Johnny Suede (1991)

While it may be embarrassing to admit, as a pubescent young girl I made it my duty to seek out every single Brad Pitt movie in existence. Johnny Suede, then, was quite a nice surprise while mucking through the likes of The Favor and Across the Tracks. This movie is weird, and I’ve always liked weird.

Brad Pitt stars in one of his first major roles as the eponymous Johnny Suede, a dopey, broke fool who is obsessed with big hair, suede shoes, and Ricky Nelson. He manages to hook the ladies on what seems to be his good looks alone because, quite honestly, he doesn’t have much else to offer. He and his best friend, Deke, want to start up a band together – but the two have completely different ideas of what kind of music they should be making (some of the most hilarious moments of the movie are scenes where Suede is practicing his songs, all of which sound like they’ve come straight out of a 50’s jukebox).

From the beginning, it’s pretty clear that Suede is an opportunist: he takes money where he can get it, and all of his relationships are based solely on what the other person can offer him. Suede’s first girlfriend in this film is Darlette, whose mom (played by Tina Louise, a.k.a. Ginger from

Shit’s about to get freaky. Nick Cave & Brad Pitt in Johnny Suede.

Gilligan’s Island) works for a record company. After he botches up that relationship and loses his chance to give her his demo tape, he meets Freak Storm, played by none other than an albino Nick Cave (very freaky, indeed). Freak Storm represents what Johnny Suede is most likely to become if he continues living life the way he does: a washed-up musician who steals fried chicken out of the trash. Freak offers to send Johnny’s demo tape to a friend of his for only twenty dollars. Freak gets the money, but of course keeps it for himself – which ends up being just fine, because Johnny never gets him a tape, anyway.

In the end, the movie Johnny Suede and the character of the same name share a lot of similarities: they’re both aimless, inert, and meaningless. I’m not exactly sure what the point of the whole thing is. There are some weird things that happen (almost Lynchian weird, but not quite) but they don’t seem to add up to anything significant. This doesn’t actually take away from the enjoyment of the film, though – its quirkiness and Pitt’s absolutely, hilariously clueless delivery (which I’ve read is the basis for the director Tom DiCillo’s follow-up film Living in Oblivion) actually add to its charm. And, of course, it helps that Nick Cave is in it, too!


3 Responses to “Johnny Suede (1991)”

  1. 1 ladyfaceladyface
    September 28, 2012 at 3:20 am

    The first sentence of this post made me choke on my coffee.

    Also who would throw out fried chicken?

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