Friday, July 10, 2009

Film Review: STROKER ACE (1983, Hal Needham)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 96 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director Hal Needham (HOOPER, RAD, CANNONBALL RUN), Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson, Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle), Ned Beatty,
Tag-lines: "BURT'S BACK... With car crashin' & party crashin' as the hassled hunk who drives his car upside down & his women round the bend!"
Best one-liner: "What's a scrotum?"

Alright folks, I was disappointed. 'Well, what did you expect?,' some might say. Well, let's take a look at the poster, shall we? Probably the all-time greatest depiction of goosing. Burt: giggling away and goin' to town. Loni: shocked and appalled, but with the underlying knowledge that this is par for the course in a relationship with Burt.

It says so little and yet so much. It sparks the imagination. Can you imagine a GONE WITH THE WIND poster where Clark Cable is behind Vivien Leigh, goosin' away? Perhaps I digress. But, regardless, NOWHERE in this movie- this movie called 'STROKER Ace'- is there any goosing. I'm not asking for full-on finger/ass penetration here. I just want to see a little- SCHWINK- followed by Burt chewing his gum and giggling. Is that so wrong? So deviant? No more deviant, I would argue, than this ill-advised lampooning of celebrity hucksterism that Burt chose to do instead of TERMS OF ENDEARMENT.

There's a lot wrong here. First, there's Jim Nabors where Dom DeLuise ought to be. There's overuse of 'wuh WUHHHH' horn sections and underuse of Bubba Smith. There's terrible stock footage, "What's a scrotum?" is a one-liner, and some near-necrophilia is played for laffs with the line "This would be so much more fun if you were here!" Burt pulls off zany pranks like submerging a man in cement and flinging a rival through a plate glass window. It's frequently unclear if Loni Anderson realizes that she's in a film, or if she just thought it was 'one of those weird days where Burt calls me by another name and there's a camera crew around.' There's the consummate '40 person bar fight' and Burt gets to punch out the D-bag at the end and smile. (See HOOPER.)

Note the 'Okay' sign.

And it should all end on a- wait, there's no freeze frame?! Which is followed by the WORST blooper reel in Burt's history (though it does reveal that when Dom is not around to smack in the face, Burt smacks HIMSELF in the face). But then- whew- the bloopers end on a freeze frame. Still: only two stars. And that's kinda generous.

Lesson: Ya don’t substitute a good goose with bad chicken.

-Sean Gill

No comments: