Petey Wheatstraw (Rudy Ray Moore) is a candidate to become the devil's son-in-law. The storyline is a scaffolding on which Rudy Ray Moore's standup humor can be unfolded. Beginning life as ...
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Petey Wheatstraw (Rudy Ray Moore) is a candidate to become the devil's son-in-law. The storyline is a scaffolding on which Rudy Ray Moore's standup humor can be unfolded. Beginning life as the afterbirth to a watermelon, the young Wheatstraw becomes a martial artist, but is unable to best the evil comedy team of Leroy and Skillet, who also indulge in wholesale murder. Satan restores the comedians' victims to life, and charges Petey with the task of marrying his clock-stoppingly ugly daughter to giving him a grandchild. When Petey attempts to default on the deal, he is pursued by the devil's henchmen. Written by
Fun but Not as Entertaining as the DOLEMITE Movies
In 1977, comedian Rudy Ray Moore must have gotten tired of the same old Dolemite routine and wanted to branch out into new characters. Rather than go through all the trouble of developing a new character with it's own brand of humor, Moore and writer/director Cliff Roquemore created a carbon copy of the Dolemite character and slapped a new name on him. Thus, we were blessed with Moore's third film, PETEY WHEATSTRAW: THE DEVIL'S SON-IN- LAW. I'm not sure why they saw the need to create an all-new character, but there you have it. If you're a fan of Moore's previous DOLEMITE movies, there is enough here to elicit some chuckles. It's Moore's usual brand of humor with the same flaws we've come to expect from his movies. Petey Wheatstraw (Moore) is what else a comedian. Born to his mother as a near ten-year-old child with a watermelon, he is soon taken under the tutelage of the wise old Bantu who teaches him martial arts and the importance of wisdom. Years later as Petey's comedy career explodes, he becomes the target of bumbling duo Leroy and Skillet. The two want to off the comedian before his local performance can damage the profits from the grand opening of their own club. At first it appears their plan has worked and Petey is gunned down, but the Devil has other plans for the comedian. He gives Petey the chance to return to life and seek vengeance in return for marrying his daughter and giving him a son.
Also, there's a magic pimp cane.
As I made my way through my collection of Rudy Ray Moore movies, PETEY WHEATSTRAW is about where my interest began to wane but not enough to keep from enjoying the film. It's still chock full of Moore's trademark humor with the added absurdity of the supernatural storyline. Even after two movies and a few years of experience, Moore and his crew still haven't learned how to tell a proper structured story on film. The movie, as with the two previous, is all over the place. The first act is all about Leroy and Skillet's attempts at sidetracking Petey from performing the same night as their grand opening. The second act introduces the Devil plot but continues to focus on Petey's vengeance against his attempted murderers (and discovering his new powers via the magic cane). And then the final act, which almost feels tacked on, is Petey trying to outsmart the Devil and avoid the marriage to the Prince of Darkness's hideous daughter. The whole "Devil's Son-in-Law" portion of the movie is largely unimportant until the final 30 minutes, after the whole Leroy/Skillet plot has been resolved and most movie's would end. It's a shame too because the whole Devil storyline, the part I was most interested in watching has some of the better WTF moments. It should have been the focus of the movie. With its horrible makeup effects and crappy professional wrestling style demons, there are some awesome fight sequences that'll have you laughing so hard it hurts.
There is a lot of promise for a comedian like Moore in such a bizarre concept but it's all wasted for yet another "save the club" plot. Another interesting point I've noticed: the movie is obsessed with watermelon. Seriously, there is a LOT of it here: Petey's mother gives birth to one, characters are always eating it, and a truck load of watermelons is even blown up. It's everywhere, and this is the only Moore film where he plays so heavily on this stereotype. Not important, just something that really stood out to me. Anyway, the cast is really what makes this movie so fun. Moore is doing his usual routine, but the rest of the cast adds some new flavor. Lady Reed is missing from this movie, and you won't hear a complaint from me. For a women who was billed as a comedian, she couldn't act and I was glad to see she sat this one out. Leroy and Skillet are probably the best part of the movie. A couple of goons, their evil scheming and total idiocy are some of the funniest bits. As funny as the duo are, I would have liked to see them show up in more of Moore's movies. And then there's the Devil himself, G. Tito Shaw. I love it the man is chewing the scenery with his bravado and attempt at a commanding presence. The characters are a blast and the humor hasn't quite run dry in PETEY WHEATSTRAW; so while it's a little boring at times and the structure needs serious work, I would still recommend this movie to fans of Moore's movies.
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