A Glenn Gordon Caron Film
A Baltimore Pictures Production
A Tri-Star Pictures Release
The Foudroyant brothers, Wilder (Arliss Howard) and Wallace (Dennis Quaid), share an amazing and unique talent: they can make flames roar into life just by thinking about them. No matches, no gasoline -- just their brain cells sparking and snapping with visions of fire. The brothers have something else in common: They both love the same woman -- Wilder's wife, Vida (Debra Winger).
Wilder and Wallace have been feuding for years, but Vida isn't the only issue that stands between them. Wallace wants to use his fiery gift to become rich and famous, while Wilder is dead set against either of them exploiting their awesome powers. Now, after five years on the road, Wallace is back in town for an incendiary showdown with his brother in the unique comedy Wilder Napalm, starring Debra Winger, Dennis Quaid and Arliss Howard.
Directing the TriStar Pictures Presentation of a Baltimore Pictures Production is Glenn Gordon Caron, creator of the innovative television series Moonlighting and director of the critically acclaimed film Clean and Sober. Mark Johnson and Stuart Comfeld are the producers of Wilder Napalm, which is written by Vince Gilligan, while Barrie M. Osborne serves as executive producer. The film also stars M. Emmet Walsh as the town's fire chief and Jim Varney as Rex, a carnival worker.
Wilder and Wallace Foudroyant have been at odds for years about whether or not to exploit their telekinetic powers for profit. Wallace wants to cash in by going public, via the TV talk show route, as "Dr. Napalm." But Wilder, haunted by a prank he and Wallace played as youngsters that left a man dead, is determined never to use his powers again. Over the years, he's also tried to put out most of the emotional fires within himself, smothering dangerous, incendiary passions like anger or joy. The closest Wilder ever gets to fire these days is when he douses flames as a member of the Mid-Lothian Volunteer Fire Department, or telekinetically lights the occasional cigarette for Vida.
"Like a lot of people, Wilder and Wallace are carrying baggage with them from their childhood," director Glenn Gordon Caron explains. "Wallace has always believed he's a freak, but just as our movie begins, he begins to suspect that perhaps this curse is a gift."
Wilder, though, has no such thoughts.
"Wilder is still very much crippled by what happened to him as a youngster," says Arliss Howard. "He truly believes he's cursed."
The object of the brothers' mutual affection is Wilder's wife, Vida, a fun-loving free spirit who is fascinated by fire. She truly loves the down-to-earth Wilder but is frustrated by his refusal to take advantage of his uniqueness. When Wallace, who's been traveling the country as a carnival clown, comes back to town after five years, Vida finds herself attracted to his dynamic personality -- and his plans to go public. Caron says, "Vida is someone who takes a bath in every second of life -- she's just filled with spirit."
"But where Vida is filled with life," Winger adds, "Wilder is filled with caution."
As different as they are, Vida and Wilder seem to be a perfect match. Producer Mark Johnson says: "Wilder is wounded; he doesn't avail himself of life as fully as Vida does. In that sense, they complete each other. "
It's only after Wallace comes back to town that Vida and Wilder's life together begins to show signs of strain.
"Just for a minute," Caron says, "Vida thinks, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful to be with someone who isn't in quite so much torment about himself? '"
When he realizes that he might indeed lose Vida, Wilder finally casts off his timid self-restraint and unleashes his terrible powers to fight for the woman he loves. Whether at the idyllic trailer park that Wilder and Vida call home or at the seedy carnival where Wallace and his fellow carnies have set up shop, nothing is safe from the great explosive gouts of flame the brothers hurt at each other.
"Most movies are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances," Winger says. "This one puts extraordinary people in those extraordinary circumstances."