Category Archives: Crude Comedy

Major League (1989)

major league

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Cleveland Indians become winners.

Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) is the new owner of the Cleveland Indians and her goal is to move the team to the sunnier locale of Miami. She finds a clause in the lease stating that if the team is unable to attract 800,000 in attendance for the season then she will be able to break the contract without penalty. Her plan then is to assemble the biggest bunch of misfits that she can, so that they’ll be so bad nobody will want to watch them, but her idea backfires as the losers somehow find a way to win.

I remember seeing this movie when it was first released and being unimpressed with it as it seemed to be taking the Rocky underdog, lovable-loser theme to redundant heights and beating a tired formula that was already getting stale. It was like The Bad News Bears, but without the interesting subtext. The plot is so obvious that you know where it’s going right from the start and thus making it almost pointless to watch. Unlike Bull Durham it offers no new insights into the nuances of the game and the crude humor is only amiable at best.

However, upon second viewing I found it to be a passable time-filler and the crowd scenes during the film’s climactic game sequence were impressive. Most films, even the good ones, have a hard time recreating the kinetic atmosphere of a live game, but this film manages to hit-the-mark and made me feel like I was watching an actual contest.

The casting is also good with each actor a perfect fit for their part especially Charlie Sheen and Corbin Bernsen. I also enjoyed Chelcie Ross even though he was 46 at that time and looking a bit too old to still be playing. However, his character’s attempts to convert everyone to Christianity particularly the player that practices voodoo is amusing. I also enjoyed James Gammons as the manager as his character is refreshingly sensible and grounded and works as a much needed anchor to the silliness.

Whitton, who hasn’t appeared in a film in over 20 years, is great as the bitchy owner and is hot-looking as well. However, I couldn’t quite buy into the fact that she stubbornly continued to cheer against the team winning even after it became painfully clear that her hoped for low attendance mark would never be reached. If anything their winning would help the team’s market value and she could sell them at a nice profit and move herself to the sunny beach. With all the national cameras most likely trained on her during the playoff game why not, at least at the very end, have her begrudgingly get with the crowd and show some appreciation for what the players had accomplished.

I also got a bit of a kick out of a life-sized cardboard cutout that is created of her and a piece of its dress ripped off with each win that the team gets, but writer-director Ward chickens out on his own outrageous concept by having the figure still wearing pasties and a bikini bottom even after the dress is fully removed. The players still cheer raucously at the sight of it nonetheless, but in real-life I think there would’ve been boos as they most likely would be expecting full nudity and disappointed when it didn’t materialize.

The side story dealing with Tom Berenger’s character trying to reconcile things with his estranged wife that is played by Rene Russo is contrived and unnecessary and with the runtime being so long, especially with such a threadbare storyline, should’ve been cut out entirely. I also found it a bit annoying the way Berenger’s character barges into her apartment and her fiancée’s unannounced and without even bothering to knock. Most people lock their doors behind them once they get inside and thus making his attempts to ‘sneak-in’ unlikely anyways.

The majority of the film was shot in Milwaukee and not Cleveland making me wonder why they didn’t just use the Milwaukee Brewers as the team since their history is almost a dismal as the Indians. It’s also important to note that we are only shown what happens in the pennant and never the World Series, which is just as well as the whole thing is a bit fantastical anyways especially given the rooster’s woeful talent and having them go all the way would’ve been too much of a stretch even for a wishful thinking, feel-good movie such as this.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 7, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 46Minutes

Rated R

Director: David S. Ward

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Receiving a hamburger education.

Russell (Leigh McCloskey) has flunked out of several colleges and has no future plans while being deemed a failure by his parents (Robert Hogan, Lillian Garrett). Then he meets a franchise owner of Busterburger who tells him about how much money he can make as an owner of one of their restaurants, which convinces him to train to become a franchisee. The problem is that he must attend Burger U, which is run by the no-nonsense Drootin (Dick Butkus) who has strict rules and won’t even allow the students to leave the campus during the school semester. They are forced to sleep in beds that look like giant hamburgers and if they do get into trouble they are locked into cells made to resemble giant pickles and sprayed with hot sauce.

There are schools out there that train people on how to own their own fast food franchise and had this film toned down the silliness and keep it solely on a satirical level it might’ve worked. The opening 10 minutes has an over-the-top campy quality, which isn’t bad, but then it devolves into the crude, cartoonish mindset that drags the thing down until it becomes a forgettable waste of time.

