Matinee (1993): Joe Dante’s Nostalgic Comedy, Starring John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton, Omri Katz

Joe Dante directed Matinee, a comedy about a William Castle-type independent filmmaker, set during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a backdrop.

Grade: B (***1/2 out of *****)


Theatrical release poster

The film stars John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton, Omri Katz, Lisa Jakub, Robert Picardo, Kellie Martin, and Jesse White (in his final theatrical film role).

It was written by Jerico Stone and Charles S. Haas, who portrays Mr. Elroy, a schoolteacher.

In October 1962, in Key West, Florida, Gene Loomis and younger brother Dennis live on a military base with their mother Anne while their father is away on a Navy submarine.

At a local movie theater, Gene and Dennis see a promo for exclusive engagement of producer Lawrence Woolsey’s sensational new horror film, entitled Mant! And, what’s more, Woolsey is scheduled to appear in-person at the theater the following Saturday.

After the boys return home to the base, the Loomis family watches President Kennedy deliver a speech confirming the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Meanwhile, arriving in Florida with actress girlfriend Ruth Corday, Woolsey finds the fearful atmosphere created by the ongoing crisis perfect for hosting Mant!’s premiere.

Though movieish (by design), Matinee was intermittently smart, funny, and disarmingly sweet, a feature made to order for movie buffs.  However, despite largely positive reviews, Matinee was a commercial flop, even failing to recoup its modest budget.


Directed by Joe Dante
Screenplay by Charles S. Haas, story by Jerico Stone and Haas

Produced by Michael Finnell