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A National Lampoon anthology of three shorts spoofing everything from personal growth films, glossy soap operas, and police stories. In the first story "Growing Yourself", stars Peter Riegert as a confused family man who throws his wife out of the house in order for him to "grow" a new path in life and raise his four children on his own. In "Success Wanters", Ann Dusenberry stars as Dominique Corsaire, a young college graduate determined to succeed in life in which in a few days time lands a job as a stripper, then the mistress to a margarine company, inherits it when the owner croaks, and is then romanced by a Greek shipping tycoon, and ultimately the US president. In "Municipalians", Robby Benson stars alongside Richard Widmark as a naive rookie Los Angeles policeman paired with a cynical veteran of the force to catch an inept serial killer (Christopher Lloyd). Written by
You can call this one a flop, and that's a very big one too! Quality isn't associated with the words National Lampoon, but at least the Vacation and Animal House entries were fun, but this offering has got to be their most inane feature to date that I've watched. Ugh! The three piece story crazily attempts to parody the clichés and stereotypes that flooded Hollywood genre films, which turns out to be completely unfunny and boorish dross.
"Growing Yourself." - Jason a corporate lawyer decides to quit his job and split up with his wife so they both can grow and do what they always wanted to do. That's life, as Jason sees it and he takes over looking after the children, but his decision to follow this path might not be the right one.
Talk about leaden, boring and stiff. There only real interest is the small performance of the lovely Diane Lane. The satirical element here seems to be pointing out something than actually just delivering it. The silly humour is strained, flat and particularly senseless. Peter Riegert's keeps it very deadpan in the lead role and Teresa Ganzel bubbles along in her role.
"Success Wanters" - After just finishing collage Dominique Corsair gets a job as a stripper and is rape with some butter by the Dairy Company Presidents. For payback she becomes interested in the margarine industry and virtually works her way to the 'very" top.
Probably the best one of the three, but the competition wasn't too great. The gags seem to want go more subtle with its sexual and power orientated tone, but still they do feel more tacky and forced. The idea had something promising and inventive to build on, but the languid pacing begins to wear thin by the end and disastrous dialogue don't do it any favours at all. The humour tries, but more often doesn't come off, despite the hunger. The seductively Ann Dusenberry is pretty cold and manipulative throughout (well after the painful ordeal) and likes to gracefully bare it all quite a bit. Even the skimpy stripper outfit seems to get full workout for the opening half of the story. Popping up in amusing minor cameos ranged from Dick Millar, Mary Woronov, Olympia Dukakis, Fred Willard, Robert Culp and a favourite turn by Joe Spinell.
"Municipalians" - A serial killer who leaves copies of his driver's licence behind after each murder, is being tracked down by an enthusiastically naive rookie cop and his old grizzled partner. However the young cop learns that being tough is the only way to go, when the pair encounter one situation after another.
Stupid! Oh yeah. Sure if you're going to spoof something extremely over-the-top, make sure laughter will stream off it. Obviously they forgot that! Even at its 30 minutes running, boy does it drag! Robby Benson's gratingly mock performance got rather overbearing with a wearied Richard Widmark doing very little as his partner. Christopher Lloyd underplays the role of serial killer, but his creepily wry and sympathetic performance works well and pretty much shows up the other leads. Elisha Cook Jr., Rhea Perlman and Harry Reems appear. When the jokes come, they truly feel out of sync and get rather stale with its repetitiveness of making fun of these cop clichés.
In all, the idiotic material laced with its skits comes across as disposable, and the unbearable script is basically inept and witless. Only one or two few gags make it out each segment, but really there's too many cheap stinkers or plain misses which stick in your head. This is because it virtually becomes what it's trying to poke fun at and this basically shows in each story. It loses sight. The performances range from hot to cold, but who can't deny the embarrassment that's felt on most of their faces. Director Bob Giraldi's first taste is a vapid one for "Growing Yourself" , but "Success Wanters" showed some minor flourishes of mild effectiveness. Henry Jaglom does a labouredly jaded job on "Municipalians" . Rick Meyerowitz's vividly crass drawings that opens the film, are neatly devised and go on to set the style and mood.
This low-brow comedy flunks it by overplaying it, with the main interested being derived by the familiar cameos. But really, is it worth going through this putridly lame and restless get-up, just to spot them. Well, that's up to you.
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