First things first: I’m not sure if “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” belongs in the “I paid to see that” category or not.
While I did see the movie in the theater, I didn’t technically pay to see it. I used some gift certificates someone gave me. So I guess someone paid for me to see this.
All of this took place during the dog days of summer 1992, and with the Red Sox sucking again, and no money for new comics, my friend Nick and I decided to catch a matinée.
Luckily next to my apartment building, there was a small two screen theater called The Cameo. Actually the theater is still there, and I hear its been remodeled. But I haven’t been there in over a decade, so I don’t know what it looks like now.
Anywho, back then the Cameo theater showed new releases, and marines were dirt cheap. Not that it mattered since I was using my gift certificates. The two movies playing at the Cameo that weekend were “Single White Female,” and “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag.” Being 13 and 14 year olds, seeing “Single White Female” was out of the question, so Betty Lou it was.
If you weren’t around back then, or completely forgot about the movie, “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” is a 1992 comedy film directed by Allan Moyle. The film stars Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Thal, Julianne Moore, William Forsythe, Cathy Moriarty and Alfre Woodard. The plot revolves around Betty Lou (Penelope Ann Miller), a shy librarian in a small town. Her husband Alex (Eric Thal), is a police detective who takes her for granted.
One day, after a local crime kingpin is mysteriously murdered, Betty Lou finds the murder weapon. But since nobody takes her seriously, she can’t get anyone’s attention. I can’t remember if people just ignored her, or if they didn’t take her seriously. Either way, Berry Lou gets pissed, and in a fit of frustration, fires the gun in a restroom.
Betty Lou then taken to the police station where for some reason, she insists she is the murderer of the crime lord. I don’t know why, but the local cops believe her, and suddenly people start payung attention to her. Behind bars, Betty Lou meets a variety of hardened and colorful criminals. But instead of intimidating her, they actually help her self-confidence grow. With a few tips and a makeover from the hookers in her cell block, Betty Lou on her way. Once she is released, she begins to dress, speak, and act differently.
Everything looks good for our once shy librarian, even Alex seems to like the new Berry Lout. But unfortunately for her, criminal friends of the victim assume she must have killed him because she wa his mistress. Now the bad guys all want a few words with Betty Lou, and they’ll stop at nothing to get answers.
Nick and I saw “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” on a weekday afternoon, so the theater was not crowded. I think we were the youngest people there, and I’m pretty sure nursing home field trip was there as well. Oddly enough, most of the older people in the room never laughed, or reacted to the movie. Maybe because back then the Cameo consistently had sticky floors, and it confused them. Or perhaps it was because the theater always tasted like it was a week old.
Meanwhile, Nick and I were laughing our heads off. But not because we found “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” funny. We laughed because this movie was so damn bad. In other words: we laughed at the movie, not because of it. Part of it was due to the thin plot, and how some stuff made little sense. Like they way the cops just accepted Betty Lou was the killer, and almost nobody seems to question the situation.
I wanted to like “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” because I liked Penelope Ann Miller from her work in “Kindergarten Cop” and “Big Top Pee wee.” I just wished she’d been given better material to work with here. To be fair though, my problems with “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” have nothing to do with Penelope Ann Miller. She’s easily the best part of this movie.
Even though Nick and I thought “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” was a massive disappointment, the day was not a total waste. After we got back to my apartment, my mom gave us money so we could buy some pizza. We walked across the street to a place called Olympic Pizza, and while we waited for our food, some teenagers threw a brick through the window.
One of Olympic’s owners ran after the vandals, only to trip on the sidewalk, after wich he fell ass first into the broken glass. Nick and I just looked at each other and it was like “Did all that just happen?” It sure did, and it was by far a better show than “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag.”