Saturday, December 19, 2009

Going Berserk

(David Steinberg, 1983)
The most tragic thing about this movie is that once in a while there's a situation with some comic potential - like when John Candy is forced to wait in the hall while the guy he's handcuffed to has sex behind the door. Or when his cohort, now dead, is cornered by an acquaintance for a lengthy one-way conversation. Yes, that's the GOOD stuff - wrecked by overextension and formlessness - and it's downhill from there. What's intended as urbane tastelessness is just gross - Candy beating up some women at a beefcake show, African tribesmen singing "Blue Moon", a gratuitous "Leave it to Beaver" takeoff that prefigures "Natural Born Killers". All the name performers are wasted, and there's not a laugh to be had. But let's leave all that aside for a moment and ponder the following sequence. We're a little over an hour in. Candy meets with his girlfriend (utter nonentity Alley Mills) to apologize for his smutty behaviour under hypnosis at the wedding rehearsal; she is visibly upset. Then the hypnosis kicks in again, and in the middle of his apology he attacks a waitress and gets on stage to sing a song about his penis. And in spite of the laborious setup, Mills does not react; in the next scene they're strolling happily along without discussion or incident. Rarely in the annals of cinema has there been a sequence that screamed 'troubled production' with more volume or clarity; who knows what other atrocities the doctors inflicted in post. But it's clear that they were operating on a cadaver from the git. Perhaps tellingly, the soundtrack features a collaboration between Tom Scott and Lee Ving!

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