Modern Problems (1981)

Modern Problems (1981)

Taglines: A broken-hearted man + amazing moving powers = Out-of-control fun.

Jealous, harried air traffic controller Max Fiedler, recently dumped by his girlfriend, comes into contact with nuclear waste and is granted the power of telekinesis, which he uses not only to win her back, but to gain a little revenge.

Modern Problems is a 1981 American fantasy comedy film written and directed by Ken Shapiro and starring Chevy Chase, Patti D’Arbanville and Dabney Coleman. The film grossed $26,154,211 in the United States. A DVD release of the film was issued in 2005.

About the Story

Max Fiedler (Chevy Chase) is an air traffic controller at New York’s Kennedy Intl. Airport whose life is slowly going down the drain. His girlfriend, Darcy (Patti D’Arbanville), has just left him because of his jealousy. Now, everywhere he goes he seems to run into her with another man, driving him nuts.

One night while he’s driving home from a party at a gay nightclub in Lower Manhattan, a tanker truck spills nuclear waste onto his car and through his open sunroof, covering him with glowing green goo. The next day, he notices that he has developed telekinetic powers. With this newfound discovery, Max decides to put his powers to use by striking back at his tormentors to win back the love of Darcy.

He is asked to spend the weekend at the summer beach house of a paraplegic friend (Brian Doyle-Murray), who has also invited some other friends, including Max’s ex-wife Lorraine (Mary Kay Place) as well as his ex-girlfriend, plus self-confidence author and womanizer Mark Winslow (Dabney Coleman) who has designs on Darcy. Winslow constantly demeans and derides Max, while trying to seduce Darcy (although his egomanical bragging and unabashed nudity just seems to alienate her).

Max gets his revenge by using his powers to humiliate his rival, meanwhile freaking out the other guests. Finally, he sees himself becoming a monster, and by a fortuitous stroke of lightning his powers are transferred to Dorita, the voodoo-practicing maid (Nell Carter). Max’s girlfriend forgives him and he realizes that she truly does love him.

Modern Problems Movie Poster (1981)

Modern Problems (1981)

Directed by: Ken Shapiro
Starring: Chevy Chase, Patti D’Arbanville, Dabney Coleman, Mary Kay Place, Nell Carter, Brian Doyle-Murray, Mitch Kreindel, Sandy Helberg
Screenplay by: Ken Shapiro, Tom Sherohman
Production Design by: Jack Senter
Cinematography by: Edmond L. Koons
Film Editing by: Michael Jablow
Set Decoration by: Anne D. McCulley
Music by: Dominic Frontiere
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 25, 1981