Monday, December 8, 2008

My Chauffeur (David Beaird, 1986)

The feistily chromatic figure of new wave feminism and the cold, phallic steel of a vagina-exclusionary limousine cabal collide head-on in the light and extremely frothy My Chauffeur, a wonderfully invigorating film that I've written about in the past, but have decided to give it another go, because I felt I didn't properly devour its rejuvenating nectar the first time around. Opening with surprisingly creative flourish (a trip through the confines of a busy Italian restaurant), the film tackles sexism, superfluous greed, Arab-American relations, accidental incest, public drunkenness (and the sock-garter-based degradation that goes along with it), punk rock tardiness, and a plethora of other pertinent issues that effected the average citizen of Los Angeles in the mid-1980s with the blunt force of a flailing poodle. But more importantly, it follows Casey Meadows, a ditzy dishwasher and amateur fashion plate, as she attempts to make inroads at Brentwood Limousine Limited, a stodgy chauffeur service that doesn't take kindly to female drivers, or women in general, for that matter. You see, a mysterious note has informed the spunky young tulip that she is welcome to a job at the prestigious limo company, but unfortunately the other drivers (an unorganized collection of decrepit old farts) don't exactly want to welcome her with open liver spot covered arms. This unwelcome disposition is most vocally centered in the bearded form of an asshole named McBride (ably played by reputed non-asshole, Howard Hesseman).

In order to break her spirit, McBride and his old guard alliance, send her out to pick up Catfight (a bratty Leland Crooke), a debauched punk singer renowned for his erratic behaviour. Of course, Casey proves the naysayers wrong and does an excessively competent job.

Now you'd think the newfangled chauffeur would be able to cruise to the top of the limo food chain after a job like that, and you'd be right. However, she must first contend with a handsome, yet slightly arrogant yuppie businessman and the romantic entanglements that can transpire when one finds oneself stranded in the arid hills near Sonoma with said yuppie.

Exploding onto the screen like Stacey Q with a yeast infection, the incomparable Deborah Foreman is a refreshing breath of a random yet highly breathable substance as the Rosa Parks-esque Casey. The way she barges into that stuffy room full of borderline elderly drivers was a thing of presumptuous beauty.

Sheathed in the finest new wave regalia (I loved her lace gloves and cyan ankle socks), the obscenely adorable actress takes a no prisoners approach when it came to communicating whimsy on-screen.

Now some say she goes a little overboard at times, but I say poppycock to that, Miss Foreman is playing a character who is keenly aware that she's living in the 1980s, and therefore she saturates her aura in the appropriate amount of dainty verve and gaudy mettle. It's this fingerless glove-based cognizance that makes the My Chauffeur such a joy to watch. I mean, if you took Deborah's enthusiasm out of the equation, I don't think the film would have worked at all.

Favourite non-Debbie moments (even though she's always near by): The sight of Sam "Flash Gordon" Jones running naked in the park was an entertaining bit of tomfoolery. (Kudos must go out to him for frolicking with such gusto.); and the whole business with Catfight and his trio groupies (one of which was Robin Antin - founder of the Pussycat Dolls) attacking that woman in the park and stealing her ample panties ("I want them panties!"). On paper, this scene sounds unpleasant, but trust me when I say that it was all done in a playful manner.

Even though it still doesn't quite pass my politically correct smell test, the screen debut of Penn and Teller, as a fast talking hustler and a mute Arab oil tycoon who engage in raunchy night on the town, gets more and more tolerable each time I view it. Though, the gratuitous nudity of the party girls they pick up might have something to do its increasing tolerability... tolerableness... it's more tolerable.

Oh, and I really dug the soundtrack, which mostly made up of songs by The Wigs. They perform a catchy, nonthreatening form of pop rock that had me humming afterward like a person who hums songs after he or she hears them. I was particularly fond of "Fire."


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10 comments:

  1. I forgot how funny that movie was. Big ups for this post.

    A one-legged nun walking a goat... |-D

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  2. I like to think that Mr. Catfight went on to find a one-legged nun walking a goat.

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  3. So...I was watching Jon Stewart and there's something going on in Canadaland?

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  4. Is something going on? You're darn tootin', Nico won So You Think You Can Dance Canada. It was awesome.

    Or do mean the Liberals, NDP and the BQ forming a coalition to bring down Stephen Harper's Conservative minority? Because that's going on as well.

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  5. So You Think You Can Dance Canada? Really? Don't you guys just watch our version? ;)

    Yeah, the Stephen Harper situation. What is up with that guy's hair?

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  6. I don't watch either (I hate watching other people do stuff), but the Canadian version was quite popular. Which I think might have something do with the fact that the host was born in Etobicoke.

    This is only a rumour, but I hear the same space age alloy that went into making the Canada Arm (a manipulation system that is a component of the space shuttle) was used in the creation of the Prime Minister's helmet-like hair.

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  7. I don't mean to hijack your My Chauffeur entry, but I just thought of something I've been meaning to ask:

    Do you remember a restaurant in the Eaton Centre called The Magic Pan? There was one in Etobicoke, too, if I remember correctly.

    They had crepes. They were yummy. I like crepes.

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  8. Hmmm, I gave my brain a good racking, but I can't seem recall ever seeing a Magic Pan in the Eaton Centre (not that I was looking for one).

    Nope, the only restaurant I remember from the Yonge & Dundas mall is the Elephant and Castle (they had a British phone box outside the door).

    Oh, and call me weird, but I never had a crepe. *sniff*

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  9. Ms. Foreman blessed us with appearances in a handful of films, and then she was gone. Definitely my biggest crush of the '80s.

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  10. I'm a David Beaird fan- haven't seen this yet (I don't think) although now I'm tempted but saw Scorchers and reviewed his film The Civilization of Maxwell Bright. Mr. Beaird always manages to do more than what seems to be obvious. He's very underrated. It's really too bad. Cheers to you for giving this a second chance!

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