If you aren’t listening to the Podcast “How Did This Get Made” with Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas, you are missing out. Not just because these are three of the best comic minds I’ve ever heard take a movie apart (they don’t really “Riff” MST3K style, so I’m not disparaging my childhood hero Crow T. Robot), but because they expose me to levels of terrible movie that I previously might never have known existed. And for that I am eternally grateful. However, when I watched this particular film, I couldn’t resist writing my own take. I’m publishing this today just so that I won’t be tempted to borrow observations from them when the episode is released tomorrow.
Also, the movie’s available on Amazon Prime if you didn’t get that from the title.
SYNOPSIS (IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO SPOIL THIS FILM)
The movie starts with a cultish rally of the minions of psychopathic hermaphroditic (masculine pronouns) nightclub singer and supervillain Velvet von Ragnar (Gene Simmons). If you aren’t sold just from that sentence, you don’t have music in your soul. Ragnar discovers that a key component to his plans to poison the water supply of Los Angeles has been stolen by Secret Agent Drew Stargrove (George “This was a paycheck” Lazenby). Ragnar ends up killing Stargrove, only for him to have already gotten rid of the component. After the funeral, his gymnast son, Lance Stargrove (John Stamos), finds out that part of his father’s will is a farm whose only resident is Danja Deering (Vanity of Vanity 6), another secret agent that he rescues from Ragnar’s leather-clad henchmen. Together, they foil Ragnar’s eeeeeeeeevil scheme, with the help of Lance’s roommate, convenient super-genius inventor, Cliff (Peter Kwong).
This movie is everything. There should be ballads composed to celebrate it. There should be national holidays dedicated to it on which people consume copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine so that they can hit the proper state of Zen that resulted in its creation. I’d say there should be a song just celebrating the main character, but, oh wait, THERE’S ONE ALREADY IN THE FILM. Yes, Lance has his own theme song during the opening credits as he displays his ultra-super-gymnast skills and it is every 80s pop music theme. And, you lucky bastards, I found you a copy of it:
Lance is basically one of those characters who has been training for this job his entire life without knowing it. He is a gymnast, can fight reasonably well, has a collection of gadgets that his roommate randomly invents that all turn out to be useful, shoots nearly perfectly, does motorcycle stunts, has a quick… well not really wit, but what the movie wants you to think is wit, and has the hair of a young John Stamos. He’s basically a prefab action hero, albeit in the vein of Gymkata. All of this despite ostensibly never knowing what his father does for a living.
Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that Gene Simmons wrote all of Ragnar’s lines, because he is so into the role that all the ridiculous crap he’s saying comes off as sincere… which makes it so hilarious I had to pause the film to finish laughing. Compared with all the other films I’ve watched him in, this is the most in-character I’ve ever seen him. (Good Rule of Thumb: If Simmons’s character has a name in the film you’re watching, it’s not a good film). His outfits would make RuPaul either angry or jealous. There is no in-between. Also, he has whatever random ability the scene requires. He’s a master of disguise, a supergenius, has an evil empire, is ridiculously strong, is a master of infiltration, and also sings like Gene Simmons (okay, that last one makes sense). He should have already enslaved humanity before the movie started. Also, I’m like 90% sure that Gene Simmons wrote the IMDB summary for this film.
The supporting characters are all as 80s as it gets. Ragnar’s henchmen are either leather-clad goons leftover from The Warriors or the uptight evil scientist played by… Robert Englund? Yes, despite only being 2 movies into the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Freddy Krueger appears in this film. And, to be fair, he’s far and away the best actor. George Lazenby is only in the movie for a few minutes, but, since he was James Bond, his portrayal of a superspy is pretty on-point. Vanity… well, she’s every 80s female spy. She’s super tough and confident at the beginning, but, of course, her incompetence and tendency to not be fully clothed gets her captured so the guy can save her despite her spending years as a secret agent and him being a gymnast who hasn’t killed anyone before this. And yes, she “thanks” him for saving his life. I’m sure glad women’s roles have improved (*glares at camera*). Actually, they have, but this was a really low bar. And then there’s Cliff.
Cliff is Q except that he spends his time just supporting Lance rather than becoming rich or saving the world. He makes several devices during the film, including the laser-flamethrower which he uses during the climax, which should have made him wealthy, rather than just helping his buddy cheat at chemistry tests. He also has zero problems following Lance into an armed refinery filled with gun-toting psychos and killing a bunch of them. I think following his story would be so much more interesting than the actual story, because he’s definitely going to take over the world after the credits roll.
There is also one scene that absolutely needs to be addressed. When Lance turns Danja down the first time, she attempts to seduce him by wearing a bikini, oiling herself up, taking her top off, and hosing herself down, all while Stamos walks into the house 3 times, each time coming out with a different food or drink item. Finally, he gives in and the sex scene that follows is… weird and confusing, since it makes it seem like he throws her on the bed like 3 times. Even for film sex scenes with gratuitous nudity, this is crap. However, it’s crap with boobies, John Stamos, and saxophone music, making it thoroughly enjoyable.
Overall, obviously, I loved this film. Everyone involved clearly seemed to think they were making a much better film, which is the hallmark of a “so bad, it’s good” movie. Give it a try sometime.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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