The Temp

The Temp (1993)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Timothy Hutton, Lara Flynn Boyle, Faye Dunaway

Is it possible for a good cast to ruin a movie? That improbable sounding situation appears to take place in the newly released ’The Temp’ from Paramount Home Video, where a stellar group of actors muddle what could have been a great ’bad’ movie. In ’The Temp’, Oscar and Golden Globe winner Timothy Hutton plays Peter Derns, an executive at Mrs. Appleby’s Cookies. When his receptionist goes out on family medical leave, he is given a temp, Kris Bolin (Lara Flynn Boyle). Peter is immediately taken by Kris’ beauty, but is eventually even more impressed with her business savvy. Kris aids Peter in a new marketing campaign, and their promising results are noticed by company chief Charlene Towne (Oscar and Golden Globe winner Faye Dunaway). But, when things begin to go awry and the other executives are pressuring Peter, strange thing happens — they start to turn up dead. Has Kris taken her affection for Peter and her drive to be number one so far that she would turn to murder? Peter must do some detective work to save his job, and possibly his life.

The idea of a killer secretary is an interesting one and ’The Temp’ could have been good, campy fun. But, the film is played very straight, so it comes off as bordering on ridiculous. And to make matters worse, this ridiculous material is coming out of the mouths of actors who should know better. It’s painful to see award-winning actors wading through this silliness, and the impressive supporting cast with actors like Oliver Platt and Maura Tierney simply makes things worse. Director Tom Holland had shown such promise with ’Fright Night’ and ’Child’s Play’, but he definitely stumbles here, robbing this film of a much-needed dose of humor. But, ’The Temp’ isn’t all bad. The finale is suspenseful and Boyle does a great job as the psycho-secretary. Actually, this film is more enjoyable now than it was upon its initial release, simply due to the fact that Boyle has become a more well-known celebrity and at times trades on her ’bitchy’ attitude. So, fans of ’The Practice’ can get an early taste of art imitating life with ’The Temp’.

Despite the fact that this is a bare-bones disc, with no extras whatsoever, the technical quality of the transfer on ’The Temp’ DVD certainly lives up to Paramount’s standards. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen format and has been letterboxed at 1.78:1. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain at times. There is no overt evidence of artifacting or edge-enhancement, and the colors are very good. The image has a great deal of depth due to its clarity. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is good as well. The dialogue is clear and there is no distortion on the track. The surround sound effects are plentiful and the stereo separation is very good. For a great example of the audio on this disc, simply go to Chapter 13, where the audience is drawn to certain sounds in the exact same manner as Hutton’s character. A technically impressive disc for a sorely flawed film.