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Surprise! This movie still stinks 30 years later



When people give me grief for the hatred I heap upon The Material Girl, I usually respond with just two words. No, not those words. These words: Shanghai Surprise.

Released on Aug. 29, 1986, Shanghai Surprise co-starred then-newlyweds Madonna and Sean Penn. 30 years later, ‘80s fans don’t know what’s harder to believe - that Penn could make a bad movie in the ‘80s or that anyone would believe Madonna playing a missionary.

The scorn was nearly universal. Shanghai Surprise was nominated for six Golden Raspberry Awards (with Madonna winning one for worst actress). The movie holds a 14 percent “fresh rating” at Rotten Tomatoes.

New York Times
film critic Janet Maslin, writing in her review, did note one positive thing about Shanghai Surprise: “You can watch it (in theaters) in near-total privacy.” (The movie recovered only about $3 million of its reported $17 million budget at the box office.)

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Shanghai Surprise on its 30th anniversary:

1. Former Beatle George Harrison was the film’s executive producer and performed five songs on its soundtrack. He also makes a cameo early in the movie as a lounge singer.

2. Meanwhile, Madonna, who usually contributes at least one song to every movie appears in, didn’t contribute at all the soundtrack. (And alas, the original soundtrack was never released.) She did, however, sing a song for another Penn movie in 1986 - At Close Range.

3. Though Penn’s movie career had already taken off by 1986, he wasn’t the producer’s first choice for the lead role. (Tom Hanks was.)

4. Filming of some interior scenes had to be moved from Macau to London after Penn kept scuffling with the press on the set. Another "surprise," right?

5. Madonna’s Razzie award was the first of two consecutive wins for her. She won it again in 1987 for Who’s That Girl?


[Last modified: Monday, August 29, 2016 9:01am]


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