Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hunk (Lawrence Bassoff, 1987)

You don't hear about yuppies, or, as they're sometimes called, "yuppie scum," that much nowadays. Why is that? Is it because they're called hipsters now? Nah, hipsters are descendents of Duckie, yuppies are actually descendents of Blaine. The influence of the yuppie, and, to a lesser extent, their European cousins, "Euro-trash," has always been a contentious issue in the West. Causing those who view themselves as cool to fly into fits of rage, yuppies have always been seen as vile creatures that need to be destroyed on sight. Of course, I can make an incendiary statement like that without fear of reprisals because no one has ever admitted to being a yuppie. In other words, I won't be getting a sternly worded note from the anti-yuppie defamation league telling me to curb my disdain for everything they stand for. You want to know why? There is no such organization. And one of the main reasons there is no such organization is a movie from 1987 called simply, Hunk. I was beginning to wonder what all this yuppie talk had to do with this movie. Briefly touching on the nascent yuppie phenomenon in Weekend Pass, writer-director Lawrence Bassoff obviously saw the insidious impact they were having on society and decided to do something about it. You'll notice that Mr. Bassoff has only two directorial credits to his name. The reason Hunk would be the last film he ever made was because the yuppie scum that ran Hollywood in the 1980s were so alarmed by the anti-materialism, anti-superficiality, anti-war message his film was putting out there, that they probably had him blacklisted. Wait a minute, Hunk is anti-war?!? I can see the others, but anti-war? You're crazy.

Crazy, eh? Name another movie where a socially awkward computer programmer is given the choice between being a hunk with killer pecs or an everyday slob with mediocre pecs? What's that? You say that sounds like the plot of every movie in existence? Aw, crap, I forget to mention if he picks the latter, the world will be engulfed by violence and destruction. Oh, and before you say: Isn't the world already engulfed by violence and destruction? I meant to say, more violence and destruction than usual. We're pretty much talking World War III up in this cinematic cubbyhole.

On top of having the weight of the world on his muscular and sometimes not-so muscular shoulders (depending on which guise he is currently taking), the hunky/dorky protagonist at the centre of this surprisingly profound undertaking ("surprisingly," because it was produced by none other than Crown International Pictures) has to deal with issues of a supernatural nature.

What actor do you hire when you need someone to represent the most powerful force in the known universe? I don't know, how 'bout, Charlton Heston? No? Okay, James Earl Jones, perhaps? Not even close, eh? I got it, James Hong? Nice try. First of all, he's a she. And secondly...actually, there's no need for "secondly." Her name is Deborah Shelton (Body Double), and, mark my words, she will convince you to do her bidding. How does she do that exactly? How does she do that?!? You're kidding, right? She's Deborah Shelton. Doing her bidding is her middle name. Well, it's not actually her middle name. But it totally could be - you know, if she went down to the name-changing place and filled out a form or something, and waited six to eight weeks.

If the first thought to cross your mind when you start watching Hunk is: Did I accidentally put in a gay porno into my video player? Don't worry, you're not alone. Incorrectly thinking that Hunk is gay porno is a common mistake. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's gay all right. It's just that a lot of people might not be able to handle the in your face masculinity that the film unleashes on the viewer right out of the gate.

Shot from every angle imaginable, the film opens with a faceless man getting ready to go out. After watching him lather up in the shower, shave, and blow dry his hair, the man gets in his red convertible and leaves his swanky beach house. You'll notice that as he's driving, all the women on street stop and stare at him with a pussy moistening awe.

Walking into a building, the faceless man, a muscular man with blonde hair, enters the office of Dr. Susan Graves, PhD. (Rebecca Bush). Hold up, why does this guy need to see a shrink? It's funny you should ask that, as we're about to find out.

You see, he's not who he says is. Apparently, he's not a hunky blonde, but a nerdy computer programmer named Bradly Brinkman (Steve Levitt). Pretty unbelievable, right? Well, sit back and relax, because the hunky blonde is about to tell Dr. Graves, "Sunny," to her friends, the bizarre story of how Bradly Brinkman ceased to exist.

Working as a computer programmer for Constantine Constapopolis (Avery Schreiber), the owner of Constapopolis Computers, Bradly Brinkman spends most of his time writing computer code and daydreaming about being a hunk. Caught doing the latter one day by his Mr. Constapopolis, Bradly is told to come up with a new computer program by tomorrow morning or else he'll end up working at his boss's father's Greek restaurant Cyclops West.

