Tag Archives: Dick Butkus

Gus (1976)

gus

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Mule becomes a kicker.

The California Atoms are the worst team in football and their owner Hank Cooper (Ed Asner) is desperate to try anything in order to get them winning and fans back into the seats. His secretary Debbie (Louise ‘Liberty’ Williams) reads an article about a mule living in Yugoslavia that is able to kick soccer balls at a long distance. He decides to have the animal and its owner Andy (Gary Grimes) shipped all the way from there to the United States where they hope to have the mule try out as a field goal kicker for the team. Since the rule book never specifically states that the players must be human they figure they can get away with it and do. The team starts to win again and Gus is a fan favorite, but mobster Charles (Harold Gould) doesn’t like it and hires two bumbling crooks (Tom Bosley, Tim Conway) to kidnap the animal, so he won’t be able to show up when the team plays in the all-important Superbowl.

Although as a kid I found this film to be enjoyable as an adult it comes off as boring and lacking. The idea that simply adding in a mule to kick long field goals would be enough to turn around a team’s dismal fortunes is highly suspect. For one thing a long distance field goal kicker will kick the ball at a much lower trajectory in order to get it to travel farther and thus the potential to block those kicks is much higher and yet for some reason that never occurs with any of Gus’s kicks, but most likely would. Also, just having a good kicker who can make field goals does not improve the defense that still must stop the other team from scoring. This team was described as getting blown out of every game that they were in, so how then does the defense start magically keeping the other team’s offense in check, so that the games remained manageable and Gus’s field goals would mean something?

The viewer never gets to see Gus kick an actual field goal anyways. What we see instead is the animal kick the ball and then the camera immediately cuts to a superimposed ball floating in the air with a corny sound effect tacked on and then another cut showing it gliding through the goal posts, but never an unedited long shot, which proves most likely no animal would be able to do the feat in real-life or able to do it in a consistently accurate way.

The comical elements aren’t too great either with the two best moments coming from a chase through a hospital as well as another one inside a grocery store, but even here there are problems. For one thing the super market chase, where Bosley and Conway try to corral the animal, goes on way too long and most likely the security or police would’ve been called in long before many of the antics that do occur would’ve happened. There’s also a tacky ‘life lesson’ thread thrown in dealing with Andy learning to have self-confidence, which does nothing but make the film seem even more contrived than it already is.

This marks Grimes’s last film to date as he ended up retiring from movies at the young age of 21 even though his career started off so promisingly with his starring role in Summer of ’42. He stated that the roles he was being offered were no longer up to his standards, but most likely studios were realizing that his acting abilities were limited and it was either get into another line of work, or be relegated to B-movie hell afterwards and his transparent presence here more than proves that.

Asner is the real star and has a few funny lines. I also enjoyed football legend Dick Butkus playing the role of a jealous boyfriend. His acting isn’t exactly good, but his constant expressions of aggravation are fun. Bob Crane in a brief bit manages to be a scene stealer as an obnoxious sportscaster who won’t stop talking until he finally loses his voice.

Kids may take to this more, but even then I’m not so sure as many of them may find it dated in a film that unfortunately can’t stand up to the test of scrutiny or time.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: July 7, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated G

Director: Vincent McEveety

Studio: Buena Vista Distribution Company

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)

hamburger

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