Wednesday, 13 May 2009
This film's uninspiring moniker kept it off my radar somewhat and it was only after half an hour that I managed to convince myself I hadn’t seen it before. Familiarity can be a problem with films like this as you can get confused between the parody and the films that it lampoons - especially if the laughs are so thin that you have to check that you are indeed watching the comedy version.
What you have is a slapstick parody of adventure films in the vein of ‘Spy Hard’ and ‘Airplane’. Unfortunately the chosen genre is somewhat vague to you get films like ‘Field of Dreams’ getting a nod along side ‘Braveheart’. Being a movie fan I think I got most of them but some were so obscure and fleeting you have to wonder if they were intentional or if someone in a baseball uniform walking into some corn counts as a parody, homage or free usage of the costume box.
The film roughly follows the plot of ‘The Fugitive’ with ancient white haired gag man Leslie Neilson taking on the Harrison Ford role. He is a successful violinist and is framed for the murder of Michael York who seems to be doing his Basil Exposition routine again. Neilson, who is having an affair with the victim’s wife, is caught at the murder scene after being knocked out by a one armed, legged and eyed assassin.
After a speedy trial he manages to escape when the train transporting him crashes. He gets away and there is a funny sequence where the train keeps chasing him through the woods. Alas this is one of the few giggles and the remainder of the film concerns Neilson’s attempts to clear his name while trying to cram in as many movie references as possible, whether they are relevant and funny or not.
Films like this were well by their sell by date even in 1998 when this was made. Of course they are still churned out with crap like ‘Superhero Movie’ still doing the business. I tittered perhaps twice throughout a number easily surpassed by the cringe worthy moments where a ‘clever’ movie parody was effortlessly slotted in - crop duster plane from ‘North By North West’ anyone? Thought not.
As mentioned the references were all over the place with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ seemingly fitting the title’s broad remit as well as ‘Clear and Present Danger’. The laughs expected here are ones of familiarity, because nothing is added to liven things up. It’s basically - 'look what we did, that’s from another film you know’.
Most of the comedy from the film was of the low brow variety with people kicked in the nuts and banged on the head on a regular basis. We also get numerous prop gags and familiar sexual situations gone wrong such as Neilson writhing with pleasure as a lady goes down on him only for her to tie his shoe laces. It’s clearly aimed at a juvenile audience and that kinda makes most of the movie references redundant. You could argue it’s for all the family but only if your family are a bunch of morons.
The cast are pretty dreadful with Neilson doing his now routine deadpan idiot shtick while those around him get bashed about Laurel and hardy style. It is a mercifully short 80 minutes or so and although you will see more offensive or poorly made stuff, you’d need to go a long way to see anything less funny or more pointless.
Best Bit : Stalker Train
‘W’ Score : 7/23