The film was written by Donald Ross who penned many teleplays for TV-series from the ‘70s through the ‘90s. He is also the husband of Patti Deutsch a red haired, nasal voiced woman who was a quirky contestant on game shows during the ‘70s including ‘Match Game’, which is my favorite. They also appeared together as a couple on ‘Tattletales’ and in those instances he came off as a reasonably intelligent person, so I was expecting a little bit more from this than what I got.

Unfortunately there’s nothing funny about it and just proceeds to get dumber and dumber as it progresses. It’s also insulting to overweight people as it includes a highly offensive and gross scene where a busload of them come into a restaurant and eat everything in sight like they’re animals instead of humans and then proceed to all have a flatulence attack, which ultimately blows the whole place up.

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Butkus is alright and the one highpoint of both the film and his otherwise unimpressive acting career. Chuck McCann, who is almost unrecognizable as an eccentric professor, is okay too, but star McCloskey is dull and looks more like a man in his 30’s, which he was, than a college aged student while the rest of the cast of characters are too exaggerated to be either interesting or funny.

Clearly the producers were trying to tap into the Police Academy formula, but it doesn’t work and is a complete embarrassment to all those involved.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: January 14, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Rated R

Director: Mike Marvin

Studio: Busterburger Limited Partnership

Available: VHS

Rabbit Test (1978)

rabbit test 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: The first pregnant man.

Lionel (Billy Crystal) is a lonely young man of 24 who lives next to his obtrusive mother (Doris Roberts) and has never been with a woman. When his friend Danny (Alex Rocco) comes home from the service they go out to a war veteran’s social where he has sex with actress Sheree North on top of a bowling pinball machine and inexplicably becomes pregnant. This creates an uproar in both the media and medical world and turns Lionel into an unwanted celebrity.

This was the one and only movie directed by Joan Rivers. Like with her personality it can be mildly funny at times, but is mostly abrasive and crass. The film lacks any cinematic style and was originally shot on video. The plot is limp and the whole thing seems more like a gag reel than a movie. Her attempts at recreating the comic style of Mel Brooks, Woody Allen or even John Waters fails miserably and the viewer is left with one big amateurish mess.

Ninety-nine percent of the humor is crude and stupid and deals heavily in racial stereotypes making one almost thankful for political correctness. Some of the worst bits include the portrayal of Lionel’s Mexican-American students as being utterly infantile and the only way to get rid of them is to yell ‘immigration’. There is also a segment where Lionel travels to Africa and watches a ventriloquist act where a black man has a dummy on his lap that is played by midget actor Billy Barty in blackface. The film also takes potshots at elderly people, fat people, people with disabilities and even Jews. None of the jokes are funny and are often cruel and in the poorest of taste.

rabbit test 1

Crystal in his film debut is the only good thing about the movie and is likable enough to help elevate it to some degree. Paul Lynde is amusing as a gynecologist and had he had more screen time it would have helped. Roberts score a few points in the caricature of a meddlesome mother as does George Gobel as the hick president. Michael Keaton also makes his film debut here, but it is in a non-speaking role as a sailor and if you blink you’ll miss him.

There is also never any explanation for exactly how Lionel becomes pregnant nor do we see the delivery or what type of baby it is which is annoying and dumb. It is almost like a bunch of twelve-year-olds got together to write the script and in many ways I think they could have done better. The film’s posters are funnier than anything you’ll see in the actual movie.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: April 9, 1978

Runtime: 1Hour 26Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Joan Rivers

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS

Zapped! (1982)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teen acquires telekinetic powers.

Barney (Scott Baio) is a high school nerd who spends more time in the science lab than socializing with friends. During one of his experiments he accidently acquires an ability to move things using telepathic powers. His powers impress fellow teen Bernadette (Felice Schachter) and the two fall in-love…and that’s about it.

One of the biggest problems of this horrible teen comedy is that there is no discernable plot. Yes, we have a teen acquiring some amazing powers, but the script does nothing with it. The tricks that he does are minimal and there is no real bad guy, tension, or even basic story just some broadly ‘comical’ scenarios instead. The premise reminded me of one of those old Disney movies with Kurt Russell playing college kid Dexter Riley who would somehow attain similarity extraordinary powers, but those movies at least had Cesar Romero as a fun bad guy and even on a subpar level were far funnier and more entertaining than this.

