Moore's boyfriend) quit the band and accepted a studio musician job in LA, Wendt fired the entire group.

Cryer desperately wants to help the girl of his dreams, and to win her heart in the process. His big move doesn't immediately have the intended effect, but ...

At its core, No Small Affair is essentially a sappy romantic comedy about adolescent angst. However, the creators of this film made the most of that clay. They assembled an excellent cast (Wendt and Moore were joined by Jeffrey Tambor, and the film also featured the screen debuts of Jennifer Tilly and Tim Robbins, pictured to the right) to deliver some brilliant dialogue, used Vilmos Zsigmond as DP, filmed in picturesque San Francisco, and dubbed the sound track with real musicians.

Here was my favorite bit of dialogue.

He: "What size is your bra?"
She: "Multiply the length of your dick by ten, then add your IQ."
He (using all ten fingers trying to figure it out): "I ask her a simple question, and she gives me a math problem."

This premise could have resulted in a disaster, but it is more or less watchable, if not especially believable.

Scoop's notes in blue


Obviously, Brainscan and Tuna disagreed strongly on No Small Affair. It seems to me that this film is too inconsequential to spend much time on, but I thought it was decent. The great weakness of the film is that it's a romance in which the relationship of the two partners is utterly unconvincing. (Not to mention statutory rape, but they ignored such details back in the 80s.) And it isn't very funny either. Those facts alone should render the film unwatchable, but they really don't, despite the fact that its a romantic comedy which is neither romantic nor funny. As I view it, the film works as an offbeat, light-hearted character study, and is not an unpleasant way to pass the time if you are receptive to adolescent angst movies. If you don't like such movies, you should not make any effort to see it, but if someone forces you to sit through it, it probably won't be as bad an experience for you as it was for Brainscan ...

unless ...

 ... you are allergic to one or both of the two major time-bombs lurking within:

1. Jon Cryer. In general, I sympathize full well with what Brainscan wrote about Cryer, the perennially unfunny Matthew Broderick impersonator, but Cryer didn't bother me in this film. I'd say this is his most engaging performance. Cryer's biggest problem has always been that he tries too hard to be funny, and that can be painful to watch, but in this film he just sort of blended into the woodwork, played his part, trusted the material, and let the director focus on the better elements of the film.

2. Elevator music. Chrissy Faith provided some excellent saloon singing as Demi Moore's voice double. There are a lot of mellow "easy listening" vocals in this movie ("My Funny Valentine," e.g.). I mean a lot. Many minutes. Songs sung all the way through. The movie will therefore grate on you if you are one of the many who hate elevator-in-waiting music. Again, this didn't bother me. I liked Chrissy's vocals. There are also the inevitable musical montages, but I fast-forwarded through them.

The director of this film was Jerry Schatzberg, who was much better known for seventies-era dramas replete with social consciousness, like Scarecrow and Panic in Needle Park. There must be an interesting story behind his migration from serious Pacino films to fluff like this, but I don't know it. Maybe he was just leaving the narrow current of the seventies and swimming out into the open sea of the eighties, like the rest of us.

Overall, I have to side with Tuna in this debate. I have no enthusiasm for this minor movie, but watching it wasn't an awful way to pass the time.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed $5 million
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C-, a film which meets the minimum requirements for genre lovers.

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