Friday, June 23, 2017

Amazon Women on the Moon

By the 1980s, the comedic "anthology" film was already long out of vogue.  The blackout skit genre had a brief heyday the decade before.  Its demise was hastened by a stable of putrid, cheaply made movies like CAN I DO IT, 'TILL I NEED GLASSES?  So 1987's AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON was a surprising effort, not because it was better than expected but because anyone bothered at all.  That John Landis, who oversaw one of the better entries, 1977's THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, directs several segments and is the film's presenter makes the movie all the more disappointing.

It tries, though.  Tries hard at times.  Many of the ideas are amusing. The cast is good.  Some skits kinda deliver.  A boy embarrassed to buy condoms at a pharmacy becomes their 1000th customer.  A man's eulogy is delivered by Siskel and Ebert-like critics.  A Playboy playmate describes her everyday life, and is shown going everywhere, even church, in the nude.  A black and white spoof of THE INVISIBLE MAN has its protagonist only thinking he is invisible.

Most of the gags fizzle: a missing baby in a hospital, Arsenio Hall as man having a bad day, a spoof of the old In Search Of... show (called "Bullshit of Not?"), that aforementioned eulogy that turns into a roast (complete with the likes of Rip Taylor and Henny Youngman) and a young guy who rents a video of a girl who would be his real, live date play too long and don't realize their comic potential.  These segments wrap around the film's centerpiece, a fairly lame spoof of the old B-movie CAT WOMEN ON THE MOON playing on a local T.V. station.

The film just has no energy, no rhythm.  It's as if the writers and directors (who also include Joe Dante and Carl Gottlieb) and their actors downed a brandy and a Valium and then tried to be funny.  Attempts to be outrageous are mild at best.  There is no "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble" as in KENTUCKY FRIED, a movie that was fresh and innovative and even felt a little dangerous and subversive.  That sort of element was present in the early years of Saturday Night Live, too, and a few other knock-off sketch comedy shows like Fridays.  AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON by contrast is merely pleasant, easy to take.  You feel a few grins but mostly forced polite smiles.  You might hear yourself groan by the umpteenth time crooner Don "No Soul" Simmons shows up to pitch his whiter than white bread album.

There have been attempts over the years to bring back the short form comedy film, though unfortunately things like MOVIE 43 have been the result, a film I haven't seen but is almost unanimously panned by viewers.  Go back and watch KENTUCKY FRIED or THE GROOVE TUBE to see how it's done.   

P.S. The "Two I.D.s" segment, with Steve Guttenberg and Rosanna Arquette, nicely prefaces our current social media staurated/lack of privacy dominated 21st century culture.  
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