Sunday, September 7, 2014

National Lampoon's Last Resort (Rafal Zielinski, 1994)

Here's a film that features the winsome Maureen Flannigan (7th Heaven) cavorting about in a tropical paradise in a plethora of slit-heavy sarongs and boasts the ever effulgent Demetra Hampton (Red Shoe Diaries) writhing on her bed in black opera gloves and crouching on windowsills in black fishnet pantyhose, yet the thing I can't seem to shake, the thing that is currently keeping me up at night, are the fedora hat bands attached to the fedoras sitting atop Corey Feldman's head. Wait a second, fedoras? Do you really think he has eight fedoras? Or does he have one fedora and simply switches the hat band on it depending on his mood? For example, purple means he's feeling like a self-absorbed douchebag, red is for when he's going for the whole pompous douchebag vibe, blue is his hateful douchebag look, and... Well, you get the idea. He might have owned eight fedoras at the height of his fame, but this is 1993/94 were talking about it (money's tight and fedoras ain't cheap).  Anyway, I'm at a loss. I mean, what was with the freakin' fedoras? Here I am, trying to enjoy the surrealist nightmare that is National Lampoon's Last Resort (a.k.a. National Lampoon's Scuba School) like a normal human being, and Corey Feldman is ruining it with his asinine fashion sense.

Should I even bother bringing up the black blazers with the arms cut off? Ahh, just writing that makes my inner Tim Gunn feel all queasy and junk. What am I doing? Stop being such a big baby. So, Corey Feldman wears black blazers with the arms cut off (blegh) and sports a different coloured hat band on his fedora in every scene, I'm not going to let a little thing like that spoil the filmed headache that is this sort of motion picture.

Besides, Corey Feldman does wear pointy black leather shoes with buckles on them with his so-called ensemble. In other words, it's not a complete disaster.

Taking a break from tearing apart Corey Feldman's signature look for just a second, I would like to point out that this film was directed by Rafal Zielinski and written by Patrick Labyorteaux. The fact that this film was directed by the man who brought us Valet Girls and Screwballs should come as no surprise, as it has the same sense of whimsy and off-kilter fun. However, Patrick Labyorteaux? Ram from Heathers? Out of all the actors who appeared in Heathers, the guy who played Ram was the last person I expected to get a screenplay produced. Why? It's simple, really. He's an idiot. Not Patrick Labyorteaux, the character he plays in Heathers.

A profound meditation on the meaning of life, National Lampoon's Last Resort is actually a sardonic satire, a wickedly funny one to boot, that attempts to shed some light on the importance of being true to yourself.

Is anyone buying that? (You lost them a long time ago.) When? (I'm not sure exactly, but going on  incessantly about Corey Feldman's fedoras didn't help your cause.) Again, I don't think pluralizing the word fedora is necessary, as I think Corey Feldman is trying to trick us into thinking he has an endless supply of fedoras by merely changing the hat band.

Getting through the opening credits of  National Lampoon's Last Resort without having a seizure will be a minor miracle, as bright colours and hypersonic camera work bombard the viewer almost immediately.

The sight of a mop-wielding Dave Eisenhower (Corey Haim) rollerblading in the kitchen of a fast-food restaurant with a virtual reality helmet on combined with the sight of Sam Carver (Corey Feldman) relaxing on the beach are the next images that greet us.

It turns out that Sam Carver isn't at the beach after all, he's just day-dreaming about being at the beach, and being surrounded by a bevy of babes in bikinis. In fact, he's working at the same fast-food joint as Dave, his best bud.

In his dream, Sam is wearing a black fedora with a white hat band. But in reality, Sam is wearing a black fedora with a red hat band while standing over a vat of fries. I wonder if there's any significance to the colours of his hat bands. I mean, why white for the dream, yet reality gets red? Hmmm.

You'll notice that all the bikini babes are wearing black and white as well. I know, pretty interesting, eh? If you thought that was interesting, wait until I tell you who's standing in line at the fast-food restaurant Sam and Dave work as at. (Well?) Oh, a member of the Detroit Red Wings. (I don't get it?) Don't you see? Red hat band, Red Wings. It's all connected, man.

What these connections mean exactly is anyone's guess. But it does prove that there's more to National Lampoon's Last Resort than meets the eye.