I think what really bugs me about this movie is that you have some nudity and crude jokes, which would clearly aim it for an older audience and yet the humor is incredibly kiddie-like stuff that could only amuse your basic 4-year-old and be lame to everybody else. The brief bits of nudity that you do see do not make sitting through this inane thing worth it. You also get treated to not one, but two sappy 70’s-style love songs that could easily make most people want to puke.

Baio has no screen presence or ability to carry a movie and it is easy to see why he went right back to doing TV-sitcoms after this. The way he politely puts up with his over-the-top intrusive parents (Roger Bowen, Marya Small) is pathetic. Most films of this type always portray the mom and dad as being ‘uptight’ and ‘out-of-it’, but this one plays it up too much until it becomes just plain dumb.

I will say that Heather Thomas is hot here. Really, really hot both with her clothes on and off and simply eyeing her in every scene that she is in helps in a minor way get through the stupidity. Sue Ann Langdon is attractive in the ‘milf’ category and she is the only one of the cast members to appear in the film’s 1990 direct-to-video sequel Zapped Again!.

The Exorcist parody and the Carrie prom-like disaster that occurs at the end is mildly amusing enough to give this embarrassment one point, but otherwise this film gives the already low-grade genre of 80’s teen comedies a bad name. In fact I would consider this to be the worst out of all of them.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: July 23, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes

Rated R

Director: Robert J. Rosenthal

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD

Cracking Up (1977)

cracking up

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: It’s the big one.

It’s finally happened the earthquake that destroys California and leaves the entire state in total chaos. News reporters cover the destruction in a parody style and features young comic performers like Michael McKean, David L. Lander, Fred Willard, Harry Shearer and Edie McClurg at the start of their careers and doing their own material.

This film works a bit like Roger Corman’s Gas-Or-It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save it in that it has an animated opening and tries to somehow correlate mass destruction while only filming a small set piece inside a studio back-lot. Corman’s film at least had some edgy humor and a cinematic style, but this has neither. It is almost like a low budget comedy variety show with skits that have nothing to do with the main theme. The film has no pace or momentum and slogs along until it becomes utterly boring.

It takes till the final half-hour before any of the otherwise lame humor becomes even passably funny. Of the stuff that I found moderately amusing was the comedian at a roadside diner who beats up an audience member when he doesn’t laugh enough at his stupid jokes there is also a mailman who delivers a dead corpse to a couple who try to come up with different ways to make it useful. The segment where Fred Willard tries to sell a customer a mattress even though the customer thinks he is talking about his penis is okay and the commercial showing a trucker advertising the use of adult diapers and even getting out of his cab wearing one deserves some credit.

However, the majority of the stuff is so mind numbing unfunny that is becomes almost hard to believe. I started to think that the premise of the film was to make it a joke on the audience like with Andy Kaufman reading a long boring novel or the 60’s film from the Netherlands where a man gets in front of the camera and hurls insults and profanities for ninety minutes simply to see how much an audience can take before they would leave. If that was the case then this film almost succeeds and the best advice would be to skip it and not be the intended victim.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: July 4, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 15Minutes

Rated R

Director: Chuck Staley

Studio: American International Pictures

Available: Netflix streaming, Amazon Instant Video

Sweet Movie (1974)

sweet movie

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Every fetish is shown

Unfairly labeled as excessive and perverse, this film is really a fascinating and intricate study into the recesses of the sexual mind. It looks at sex in all its complexities and exposes it as a very primal need with a personality of its own.

The film starts off with an amusing satire on the media and how they have commercialized sex. It involves a game show were a rich millionaire must choose which female virgin he would like for a wife and even has a doctor on hand to examine them and make sure each one is genuine.

This becomes the ongoing theme, which is how society loves to ‘package’ sex and yet really can’t. Director Dusan Makavejev feels that the sexual instinct is too deep to be able to channel completely. The rest of the film goes off on wild tangents that may not make sense to some, but the intent is not to tap into the logical mind, but instead the sexual senses. In the process it tries to bring out the sexual side of the viewer by digging deeply into their own subconscious mind.

The final result is an almost non-stop barrage of unique, lasting visuals. Some are funny, stimulating and at times even grotesque. Yet sex has all these qualities so any movie realistically dealing with it should have it as well. Overall despite the controversial approach it becomes lyrical, compelling, and quite well-shot.

