Andy Sidaris season! Malibu Express (1985)

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Welcome to the wonderful world of Andy Sidaris! Making his name as a TV sports director, winning several Emmys for his work on the Olympics, and directing “Wide World Of Sports” for 25 years – if you’re wondering who pioneered “focus on a pretty girl in the audience of a sporting event”, it’s him – he also made a few movies in the 70s. He really went for it, though, starting in the mid 80s with a series of action movies usually starring former Playboy or Penthouse starlets, and usually filmed in Hawaii. It’s this series, collected in the “Girls, Guns and G-Strings” DVD box set, that we’ll be reviewing, and we started off with an absolute gem.

 

I feel I ought to get this out of the way first, but enjoyment of the movies of Andy Sidaris does not indicate agreement with what they do. Their occasionally sub-Neanderthal views of women and gay men are to be laughed at, not with, and provided you’ve got that fixed in your head (and have a high tolerance for nudity) I think there’s a heck of a lot to enjoy. There’s a sense of laid-back happiness about the whole enterprise, with a willingness to mock its own central character and plenty of weird little interludes.

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This is also apparently a remake of a previous Andy Sidaris movie, made in 1973, called “Stacey”. From what little information I can gather, that seems less sexist than this one, with the central character in that being split into two characters for this, with the woman remaining big-breasted eye candy and the guy getting to do all the actual plot stuff. But I digress! The star of this movie is Cody Abilene (Darby Hinton), a smooth-talking, handsome private investigator who we quickly establish, in quite a good running gag, can’t shoot worth a damn. We first see him with his case, full of gun, bullets, earplugs and fancy shooting glasses, he sets up…and misses the target every time, actually damaging the firing range mechanism with his last shot. We also learn he’s absolutely irresistible to women, and that is another message that gets hammered home (as it were) time and again. He actually refers to himself as getting raped a little later on when he goes to buy a new car and the owner of the car lot immediately shows him her breasts and demands he have sex with her; this is far from the stupidest thing this movie does.

 

The plot honestly feels like Sidaris had three unfinished scripts starring the same character and just decided to mash them together. Cody is friends with race-car driver June Khnockers (yes, that’s the correct spelling), and is helping her with preparing for a big race…only when he drives away, June and her friend look on admiringly and talk about what a fantastic driver he is…er, June, you’re a professional! Sorry, I can’t get sidetracked this early on, there’s a heck of a lot to talk about. Then that plotline gets dropped for about an hour and he starts a relationship with the beautiful Contessa Luciana (Sybil Danning), after she hires him to go and look after her friend Lady Lillian? This bit really made no sense. Lillian is rich and has tons of people living at her house, including a nephew, his wife, another woman whose relationship to the rest I totally missed, and the obviously bad-guy butler/chauffeur/house-boy, Shane. Pretty much by accident, he stumbles upon a plot to sell American computers to the communists, which is also being investigated by the female police officer he’s gym buddies with. I think. Shane owes the guy involved in selling the computers a ton of money (gambling debts) so decides to have sex with everyone in the house and blackmail them all. Yes, even the husband, who’s the worst-closeted gay guy ever (he gets done up in very good drag at one point and goes to visit his friend at a gay bar). Shane’s set-up involves enormous cameras that anyone could spot, and recording onto Betamax tape! Oh, and one of the villains hires Art “Commandant Mauser from Police Academy” Metrano and his two body-building sidekicks to kill Cody, which doesn’t go much of anywhere either.

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Cody Abilene mentions his Dad a heck of a lot, a Dad who never shows up at any point despite apparently being around; there’s also a pile of scenes with the Buffingtons, a family of rednecks who keep wanting to race Cody in whatever car he’s driving at the time, and are the most amazing group of stereotypes you ever saw. And I’m still leaving stuff out – this movie is absolutely packed with incident, and none of it is boring (like Cody using a porn line operator as his phone service). It’s certainly possible that Sidaris is laying groundwork for the rest of his cinematic universe – I notice his next movie has an “Abilene” in it, and a lot of his later films apparently feature the spy organisation L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies – but I’m really not sure. I think he was just having fun, and it’s really refreshing to see a movie which never sticks with anything long enough to bore the audience.

 

The references to the one gay character as “queer” or “faggot” would be more troubling if they weren’t coming from the mouth of the movie’s main villain (who’d already had sex with him); although Cody, when he sees him in dull drag, sniggers before complimenting his legs. It’s the amount of nudity and use of women as objects that ought to be the prime criticism of any sensible person, though. Virtually every woman in the movie throws themselves at Cody – the two gorgeous young women in the boat next to him, the woman who hires him, random women on the street, and so on – June Khnockers (never get tired of writing that name) strips off and tries to force herself on him while they’re involved in a high speed chase with a helicopter! Apart from Lady Lilian, every woman in this movie, at least once, strips off and insists on sex with the nearest available man, and they’re all, of course, hugely endowed. There’s also the casual reference to one woman as “body by Fisher, brains by Mattel” that had my wife gasping in shock. But it’s so relentless, that to me it passed through sexism and ended up in some weird new land. “Too daft to laugh at”, as the local saying goes.

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But the wonderful cherry on the crazy cake is the ending. After a series of events which don’t exactly wrap things up, we’re treated to a scene on Cody’s boat where he explains the plot to the remaining cast members! Sidaris perhaps looked at his footage, went “well, this is confusing, even to me” and then revealed the “twist”, which wasn’t even hinted at in the events up to that point. Marvellous!

 

I really enjoyed “Malibu Express” (which was an at-best confusing title, too). Hinton is a fine slightly nonplussed leading man, the ladies all play it broad, and a good time is had by all. Films this fast-paced, funny and odd don’t come along very often, and according to Sidaris fans there’s even better films to come. Pick up the “Girls, Guns And G-Strings” box set and watch along with me, why don’t you?

 

Rating: thumbs up

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One thought on “Andy Sidaris season! Malibu Express (1985)

  1. Pingback: Andy Sidaris season! Seven (1979) |

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