Saturday, October 15, 2005

Day 15: Dr Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine

Man on Motorcycle: Why me? Why me all the time?
Every now and then, The Simpsons will portray a parody of an entry into an older genre of film. Dr. Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine plays just like one of these parodies. Of the movies I’ve watched so far, it was the hardest to get through. It’s a frantic, horribly paced, unfunny comedy whose only saving grace comes, just barely, from Vincent Price’s gleeful performance as Dr. Goldfoot. The score is atrocious, playing constantly, Mickey Mousing every minute detail of the film. For all its sound and fury, it just winds up being noisy and, really, really not funny.

Was this kind of movie ever funny? It reminds me of the lesser entries in Leslie Nielsen’s oeuvre, titles like Spy Hard, or Wrongfully Accused. So very, very misguided and desperate to make you laugh, it resorts to pulling your pants down in public, pointing and laughing at your underwear, and then nudging you with its elbow, saying, “huh? Huh?” Frankie Avalon stars in the film as our protagonist and he’s like Jerry Lewis’s unfunny 3rd cousin. Clowning, mugging, and slapstick are the order of the day. There’s no wit to the wordplay and the script has a lot of, um, “fun” giving Vincent Price lines containing slang, the kind of joke you’d see Estelle Getty doing on The Golden Girls.

Poor Vincent Price. He’s clearly having fun playing against his persona as Dr. Goldfoot here. I thought that his having fun would be infectious for a while, but the movie fails him time and time again by giving Price the lamest line you can imagine and then cutting to Frankie Avalon smacking a door into his boss’s ass or falling down or mugging while a slide whistle plays in the background. Ugh. Goldfoot wants to take over the world, like any good super villain. The plan is to make sexy women robots trick men into marrying them, and, then, stealing all their money through power of attorney paperwork. Avalon works for some government investigation place that’s abbreviated SIC (leading to such classic exchanges as, “I’m a SIC man.” “I’ll say you are.” UGH) and gets wind of Goldfoot’s plot. Yeah.

To be fair: I did laugh once or twice in the movie. One scene has Price instructing his bikini-clad robots on the arts of seduction (this is funny in and of itself, in retrospect). One of the robots starts dancing and the music takes on a surf-music beat. Then, as if dancing is a virus for robots, the others start dancing too. Price blusters and screams, “STOP! STOP! STOP!” as they dance around him. If they had let this scene go on longer, I probably would have been on the floor. And there’s one joke that is inexplicably funny to me, just in the way it’s so completely nonsensical. Price, showing off his lair to some captives, walks to a door and says “I think you’ll like this.” He opens the door and a man is chained to a running a motorcycle. The man looks up to the camera and says, “Why me? Why me all the time?” I’m positive I’m missing a reference here because this makes no sense whatsoever. And that’s precisely why I was on the floor after this, um… joke?

The movie is shot, acted, and paced like a live action Looney Tunes cartoon. But part of the joy of those cartoons is their running times. Ninety minutes is far too long to sustain this breakneck pace and, anyway, there’s hardly enough story to go around. This movie would have been much better as a five to seven minute short and, preferably, directed by Chuck Jones. As it is, it plays like a stereotype of a bad sixties comedy, rife with sexism, pratfalls, and crossed-eye fainting. It’s certainly an interesting curio piece that is easier to laugh at than to laugh with.

Week 2 Index

Day 8: Wallace & Gromit
Day 9: The Passion of the Christ
Day 10: First Blood
Day 11: Danger Diabolik
Day 12: Carnal Knowledge
Day 13: Rasputin: The Mad Monk
Day 14: Dracula (1979)