Tag Archives: Bill Cosby

Leonard Part 6 (1987)

leonard part 6

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: One really bad movie.

Leonard Parker (Bill Cosby) is a former CIA agent who is now retired and running a restaurant in San Francisco while trying to reconcile things with his wife (Pat Colbert) and  keeping his college-aged daughter (Victoria Rowell) from marrying a man in his 60’s (Moses Gunn). Unfortunately for him a crazed vegetarian by the name of Medussa Johnson (Gloria Foster) has managed to somehow brainwash all the animals to kill people and Leonard is appointed the only person able to stop it. He is reluctant at first, but with the help of his ever supportive butler Frayn (Tom Courtenay) he puts on his action suit for one last adventure at saving the world.

The film, which was written by Cosby, starts out okay enough with a funny bit dealing with a shootout inside the kitchen of a busy restaurant, but then quickly devolves. Part of the problem is an over emphasis on Leonard’s boring domestic life and attempts at winning back his wife, which makes the whole thing seem like two movies in one. In fact the first 35 minutes are spent with Leonard acting very much like a Cliff Huxtable while arguing with his rebellious daughter about her lifestyle choices before it even gets into the spy/action part. When it finally does get into the adventure segment it becomes weird, surreal and confusing with some of the most pathetic attempts at special effects you’ll ever see.

The film also offers no backstory for how the Medussa character was able to ‘brainwash’ the animals even though one was sorely needed. Elmer Bernstein’s musical score is generic and is pretty much made up of bits and pieces of other famous scores from other films or shows including the theme from the 80’s medical TV-show ‘St. Elsewhere’. As for the spy spoofing aspect the film fails to be funny at all and comes off like no one involved in this ever actually watched a spy film to really know what they were trying to make fun of.

The weakest link is Cosby who gives a terrible performance that shows none of his charisma that he has brought to his other projects. He appears uncomfortable and completely upstaged by his supporting cast including even that of Joe Don Baker. Foster is great as the campy villain and it’s just too bad that her efforts had to be wasted in such a bad film. Courtenay is amusing in support, but his talents deserve better material. Jane Fonda is fun in a brief bit playing herself in a send-up of her 80’s exercise videos.

Director Paul Weiland shows some potential with a wacky, stylish design, but was unfortunately too intimidated to give Cosby any real direction and simply allowed the project to become an embarrassing self-indulgent ego tangent on the part of the star. Unless you’re in the mood for a really bad movie night I would suggest staying away from this one as there are hurricanes and tornadoes that are less disastrous than this.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: December 18, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 26Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Paul Weiland

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Bill Cosby: Himself (1983)

bill cosby 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: The Cos onstage routine.

Filmed in Hamilton, Ontario the movie centers entirely on Cosby in concert as he sits in front of a very enthusiastic audience doing many of his typical onstage routines including takes on child rearing, family life, marriage, dentist visits and even fart jokes. There is also a bit at the beginning about people who go out on weekends to party and get drunk only to regret it on Monday morning, which I found to be the funniest.

Although not R-rated the humor is still edgier than you might expect at one point he even says the word ‘asshole’ and uses his chair like it is a toilet that he is throwing up into. The material isn’t exactly fresh either as some of the jokes were already used during the pilot episode of his 60’s comedy TV-show. The opening credit sequence, which shows black and white pictures of kids and teenagers, which may or may not be his own is good because it features The Cos doing a parody of the Bill Withers’ song ‘Just the Two of Us’ only here it gets called ‘Just the Slew of Us’. Cosby’s entrance onto the stage in which he enters to the roar of the crowd and then leaves and comes back again to more applause is funny and shows his incredible ability to work an audience while looking completely at ease.

These days of course with the rape allegations this film along with everything else he has done has taken on a sour note. Some may not want to watch it simply for that reason and that’s fine. I’m conflicted a bit with the whole thing due to the fact that there are so many women suddenly coming forward after remaining silent for so many years like they just want to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ for whatever reason, but ultimately there is too many of them at this point to believe that they all could be lying.

The way I figure it, it all makes sense because in Hollywood the celebrity has access to a wider circle of attractive, younger people that a regular person doesn’t, which is why most marriages and relationships there don’t last because it’s just too easy to find someone else no matter what the age or looks of the star may be. Don Knotts in his 70’s managed to date and marry an attractive blonde in her 30’s. Dick Van Dyke who is near 90 is married to a woman in her 40’s and Carol Burnet in her early 80’s is married to a man in his 40’s. Tinseltown is full of people with trophy-like girlfriends (or boyfriends) to the point that it is the norm and even acceptable, but for Cosby it would’ve ruined his career because his whole act hinges on family values. So by drugging them to which he is accused of was his way of ‘fooling around’ and taking advantage of his celebrity status while still keeping his ‘clean-cut’ image intact and banking on the fact that no one would believe them if they ever did decide to come forward.

However, the biggest controversy in this instance is even calling this a movie to begin with. Most films even a documentary have some cutaways or visual variety, but this has none. We don’t even get to see the faces of the audience. The camera stays glued to Cosby from beginning to end, which despite his engaging nature and mildly funny jokes becomes incredibly tedious to sit through and watch.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 20, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Bill Cosby

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

The Devil and Max Devlin (1981)

devil and max devlin

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Working for the devil.

Max (Elliot Gould) works for a slumlord and does whatever he can to make life miserable for the tenants who rent from him. After getting run over by a bus while trying to chase down a delinquent tenant he finds himself in hell and face-to-face with the devil (Bill Cosby) who gives him a deal that will allow him to get out of dealing with ‘Level 4’, which is supposedly one of the harsher penalties for hell dwellers. The deal consists of Max getting three people to sign over their souls at which point Max’s will be freed, but as Max gets to know the people including that of 10-year-old Toby (Adam Rich) whose mother Penny (Susan Anspach) he is interested in marrying he becomes reluctant to follow through with it.

This movie was part of Disney’s effort to break away from the kiddie-like slapstick of their 70’s films and become edgier and more ‘hip’. This film along with The Black Hole, Condorman, and Tron where all produced to attract an older teen audience and gain a trendier appeal, but it pretty much failed and this movie was the worst of them. Part of the problem is that the main character is a man in his 40’s, which kids and teens cannot relate to. Most films need to have a protagonist the same age as its intended audience in order to build that connection and this one doesn’t. It’s also very slow with little or no action. I found myself completely bored with it during the second hour and I can only imagine what a 10 or even 13-year-old must have felt. The humor is minimal and not funny. It also lacks any type of ‘coolness’ with a plot that isn’t any more sophisticated than the formulaic stuff it had already been churning out, which at least was engaging on a mindless level, which this one isn’t.

I liked the scenes shown from hell, but that is about it. The script, which was written by Mary Rodgers who had earlier success with Freak Friday seems unable to understand things from a teen’s perspective while being quite predictable in the process. Also, the reasons for Max going to hell, which include cheating on a test in the 4th grade and stealing candy from a store as a child seem awfully trite. If hell truly does exist and minor stuff like that is enough to get people sent there then the majority of us will be going and heaven will be a very empty place.

Gould does surprisingly well, but I still felt he was miscast. Cosby is wasted and barely even used although the scene near the end where he appears in devilish makeup is effective and creepy. Anspach is equally wasted and Ronnie Schell who plays as an aggressive talent agent wearing some very loud suits is seen much too briefly.

This one is a definite pass even for Disney fans. It’s too edgy and scary for little kids, not hip enough for teens while being too watered down for adults.

devil and max devlin2

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: March 6, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Steven Hilliard Stern

Studio: Buena Vista Productions

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video