The following post contains SPOILERS for the 1994 movie Disclosure. If you worried about spoilers for Disclosure, do not read further. Also, if you’re worried about spoilers for Disclosure, you should reassess your life priorities.
To the extent that Disclosure is remembered at all these days, it’s for its gender-swapped sexual-harassment storyline, and the related sex scene between Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. (As we all know, the true victims of sexual harassment are middle-aged married men.) The marketing for the film focused entirely on the erotic tension between the two glamorous stars. One poster featured Moore whispering something alluringly in Douglas’ ear. The other was less subtle. Neither stars’ face is visible, but Moore’s butt is front and center as she straddles Douglas on a desk.
The posters worked. Disclosure went on to gross some $85 million and another $129 million worldwide, the equivalent of $382 million in today’s dollars. That’s a solid total for any movie, but it’s especially impressive given Disclosure’s true subject matter. As it turned out, the sex scene (and there really is just one in the entire movie) serves as the window dressing on a story about corporate infighting at a Seattle computer company. And it all climaxes in what really must be one of the goofiest scenes in any Hollywood movie of the 1990s, when Michael Douglas solves a mystery with… virtual reality.
It does not make much more sense in context, but let’s at least try to set the stage. Douglas’ character, Tom Sanders, is a midlevel executive at a company called DigiCom which is in the process of merging with one of its rivals. Tom, who’s happily married to a supportive wife (Caroline Goodall), expects to be promoted to the head of his division, a move that will make him rich. Instead, on the day the announcement is to be made, he finds that the position he wants will instead be given to Meredith Johnson (Moore), a rising star from another office. Even worse, Meredith and Tom are former lovers. Now Meredith will be Tom’s boss.
Things get more awkward when Meredith invites Tom up to her office for a drink celebrating her first night in Seattle. She immediately forces herself on him. Tom pleads with her to stop but doesn’t exactly resist, at least until they’re about to have actual sex. Finally, he pushes her away and leaves. The next morning, Tom discovers that Meredith has preemptively accused him of sexual harassment and begun a legal proceeding that could cost him his stock options and his job. He lawyers up and accuses her right back, hoping that DigiCom’s fear of bad publicity will give him an advantage in mediation and a chance to salvage his life in Seattle.
That all makes sense, given Disclosure’s premise and basis in a high-profile novel from Michael Crichton. What does not make sense is that the the mediation surrounding the sexual harassment case is essentially resolved with more than 30 minutes left in the movie. In Disclosure’s final act, Tom discovers that Meredith’s harassment wasn’t sparked by her uncontrollable passion for his gorgeous mullet. As it turns out, Meredith’s attempt to seduce him was a calculated move. Under orders from shadowy forces within the executive ranks at DigiCom, Meredith deliberately set Tom up in order to fire him as a scapegoat for a persistent hardware problem that could ruin the proposed merger. The mysterious issues Tom’s division has had with their sluggish new CD-ROM drive? They were all secretly caused by Meredith, and a deal she made with the Malaysian government. Tom learns this vital information at the last possible moment when Meredith conveniently and very loudly explains her evil plan to her lawyer in the DigiCom office gym while Tom can eavesdrop on her.
Meredith, manipulative beauty that she is, has used the harassment suit to revoke Tom’s computer access, meaning he can’t find the evidence he needs to prove his innocence on his office’s computer. He realizes the files he needs can only be accessed using DigiCom’s prototype virtual reality helmet. He sneaks into the hotel room where the VR equipment is stored and fires it up.
And that’s when the fun begins. That’s when Michael Douglas becomes a hero of cyberspace looking like this:
Michael Douglas: Techno Warrior!
Once he has his mega-cool virtual glasses on, Tom is able to access DigiCom’s Malaysia files. The journey to the files is treacherous, though, as Tom nearly falls off the edge of a virtual-reality corridor and down a virtual-reality abyss.
The scene only gets more absurd from there. While Tom looks through the files in VR, Meredith is at her office computer, manually deleting the same materials from the system. And when she does that, a version of her shows up in virtual reality looking like, well, this…
To reiterate: This is the big climactic “action” scene of the entire movie. It all builds to Tom sneaking into a VR room and uncovering this easily-located virtual smoking gun he can use to clear his name and bring down Meredith. And it looks like this!
What’s most perplexing about all this is the way Disclosure, which is otherwise a very straight-faced movie, plays what should be its shocking twist for total comedy. It’s not just that the computer graphics are dated. (They were designed by Industrial Light and Magic and were fairly cutting edge for 1994.) Director Barry Levinson seems to have staged the whole sequence as a goof. He doesn’t just show Douglas’ digital avatar perched on the edge of a bottomless CGI pit, he cuts back to the real Douglas in that hotel room flopping around, making him look absolutely idiotic for being tricked by this feeble technology. Then, while Tom watches a recording of an incriminating phone call, a digital Demi Moore sneaks up behind him the least threatening, most hilarious way imaginable. It’s like Homer Simpson backing up into the bushes in reverse.