By not boxing sex into any type of ‘standard’ is what makes this different from just about any other erotic film out there. Most directors seem to feel that two sweating bodies between satin sheets are all you need to make a film ‘sexy’. Here you get something much more daring and expansive by showing sex in both its beauty and ugliness. Outside of bestiality and necrophilia just about every other fetish gets examined including interracial sex, sex with minors (never shown, but strongly implied), food sex, vomiting, scatology, water sports, and even violent sex. Sometimes it gets vulgar yet still remains provocative and fascinating to the more open-minded.

Star Carole Laure is incredibly beautiful and submits herself to her demanding role with a reckless abandon that is refreshing if not unprecedented and helps make the film impactful.

There’s some really amazing sequences including having Laure carted around in a suitcase with only her head sticking out. This is also one those rare films outside of Paul Morrissey’s Trash that features more shots of the male genitals than the females.

Obviously there will be those that will find the whole thing disgusting and offensive as it is very explicit even by today’s standards. This film could very well go beyond most people’s ‘comfort zones’ so I don’t want to suggest it to anyone unless they are fully prepared for what they are about to see, but for those who are game it could come off as a unique one-of-a-kind experience.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: June 12, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 38Mintues

Rated NC-17

Director: Dusan Makavejev

Studio: Maran Film

Available: DVD (The Criterion Collection)

Is There Sex After Death? (1971)

is there sex after death 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: It’s all about sex.

This is basically a compilation of vignettes all satirizing America’s new found sexual revolution and is not all that different from other similar ‘underground’ films of that period and should best be viewed as simply a relic of its era.

Some of the bits could be considered clever, but they fail to build any momentum. The one joke premise loses steam halfway through eventually making the constantly quirky insights by the constantly quirky characters tiresome and redundant. The sex and nudity, while in abundance, also become a turn-off. The majority of the participants, especially those in the nudist colony, are so old and out of shape you really wish they would have just left their clothes on.

Writer/director Alan Abel who also acts as the host and interviewer comes off best. His unblinking deadpan seriousness, even when in the middle of complete perversity, is right on target. It also features a funny interview with transvestite Holly Woodlawn, some spontaneous on the street moments and a climatic ‘Sex Olympics’. In fact if you get this on video it might be worth it to just fast forward it to that point.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: October 24, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes

Rated X

Director: Alan Abel

Studio: Abel-Child Productions

Available: VHS

La Grande Bouffe (1973)

la grande bouffe 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: They stuff their faces.

This film will start an annual Thanksgiving Day theme of reviewing movies that have something to do with food and eating. This one may be the most notorious of them all and despite its offbeat plot and crude scenes won the Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics award as well as attaining a large cult following and be one of the highest grossing movies in the history of Italian cinema.

The story deals with four middle-aged men (Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazzi, Philippe Noiret, Michel Piccoli) who despite attaining affluence and wealth are bored with life and decide their only recourse is to get together for a weekend and commit group suicide by eating themselves to death.

At first the movie will make you hungry.  After an initial set-up the characters can be seen eating in just about every shot. The variety of foods and menu that is served is almost mouth-watering and features a wide array of exquisite dishes seen only in the most fanciest of restaurants. However, after visually seeing these people overeat I felt myself feeling as bloated as the characters and almost sick. The film also gets quite gross with several segments featuring loud sounds of flatulence and a scene where the toilet bursts and covers the men and room with feces that even drips down and gets into the kitchen.

Some may find this ‘hilarious’ while others will think it’s disgusting. For me despite the moments of over-the-top crudeness the strongest scene may actually be when the characters start dying and their dead bodies are carried into a freezer while the rest of them continue to make food and stuff their mouths like it is a compulsion.

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The four leads are old pros who couldn’t give a bad performance if they tried. I started to wonder though how they could eat so much and whether the scenes were all done in one take with no retake as eventually I think they would all start puking. Mastroianni’s death scene is a stand-out simply because it manages to keep his expression completely frozen and does not manage to blink for several minutes, which I found impressive. Tognazzi’s death moment is also fun although it’s Andrea Ferreol who starts out as a proper school teacher, but ends up becoming as decadent and hedonistic as all the men combined that steals it.

The film makes a strong if not impactful statement about gluttony and how a life of prestige and luxury may actually be more of a trap and curse. The more some people get of it the more they want until it is never enough and death may end up being their only true source of salvation and escape.