Due to unexplained circumstances, "The Yuppie Program," a how-to guide for fledgling yuppies, miraculously appears on Bradly's desk. His boss is so pleased by this program, that he gives Bradly a big fat royalty check and the rest of the summer off. Renting a beach house in the exclusive community of Sea Spray, Bradly plans on relaxing for the rest of the summer.

He's barely had time to get settled in when he's confronted by Polly Clutter, a.k.a. Chachka (Cynthia Szigeti), a garrulous busybody along the lines of Marlene Willoughby's Frannie Grudkow from A Woman's Torment. Giving him a tour of the area, Chachka introduces Bradly to the so-called heavy-hitters of the Sea Spray social circle, who are, of course, playing beach Trivial Pursuit when he meets them. And they are: Coaster Royce (Page Mosely), Laurel Springs (Melanie Vincz), Skeet Mecklenburger (Doug Shanklin), and Alexis Cash (Hilary Shepard).

"Igor Stravinsky? Wrong!" And with that line, we're introduced to the comedic genius that is Hilary Shepard. What the fuck? Comedic genius? I didn't see that coming. Whatever do you mean? I thought you were going to start talking about her legs or something. Don't get me wrong, her legs are amazing. It's just that I was quite taken with Hilary's abilities as a comedian in this movie. In fact, one of the few pleasures I got from Hunk was watching her various facial expressions. I was particularly impressed with her eye-rolling technique; I have no doubt that she could go eye-roll-o-eye-roll with Winona Ryder, the queen of the unimpressed eye-roll.

While Hilary is putting on an eye-rolling clinic, you will notice Brad Pitt chilling on an inflatable beach chair sipping on a mai tai in the background whenever Skeet is onscreen. The only reason I mention this is because Brad Pitt is now a well-known actor/perfume shill.

Unimpressed with the heavy-hitters, especially their "aura of arrogance," Bradly still wants them to except him. Shunned by Alexis and Coaster at the Sand Castle, a local yuppie bar, and completely ignoring his housewarming party, the residents of Sea Spray seem to want nothing to do with Bradly Brinkman. What if he changed his name to Hunk Golden? Still not enough, you say? Okay, how about if he made a pact with a witch with a Class B sorcery license? You're getting warmer.

What if I told you the pact was made with a brunette demon goddess named O'Brien (Deborah Shelton), and the trial offer involved acquiring the thighs of Sylvester Stallone, the pelvis of Elvis Presley, the navel of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the nipples of Robert Redford, the eyes of Paul Newman, and the schlong of King King overnight? Well, first of all, getting the eyes of Paul Newman is the only one of those things that makes any sense. I mean, Robert Redford's nipples? King Kong's schlong? Ugh.

When Brady Brinkman wakes up the following morning, he discovers that he's been magically transformed into Hunk Golden (John Allen Nelson), a musclebound blonde with a killer bod. It should be noted that most guys would kill to have Bradly Brinkman's body. Nevertheless, John Allen Nelson's body is a work of art; it's no wonder Hunk is considered a minor classic throughout certain segments of the gay population.

As expected, the superficial yuppies who shunned Bradly Brinkman earlier in the film, fully embrace Hunk Golden; some, in fact, take it one step further (I'm looking at you, Laurel Springs - you gold digging whore - oops, did I say that out loud?). You could say, Hunk Golden becomes the toast of Sea Spray, as every time he walks down the beach in his Speedo becomes an event; hell, even mermaids want to have sexual relations with him.

While I enjoyed the scenes where Deborah Shelton's O'Brien would check up on Bradly/Hunk, the performance by James Coco as Dr. D (a.k.a. The Devil), who usually shows up during these "check up" scenes, was, let's just say, lackluster at best. Hampered by cheesy costumes, I felt the Dr. D character was completely unnecessary. That being said, John Allen Nelson and Steve Levitt (previously best known to me as the bellboy from Private School) both give excellent performances. Yeah, you heard right, excellent. Of course, they're nowhere near as compelling as Hilary Shepard. But then again, not that many people are.


  1. Holy Schnikees, I thought I was the only one who'd ever seen this movie! Ha ha ha saw it when i was about 12 or something! So 80's! Thanks for the flashbacks!

  2. Hunk is appropriate for children of all ages. Fun for the entire family.

  3. Oh man! Loved this review and definitely remember this 80s trash gem of a movie! Awesome write-up! Still laugh at "My name is Hunk Golden??"; the scene where the disillusioned guy throws down his hunk doll; and the lovvvvely O'Brien. Yowza. And yes! I agree! Both actors of the "hunky-dorky" variety did a great job as Bradley!