Levinson is a skilled director; his credits include Diner, Rain Man, and The Natural. The guy knows what he’s doing. He knows when he has that Demi Moore sneak up on that Michael Douglas, there is only one logical response, and that is laughter. Maybe he saw what even top-of-the-line CGI was giving him and realized there was no hope for this scene except as a camp-tastrophe. Maybe he sensed that the entire premise of this movie was ludicrous from the moment a woman spends her first night in her new job trying to bump uglies with Michael Douglas on a pile of old paint cans. At that point, the only way to get out alive was to slyly mock its “dramatic” conclusion from within.
No matter why he did it, he did it. And what he did is give us one of the true so-bad-it’s-good highlights of ’90s mainstream cinema. After Tom finds this evidence and escapes from the VR hotel room, he gives a speech at a DigiCom shareholders meeting where he saves his job and gets Meredith fired all at once. (Apparently, she deleted all the evidence, except an extremely incriminating network news broadcast. Whoops!) I have to believe that if more people knew about this ending Disclosure’s reputation as a forgettable erotic thriller would change very quickly. I will never forget the sight of Michael Douglas in futuristic CGI glasses running away from a wireframe with an 8×10 of Demi Moore’s face pasted on the head.
Every Movie Theater Candy, Ranked From Worst to Best
26. Red Vines
I’m not sure why Twizzlers vs. Red Vines are even a debate. The only reason anyone would pick a box of Red Vines over a bag Twizzlers is if they’d never eaten a Twizzler before. They taste like expired cough medicine that’s congealed into solid form.
25. Mike and Ike
There are many fruit-related candies available at the movie theater concession stand and, in my mind, Mike and Ike is the least appealing of them all. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one that tasted fresh. They can update the packaging all they want; the little nuggets inside still taste like they’ve been sitting in one of those bowling alley vending machines for 25 years.
24. MIlk Duds
Milk Duds aren’t bad, they’re just … a lot. They get stuck in your teeth and clog up your mouth. If you buy Milk Duds you are also committing to buying a $8 drink, because no one can eat an entire box of Milk Duds dry. It’s scientifically impossible. Your throat would explode.
21. Gummy Bears
Concessions tend to come in giant bags, which is great for some snacks and bad for others. Gummy bears are great in small portions, but have you ever eaten an entire bag of them? It’s just too much gummy bear.
19. Welch’s Fruit Snacks
A stronger alternative to Gummy Bears, with more varied (and more natural-tasting) fruit flavors. Plus they advertise that “Fruit Is Our 1st Ingredient!” so you can almost trick yourself into believing you are eating healthy.
18. Reese’s Pieces
Reese’s Pieces do have the movie connection with their crucial supporting role in E.T., but they are one of the weaker Reese’s products. Now if they sold Reese’s cups or those Crispy Crunchy Bars, we might really have something.
Solid and underrated. My one big gripe? The name. “Lemonheads” sounds like a slang for some unspeakable body part. If they were called something else, they would be at least five spots higher on the list.
16. Good & Plenty
I fully recognize that licorice is an extremely divisive candy. Some love it, and some hate. I love it, and I love Good & Plenty at the movies. The concession stand version is gigantic, and because their licorice flavor is so strong, it takes a long time to eat the whole bag; this is one snack you won’t finish before the end of the trailers. Plus: They’re fat free!
They’re fine and all, but c’mon — they’re almost fruit. No one wants to eat healthy in a movie theater. That’s why you go to the movie theater: It’s a place you can eat garbage in the dark, where no one can see you and judge you.
13. Hot Tamales
Another love-it-or-hate-it option that this author enjoys. They have a nice, snappy texture, and a refreshing alternative to so many other candies that are so heavy with sugar they make you desperately thirsty.
12. Sweetart Ropes
A relatively new addition to the movie candy universe — and a surprisingly good one. These don’t taste much like chalky old SweeTarts to me — they used to be sold under another name — but I guess even the concession stand is not immune to the demands of branding. Whatever you want to call them, it’s very easy to devour an entire bag.
An absolute classic, and the bag you get at the movie theater for like $12 lasts you a hefty portion of the movie. Would be higher on our list if they hadn’t replaced the lime Skittle with green apple a few years ago, thus rendering Skittles Dead To Me Forever.
8. Buncha Crunch
Most miniature version of chocolate bars are inferior products, designed to appease kids on Halloween. Buncha Crunch might be the only instance where the derivative candy is actually superior to the original. Why would you eat a Crunch bar when you could pound handfuls of Crunchies instead? There’s no comparison.
The classic. Every variety is good (except maybe those weird cherry ones). One idea that someone should do: Create an M&Ms dispenser at the theater (sort of like the Coca-Cola Freestyle soda fountains) where you could create your own custom bag, and mix (just for example) plain with mint and pretzel.