Tag Archives: Gabe Kaplan

Tulips (1981)

tulips1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Choosing love over suicide.

Leland (Gabe Kaplan) is a depressed man who has tried to kill himself several times, but been unsuccessful at it. He hires a hitman named Avocado (Henry Gibson) to shoot him, but Avocado isn’t so sure he wants to do it and advises him that once he decides he’ll leave an ad in the personals section of the newspaper with the word ‘tulips’ in it, which will be the code word for ‘yes’. While Leland awaits his fate he meets Rutanya (Bernadette Peters) who he saves from a burning car after she too tries to kill herself. Eventually they form a relationship, which blossoms into a romance and then marriage only to realize that Avocado has decided to go through with the hit forcing Leland and Rutanya to desperately try to stop him.

While I’ve never been a fan of Kaplan’s acting ability in the past I thought his performance here was alright although the combination of his thick beard and mustache makes him resemble a rabbi and a clean shaven look would’ve been preferred. It’s also a bit perplexing with his extremely bushy head of hair why he would require hair transplants as his character does here.

Peters is delightful, at least at the beginning, but when the two get together the whole thing bogs down into one long  talkfest with nothing much being said that’s funny. The way the two first meet gets botched as initially she bumps into him while roller skating down the road, while also grabbing onto her psychiatrist’s car, which knocks Leland over a bridge wall and he then clings desperately to it in order to avoid falling into the river, but the film then cuts away and we never see how he got out this predicament making it on par with a mindless Road Runner/Wiley E. Coyote cartoon where crazy antics occur without any after effect.

The hit man angle where the intended victim changes his mind had already been done in movies 6 times before this one and therefore wasn’t an original concept nor does it get played-out in a way that’s interesting. Gibson is a good character actor, but here his one-dimensional performance, due mainly to the poor writing, lacks amusement or charisma. There’s also never any action just endless talking, first with an extended bit where Leland contemplates whether he should or shouldn’t look in the newspaper to see if ‘tulips’ is in it, then more discussions about how they can try to stop him and eventually Rutanya sitting down with Acocado directly to try and talk him out of it, which cinematically is not entertaining especially with dialogue that lacks any bite.  The music score is bad too with a silly cartoon-like sound effects that you’d hear on a kiddie show.

Spoiler Alert!

However, it’s the twist ending that I found to be the most annoying as it features a bomb placed by Leland into a car with Avocado and Rutanya inside. First there’s no explanation for how Leland was able to build this bomb as it’s not something just anyone can do, so one has to wonder where he acquired the expertise, but no answer is given. The dumbest thing though is that Leland chases after the vehicle screaming at Rutanya to get out before it goes off and then watches as it explodes convinced she died only to have her reappear later telling him that both she and Avocado where able to get out ‘just in time’, but if that were the case then wouldn’t Leland have noticed since he was looking right at it when it blew up? Also, when the bomb goes off the car doors are shut though it’s hard to believe that Avocado and Rutanya, in their desperation to get out, would’ve made sure to close them when they jumped out.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: September 25, 1981

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Rex Bromfield, Al Waxman, Mark Warren

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Nobody’s Perfekt (1981)

nobodys perfekt 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: Crazies fight city hall.

Dibley (Gabe Kaplan) who suffers from unpredictable memory loss, Swaboda (Alex Karras) who thinks his mother is still alive and with him at all times even when she really isn’t and Walter (Robert Klein) who has a split personality that can turn him from a gangster to Bette Davis at any given moment decide to steal an army tank and use it to force the mayor (Arthur Rosenberg) to pay for a new car when their old one gets damaged after driving through one of the city’s potholes. They get Dibley’s girlfriend Carol (Susan Clark) to go along with the scheme and in the process get caught up with a robbery of an armed bankroll truck.

If it was possible to give this thing a negative number rating I would and I seriously considered it, but decided to be generous and give it a 0 even though this thing has to be one of the dumbest comedies ever made. I’ve seen a lot of them, but at least they usually had one or two funny gags even if the rest fell flat, but this one has none. The humor is at a 6-year-old’s level and is painfully stupid from beginning to end without a shred of believability. It also features what has to be one of the slowest, most drawn out and boring car chases ever to be put on film

Mental illness is no laughing matter and the way it gets portrayed here could be considered offensive. Screenwriter Tony Kenrick, who also wrote the novel from which this film is based as well as director Peter Bonerz have clearly not done any research on the topic and portray those afflicted with it in the most sophomoric and benign way possible. In reality these characters would not have been able to hold down regular jobs like they do here and even if they did they would have been quickly fired once their mental problems became easily apparent. They would also most likely be on medications and even institutionalized instead of freely gallivanting around and only seeing an inept shrink (portrayed by Paul Stewart in a very clichéd send-up of Sigmund Freud) once a week who seems to have no insight on how to help them.

The ‘normal’ characters are just as annoyingly stupid. When the trio decide they want to steal a tank from a local plant that makes them they have Kaplan pretend to be from a ‘top secret’ government organization that tricks one of the employees, which is played here by director Bonerz, into believing that his company is secretly selling the tanks to the Soviets without him ever demanding any evidence or proof.

Kaplan may have been a great stand-up comedian and in recent years a good poker player, but as an actor he is one of the worst. In fact I always felt he was  the weakest link in the Welcome Back Kotter show as he always said his lines like he was reading them off of cue cards while constantly conveying a sheepish grin and here he is no better. Former football player Karras and fellow comedian Klein are equally weak. Only Clark is good, but why she would choose to do this after appearing in so much critical acclaimed stuff during the 70’s is a mystery, but she most likely did it to stay close to her then husband Karras and still manages to look great in a bikini.

If the filmmakers really thought that the American public would find this funny then they are the ones suffering from mental illness as only a mentally ill person could possibly find it amusing and if you watch it all the way through you more than likely will become one.

My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: August 7, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Peter Bonerz

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD-R, Amazon Instant Video