Kiss Daddy Goodnight's only real claim to fame is its casting of Uma Thurman in her first major film role. Shot on 16mm film by director Peter Ily Huemer, this odd independent film from 1988 has little going for it in terms of plot, production quality, and vision, yet Thurman's performance injects something into the experience that makes it worth watching. Thurman plays Laura, a mysterious girl with a face that belies her character's unsavory proclivities; living alone in some obscure apartment building, Laura takes care of herself by going to bars, accompanying seemingly wealthy men home, slipping them a mickey, and robbing them. She actually has a rather complete set of wigs, each identified by the name she adopts for her money-making excursions. Early on in the film, an old acquaintance named Sid (Paul Dillon) shows up and does his best to drag the movie down into oblivion by dressing and acting as if he were Rocky Balboa. Sid's character is a stone that drags this film down into the depths of futility, and the disjointed plot does basically nothing to help the situation. On the other side of Laura stands an older male neighbor named William (Paul Richards). His relationship with Laura is a friendly one, but his fondness for the younger lady never feels exactly right. Midway through the film, Laura finds herself being stalked by some unknown individual, and tragedy begins to emerge from the shadows. The final climax offers little in the way of surprise, and then a clumsy ending seals the deal on a generally unimpressive film.
Thurman, though, bears watching in this role. She really had little to work with here, swimming upstream against a plot that seemed intent on introducing basically senseless scenes whenever the film actually managed to draw one's interest. Sid spends the first half of the film looking for an old acquaintance named Johnny in hopes of putting together a band, making me question at the time why he was even in the film to begin with. Paul Dillon gives a pretty decent performance as the older man William, but the ending of the film does a lot of damage to the good work he put in early on. When all is said and done, Laura is the only character it seems possible to connect to, and Uma Thurman's impressive performance adds the layer of complexity necessary to make any part of this whole experience the least bit worthwhile; this is really a two-star film, but I'm giving it three stars solely on the basis of her performance. Uma Thurman fans would do well to seek this film out, as it is her first movie, but there's really no reason for the casual viewer to make a point of seeing Kiss Daddy Goodnight.