While helping a choking victim, Sam, who actually thought the choking victim was his dream girl in a black one-piece bathing suit, the piece of food lodged in her throat goes flying off the helmet of the Detroit Red Wings player and hits the owner of the fast-food restaurant in the head causing him to step into Dave's mop bucket.  Unable to keep his balance, the restaurant owner then crashes into the fuse box, causing a fire to break out.

With their place of employment reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble, Sam and Dave go home to relax. The colour dichotomy of the previous scene continues unabated during this scene as well, as Sam and Dave's apartment is half blue and half red. Unfortunately, Sam and Dave won't be able to enjoy their apartment's colour scheme for much longer, as they're evicted by the building's landlord.

Sitting on a bench, Sam and Dave try to figure out their next move. While going through their mail, Sam discovers a letter from his Uncle Rex (Geoffrey Lewis), a former actor (known for a series of pirate movies) who now runs a pirate themed resort on the Grand Cayman.

How, you might ask, are two down on their luck losers from Detroit going to be able to afford to fly down to the Cayman Islands? Duh. They use the magic doohickey given to them by the bag lady (Jane Swofford) sitting next to them on the bench. And before you can say, does Corey Feldman really front ska band called Truth Movement?, Sam and Dave land on a beach on the Grand Cayman with their luggage in tow.

And when I say, "land on a beach," that's exactly what I mean. To quote Dave, they literally "jumped through the sky."

Oh, and just to prove the producers are not lazy morons with no sense of humour, we see the bag lady pushing her shopping cart around the island every once and awhile. It would seem that the bag lady "jumped through the sky" as well.

Met on the beach by Sonja (Maureen Flannigan), an Earth servant to the island Amazon goddess of Ya-Ya, Sam and Dave manage to convince the ebullient young tulip that they're scuba experts from Detroit. And Navy Seals... and C.I.A. agents; Dave's code name is "Storm Shadow."

However, Dave does say one truthful thing upon meeting Sonja. It occurs when he introduces himself as an "anally compulsive cyberpunk searching for electronic bliss." Call me crazy, but I think that's the best line in the movie.

The film's funniest line, in my opinion, is the one where Flash Mackenzie (Michael Ralph), an island tour bus driver, says, "Right in the middle of scuba country," after learning that Sam and Dave are scuba experts from Detroit. The other genuinely funny bit occurs when an elderly married couple (Milton Slezer and Eda Reiss Merin) mistake a family of "Morgies" (fans of Rex Carver's Captian Morgan pirate movies) for Guns N' Roses.

Anyway, when Rex Carver's rival, a fellow actor named Hemlock (Robert Mandan), hears that a couple of C.I.A. agents masquerading as scuba experts are on the island, he does everything in his power to disrupt the everyday operation of the resort. I think that makes sense. Let me put this way, Rex and Hemlock don't like each other.

Okay, now that I got that plot-based nonsense out of the way, let's get back to focusing on what's really important. And that is, my love-hate relationship with Corey Feldman's wardrobe. I think the reason his clothes struck such a profound chord with me is because they're so close to what I used to wear on a daily basis. It's true, I've never donned a fedora (at least not out in public). But I did wear pointy creepers with buckles on them. In fact, like Corey Feldman does on several occasion during this movie, I think I even wore them to the beach.

To put it in even more frightening terms, every time I saw Corey Feldman canoodling with Demetra Hampton's Alex, a femme fatal secretly working for Hemlock, it was like looking directly into a mirror. Ugh, talk about honesty in motion.

I don't care who knows it, so here it goes: I am, simply put, Corey Feldman's character in National Lampoon's Last Resort. The creepers, the black clothing, the ponytail, the attraction to dark-haired women in black fishnets, the spastic dance moves, the Jerry Lewis-style approach to comedy, it's all there in stark technicolor.

Ahhh, that was tough. As they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Fourth wall breaking a go-go, a game show hosted by Zelda Rubinstein, wackiness-a-plenty, tag team ballroom dancing, red berets, implied mermaid sex, Tony Longo in drag, and, best of all, an underwater concert by Dread Zeppelin, National Lampoon's Last Resort is cinema at its... Oh, man, I wanna say, "finest," but I can't seem to pull the trigger. How 'bout this, National Lampoon's Last Resort is cinema at its most bewildering? Yeah, I like that, bewildering. Yo-Ho-Ho...

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