The idea is outrageous and clever and I loved the concept, but the execution is lacking. The direction is too loose with scenes going on longer than they should. Some tighter editing would have helped the pace and momentum.  I also don’t think it is possible for a person to stuff themselves with food and then die as I think instead they would just vomit it all out.

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My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 17, 1973

Runtime: 2Hours 4Minutes

Rated NC-17

Director: Marco Ferreri

Studio: Films 66

Available: VHS, DVD

Orgazmo (1997)

orgazmo 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Super hero porn star.

This is a funny satirical mixture of super hero movies and Boogie Nights and a definite improvement over Trey Parker’s earlier feature, the sleep inducing Cannibal the Musical though not as funny as his later ‘South Park’ TV-series. Here he plays a Mormon bible salesman who inadvertently gets involved playing a super hero named Orgazmo in porn movies.

Has a definite look and feel of a really cheap direct-to-video product. The special effects are awful, the fight scenes are fake looking, and the acting, with the exception of Michael Dean Jacobs who does a great job playing a really slimy porn director, are quite poor. Yet it is structured well enough to keep you consistently amused.

The porn scenes themselves are so over-the-top that they are an absolute riot. Yet despite its subject matter and a cast of actual porn stars there is NO FEMALE NUDITY. In fact the only nudity you will see are close-ups of hairy male rear ends.

Religious people especially Mormons are made to look so simplistic and sterile that it is sure to offend anyone involved in that area. Yet since most of them won’t bother to watch this film it probably won’t hurt. Overall it is good natured and not bad for its type.

Has a plethora of porn and cult celebrities in cameo roles. The best by far goes to Ron Jeremy who not only gets involved in a funny debate about the merits (and demerits) of porn, but is also in a big kung fu showdown. Also has Troma producer Lloyd Kaufman as a doctor with beautiful porn star Jill Kelly as a nurse who doesn’t say anything but still commands your attention. ‘South Park’ co-creator Matt Stone can be seen as a crew member. His lines aren’t particularly funny, but the way he says them is.


My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: September 6, 1997

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated NC-17

Director: Trey Parker

Studio: Focus Features

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Bad Manners (1984)

bad manners 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Orphans on the loose.

Piper (Greg Olden) is the new kid inside a rough orphanage who befriends Mouse (Michael Hentz) who looks up to Piper as a sort of tough guy hero. When Mouse gets adopted by a snotty rich couple (Martin Mull, Karen Black) Piper convinces the orphans to break out of the orphanage and rescue him.

If there is one thing that can be said for this film, which is so obscure it is not even listed in Leonard Maltin’s Video Guide, is that it is lively. Director Robert Houston uses a lot of quick edits, interesting camera work and spinning tracking shots to keep things at a fast, irreverent pace. Piper’s sessions with his psychiatrist, which is played by Stephen Stucker is the funniest. Stucker is best known for playing the hyper air traffic controller in Airplane, but I felt he was more engaging and amusing here. The scene where Mouse swallows a small dinner bell and sends everyone into a panic is also a riot.

Unfortunately the film is unable to hold the balance between quirky humor and action and eventually devolves into a cartoonish, silly mess that becomes pretty much just an R-rated kiddie flick. I also didn’t care for the synthesized music score, which had a generic sound similar to ones used in 80’s porn flicks and only further cemented this as an uninspired B-movie.

The children characters are excessively crude and in some ways I prefer it a little more like this because I think it is realistic to how teens and pre-teens behave instead of as the wide-eyed sweet innocents that some other movies portray them as, but parents most likely will cringe and won’t want their own kids to watch it. A mean-spiritedness permeates throughout and although I am not sure if this was intentional or not but the two male leads and the one female are quite androgynous.

The one thing that keeps it fun is the adult performers who seem more than up to the campiness. Murphy Dunne is delightfully hammy as the orphanage warden and Anne De Salvo is quite cute despite playing an oppressive nun. Mull’s glib one-liners are a perfect balance to the zaniness. Black is also great and practically steals the film at the very end when she goes on a spastic shooting spree. This also marks the final film appearance of Richard Deacon best known for playing Mel Cooley on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ who appears here in a brief bit as a ticket agent.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Alternate Title: Growing Pains

Released: November 4, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 22Minutes

Rated R

Director: Robert Houston

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: VHS, YouTube