This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.
For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.
Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?
It seems like I keep starting these reviews with “Wooo…” or something like that. And that’s not an excited Ric Flair type “WHOOO!!”, but more of an “Oh, boy, that was really not something” kind of “woo…”. Or maybe it’s “Whew, at least that’s over with.”
I mean, okay, I put in a movie calledWacky Taxi, starring John Astin, most famously known as Gomez from the original Addams family, and all I know going in is that it’s about a guy who quits his dreary factory job in order to pursue his dream of starting his own taxi company.
So you start with a premise like that, and pretty much expect the rest of the review to be “hijinks ensue”. Except – well, apparently somebody forgot to include the hijinks.
Actually the first warning sign came before the movie even started when the blue “This movie is rated ‘G'” banner came up. Now I’ve been around long enough to know that a “G” rated movie from the 10s was allowed a lot more leeway than one today, when the score is basically reserved for animated kiddie-fare pablum. Even now, most family family films that are worth their weight in celluloid (hmmm… considering the rarity of actual celluloid in movie-making nowadays it may be worth more than it used to, but hey, go with me here) are at least PG rated. And for a movie like this – or at least the one I was expecting and hoping to get, at least a few boundaries need to be pushed or something at least needs to happen, and this “comedy” is pretty much the definition of “inert”.
The biggest problem is that the film spends way too much time bogged down in showingg us just how put-upon Astin’s character (who, for some reason we are never made aware of goes by the moniker “Pepper” – it certainly can’t be because he’s hot or fiery) is and how hard his struggles are to get his business going. Now, John Astin is certainly charming, to the point where when I was young I thought Gomez Adams was the definition of suave. After all, just look at his relationship with Morticia. Unfortunately, in this role as a put-upon Latino (seriously), Astin is disheveled and downtrodden to the point where even he can’t redeem the film.
And, of course, in keeping with the “family fun” nature of the movie, there is a pretty much out-of-nowhere happy ending that attempts to redeem all the hardship Pepper has endured, but actually just keeps him from learning any kind of lesson or facing up to what he has put his family through.
I’d love to give you a trailer just to give you a taste of just how not-wacky this movie is, but though the entire movie is available on YouTube, a simple trailer is not.
Up Next: The Swinging 70s Disk 2 Movie 3: Wacky Taxi– Gomez Addams