Saturday, February 07, 2009

Amazon Women on the Moon

(Movie Review)

My local video store has decided once and for all to get ride of all their VHS. They're selling them all now for less than $1, which is less than it costs to rent them.

I was browsing through, and I thought I might as well buy a couple, just because it's always useful to have a few movies around the apartment in case you're entertaining guests or something. Of course I wouldn't watch them unless I had company over. I have way to many reading projects I'm trying to work on to get distracted by any more movies.

So, I bought 3 comedies from the 80s: "Amazon Women on the Moon", "National Lampoon's Vacation" and "Stripes". With the intention of just keeping them on the shelf, and not using them unless I was entertaining guests.

...And then wouldn't you know it, I got sick of studying and I watched them all that same weekend.
Blast my weak will power!

Well, here come the movie reviews. Expect my reviews of "Vacation" and "Stripes" to appear in the next couple days.

"Amazon Women on the Moon" isn't a coherent story, it's just a combination of different sketches. Much like an episode of "Saturday Night Live" or "Mad TV". Or, like its predecessor "Kentucky Fried Movie" (on which a number of the same people were apparently involved--according to the wikipedia article).

In fact, once I started watching it, I realized I had seen parts of it before on Comedy Central back in the 90s (it must have been one of those movies they re-ran all the time back then) and I had either mistook it for Saturday Night Live at the time, or the later got mixed up in my mind, because for years now I've been telling people one of my favorite SNL skits is where the invisible man is actually suffering from a delusion, running naked around the bar, and all the bar patrons are just humoring him. ("Oh no, who moved all the checkered pieces? It must be the invisible man again?")
It turns out that this sketch actually came "Amazon Women on the Moon".

Although this movie has it's funny moments, it does raise the question: with all the weekly sketch comedy TV shows out there, do we really need a whole movie? Isn't this essentially just like a 90 minute version of Saturday Night Live? (minus commercials)

Given the fact that they had more time and money to spend on this (and that it wasn't under the stresses of live television) you would expect this to be better than an average episode of SNL. And it is. But not by much.

But then, as they say, "dying is easy, comedy is hard." If you have an action movie, you can guarantee thrills to a certain extent by dumping a bunch of money and time into production. With comedy, either lightening strikes, or it doesn't.
(The recent Simpsons Movie, for example, is a perfect example of how a lot of money and time failed to produce something that was any funnier than the weekly TV show).

To be fair, there is no equivalent of the SNL cheerleader sketch in this movie. Nor the sketch near the middle of SNL which is just a blatant time filler and goes on for far too long after you've already caught the joke.
The editing, in short, is a lot better on this movie (which I guess is to be expected, since it's only one 90 minute movie, and not a whole season which desperately needs material). But if you took a "Best of" collection of SNL, I think it would be just as good as this.

The title of the movie comes from the main sketch, a parody of 1950s science fiction exploitation movies. This parody movie provides the over all structure of the film, with the other sketches inserted in as commercials or channel flipping.
Unfortunately the title sketch "Amazon Women on the Moon" is the least funniest. It feels like a fairly accurate recreation of a 1950s film, but there's nothing particularly funny about it. The good news is that, although in combined time it amounts to the longest sketch of the movie, you only have to watch it in short segments at a time before another sketch breaks in and interrupts.

The film is meant to imitate late night channel surfing, quickly switching from one program to another. I watched it dead sober at the time, but I imagine it's probably the kind of film where the enjoyment is enhanced by being slightly buzzed.

The movie was made in 1987, and, if you like 80s nostalgia, there's a lot of that in the movie for you. Everything from the haircuts, to the fashion, is so 80s. And, although many of the parodies are made looking backwards to films of the 1940s and 50s, many of the topical concerns are distinctly 80s. In one sketch, a character is overjoyed by the wonders of his TV remote control. In another one, video pirates sail the seas and make illegal copies of video tapes. (Remember when people used to be worried about making illegal copies of VHS? That's one problem the Internet has certainly cleared up for us).

The cast is an interesting combination of rising stars before they were famous, and former stars on their way down the other side of the slope.
For example, the Funeral Roast segment contains such famous comedians as Steve Allen (W), Rip Taylor (W), Slappy White (W), Jackie Vernon (W) , Henny Youngman (W) and Charlie Callas (W). Really, who are these guys?

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