Or, as my wife memorably christened it, “the movie where they act better on the cover” (see above). After watching and thoroughly enjoying the lowest-of-the-low-budget “Over-Sexed Rugsuckers From Mars”, I decided to check out the next Michael Paul Girard movie, one I could only assume to be some sort of teen sex comedy. In other words, right up my street! What I found, though, was a movie I’m still struggling to describe with human words.
Bill is a nerd, sort of. Actually, saying that is crediting this movie with giving him some sort of consistent character. Bill is a human being, probably, and he’s been in love with Krissi, the “beautiful” cheerleader, for years. His friend Tim, who’s in love with new French exchange student Babette, tells him to just go for it, but Krissi is sort of going out with evil jock Tony, who’s solely interested in sex. Now, I feel I ought to pause things briefly, because I can already feel this movie slipping away from me and I’ve only recapped the first five minutes.
“Rugsuckers” was wonderful because while it was one of the cheapest movies ever made, all the handmade odds and ends added to that “labour of love” feel. The most generous possible reading wouldn’t call this movie a labour of love. From the very first minute, the supposedly upbeat, fun activity on screen (cheerleaders, people ogling cheerleaders, jocks doing jock things) is overlaid with dark, downbeat music, as if we should be looking at these people and tasting the cold ash of death in our mouths, knowing that all activity is futile and all joy is not just fleeting but illusory.
Or, you know, the music might just suck. I’m not a professional. But the weird nightmare of seeing the cheerleaders dance can’t possibly be meant to be titillating? So anyway, Bill, as poorly written and unbearable a lead character as the movies have given us in a long time, becomes a towel boy in order to earn money for college. The jocks are not just mean to him but almost psychotically violent, assaulting him and forcing him to clean up a flask of rotten old soup. You’ll get used to this feeling, but the buildup for what is a terrible gag (a rutting couple covered in puke-water) is really long. At least, I’m guessing it’s buildup, it’s hard to tell. When it’s a bunch of athletic men who look about 30 years old beating up a teenager, I struggle to make sense of any of it.
I’ve got to put my game-face on! This movie needs reviewing! As Tony keeps trying to get in Krissi’s knickers, Bill ditches his job and goes back to picking up and getting money for depositing recycling. One beer bottle…contains a leprechaun called Lepkey! Lepkey is a bit rubbish but basically helpful, giving Bill three wishes, although in the end it turns out to be six or seven, depending on how you view the horse thing. The most “famous” scene in this movie is when he completely cocks up a “make this wrench very slightly smaller” request, making Bill an inch high. Bill then…seriously can’t believe I’m writing this…climbs into Krissi’s underwear, hangs on to her giant-looking pubic hair and gives her an orgasm. This scene achieves that all-too-rare trifecta of being unfunny, looking awful and going on forever – you will be screaming at the screen to just make him normal size again and get on with it, long before it’s through.
Bill wins over Krissi by just being a decent guy, and Tony gets a tennis racket rammed up his arse by the leprechaun. So ,he decides to rape Krissi, gets arrested and throws Bill under the bus by claiming he’s a drug dealer…and on the say-so of someone trying to get out of a rape charge, the police put 24/7 surveillance on Bill for six weeks. You know, like the police do.
Perhaps because they spent so bloody long on that “honey, I shrunk the nerd” scene, the bit where Bill and Kristi suddenly decide to get married, but wait til they’re married to have sex, appears schizophrenically fast, like all this has been happening in a different movie that we didn’t get to watch. Then we’ve just got more attempted rape, a weird guy riding two horses by standing on top of them both, a guest appearance by the hobo from “Rugsuckers”, and our loving couple ride off into the sunset.
Although I’ve used a lot of them, this movie has rendered me at something of a loss for words. It’s so deeply odd, that I genuinely can’t decide if it’s just horribly misjudged or if it’s a work of absurdist genius. I will say that if I knew nothing about the director, I’d have been insulting it from the first sentence, but that first movie has given him a lot of leeway in my eyes – plus, he was apparently living in a van when he made this movie. Is that dedication and spending every penny you have? Or was he just kicked out of everywhere he lived? Of course, the flipside of “great first movie” is “terrible every other movie”, and it appears Girard spent the next decade directing late-night T&A thrillers (including a couple of entries in the “Witchcraft” series, which looks awful enough to be an ISCFC project) and awful family movies, before hanging up his directing hat in 2006.
But I can’t just dismiss this. Despite a cast full of people we’d never see again (of the six top-billed people, three have this as their only acting credit, and the star only appeared in one other movie) there’s something to be said for normal-looking films which end up being completely wrong-headed. Being able to be bad, but in a new way, is just as important as making something which is good, although admittedly occasionally tough to watch. Would you rather watch (to pick two recent Best Picture Oscar winners) “The Hurt Locker” and “The King’s Speech” every day, or this and “Rugsuckers”? You could spend ages puzzling this movie out – although don’t do that, it would be a bad idea and life’s too short.
Plus, we’ve got those for-no-reason weird sex jokes in the credits. Every other name is a fake one (presumably Union people working on the quiet?) – here’s an example:
I say watch it. The days of the utterly irresponsible teen raunch movie are long behind us, so we ought to celebrate them from time to time, while being glad that they’re not still being made. And we ought to thank Girard for employing a cinematographer who was only 2 feet tall – seriously, the number of shots from below (usually of cheerleaders and their underwear) goes beyond directorial fetish into a whole new area.
Rating: thumbs down