Going Undercover

Henry Brilliant (Chris Lemmon) is having a rough time. His private eye business is failing, he is in debt to almost everyone and when he is given a job he messes it up.

His luck seems to change when he is hired by Maxine De La Hunt (Jean Simmons) to look after her petulant stepdaughter Marigold (Lea Thompson) during a trip to Europe. Not realising he has been chosen because of his incompetence rather than despite it, he is thrilled. Her father, a scientist, is away on business and there is an air of mystery surrounding him and his whereabouts.

Henry's charge is less cooperative than he expected. She proceeds to torment him, leading her hapless guardian on a wild goose chase around the seedier side of European cities.

At some point, Marigold and Henry appear to stop bickering, discovering that they actually quite like each other. What led them to this conclusion is unclear, as there is no apparent sexual chemistry between the pair at all.

When she is kidnapped, things become more serious. Bumbling Henry discovers that the kidnappers actually work for Marigolds stepmother, who is in league with the Nazis and trying to steal her husbands yellow papers which describe how to control the weather (explaining the strange weather they have been having lately). Marigold, for safekeeping (?), is taking the coveted papers to Europe to give to her father at a weather conference. Sound complicated? It is. We see that Henry was hired as a cover, to protect the stepmother from any accusations of foul play. Unfortunately for her, he proves more proficient than she had expected.

It all climaxes on a gory roller coaster ride in Copenhagen. Between them, Marigold and Henry save the day, escaping the hands of her evil stepmother and her Nazi cronies, safely delivering the yellow papers to her father for the all-important conference.

Mixing noir-ish elements of cinematography with what seems like footage from a not funny Weekend at Bernies, the film appears to lose itself half way through. On one hand it tries to be a light-hearted romp, while on the other it attempts a tense conspiracy type thriller. Hence, it achieves neither.

Lea Thompson, of Caroline in the City fame, gives a good performance, but the overall standard of the film is a far cry from her previous Back to the Future. Chris Lemmon does fairly well with what material he has, but this film is a lemon indeed.

Going Undercover was also known as "Yellow Pages" in the UK and Europe.


This film had potential and a talented cast. Its a shame the script is so poor and they couldn't just choose a genre and stick with it. Only worth a rewind if you are a real 80s film fanatic.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Surprisingly good cast, a few stunts

Weaknesses? Poor script

Our rating: 6 out of 10

Review Written by Sian Thatcher:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Sian Thatcher
Going Undercover