Film Reviews

Joe Bob Briggs

Ever once in a while some photographer or hiker or anthropologist or somebody finds a new "Stone Age tribe" living in Papua, New Guinea or Borneo or the Congo or the Amazon River Basin.

A big article comes out in Time magazine, and somebody writes a book about how "gentle" and "unspoiled" they are because all they do all day is run around nekkid in a cave.

And then a couple years later some photographer will go back there, and they'll all be wearin' Metallica sweatshirts and sellin' bootleg videos to tourists.

And everybody goes, "Oh, isn't that awful!"
And then the missionaries show up--Babtists and Catholics and those French guys with the funny shirts--and they turn all the Stone Age Nekkid People into Christians, and this makes the anthropologists mad because they think "You oughta leave 'em alone," and when you ask 'em why they want us to leave 'em alone, they say "So we can study 'em."

And then the tribespeople start buying Evinrude motors for their canoes, and tradin' in their loincloths for Levis, and basically turnin' themselves into Jungle Mall Rats.

And everybody thinks, "This is really disgusting. Modern civilization has destroyed these people."

But lemme 'splain somethin' here.
What if the Outer Mongolian Tribespeople want Evinrude speed boats?
What if they're sick to death of paddlin' their canoes all day?

What if it's easier to buy some cheap denim workshirts from German tourists than to sew banana leaves together?

And I don't much like missionaries either, but I gotta ask:
Isn't it their goldurn choice whether they wanna be Babtists or tree-worshipers? What if bein' a Babtist makes 'em feel better, because they're switchin' over from some religion that's full of fear and revenge and superstition?

In other words, why don't we just let the dang people choose what they want?
If Indian tribes in Ecuador wanna drive around the jungle in Toyotas, that's what they wanna do.

If African tribes wanna spend all their money on cellular phones so they don't have to use drum signals anymore, I don't blame 'em.

If the Stone Age people of Papua, New Guinea wanna charge tourists five bucks to come into the village and look at their Sacred Baboon Statue, let 'em make a little jack for the public treasury.

Everybody says "leave 'em alone." But that doesn't mean treat 'em like they're pets. Show 'em everything we have. Let 'em use what they want.

They can go to the mall if they want to.
They're just like us.
I'm surprised I have to point this out.

Speaking of Stone Age behavior, this week's flick, Improper Conduct, has an actor named John Laughlin who's so creepy, sleazy, slimy, geeky, oily and generally a Reptile in a Business Suit that this almost qualifies as a horror film.

He's an ad executive who gets his job because his father-in-law, Stuart Whitman, owns the company.

And all he cares about is recruiting "executive assistants" he can sleep with.

This makes no sense, because he's already married to Playboy Playmate of the Year Kathy Shower, so they make her pregnant in the script, and she walks around for most of the movie grinning with a pillow under her dress.

Meanwhile, Laughlin straps on a shark fin and goes after Tahnee Welch, who has a reputation as the party girl around the office, the kind of girl who likes to use the Xerox machine as a back support, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Unfortunately for the boss, Tahnee thinks he's about as attractive as an iguana with cooties.

So when he walks over to look at her drawings, and puts his hand right there, she gets a little nervous.

When he gets on the elevator with her and starts pawing her dress, she gets a lot nervous.

And when she gets fired for telling him what he can do to himself, she hires sensitive soap opera type Steven Bauer to be her lawyer in a sexual hair-ass-ment case.

But they've got problems--no witnesses, plus a bunch of catty women in the office who don't like Tahnee, plus her reputation for aardvarkin' all over the lot, plus a slimoid defense attorney.

Pretty soon the judge pronounces Laughlin innocent, Tahnee ends up drunk in a bar. She drives down the interstate, goes out of control--and pretty soon her sister, Lee Anne Beaman, is seeking revenge.

As you can see, we've got way too much plot gettin' in the way of the story, but it's basically a feminist revenge flick disguised as an erotic thriller, with Lee Anne as the female Chuck Bronson.

Halfway decent. In fact, fullway decent.
Three dead bodies. Twelve breasts. Multiple aardvarking. High heel to the groin area. One motor vehicle chase, with crash.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations to:
John Laughlin, as the ultimate Sleazy Boss From Hell, for saying, "Ashley, what makes you such a tease?"

Stuart Whitman, as the hear-no-evil see-no-evil owner, for saying, "My son-in-law is a churchgoing man."

Matt Roe, as the defense attorney who says, "Do you engage in sex in public places with all your friends?"

Kathy Shower, as the frumpy pregnant housewife who gets cheated on, for saying, "You should be ashamed!" and "You will never see the baby!"

Everette Lamar, as the gay bike-riding assistant who gets run down by an attempted assassin, for saying, "He's gonna hurt somebody else, isn't he?"

Patsy Pease, as the oversexed, ambitious bitch who says, "You promised me that assistant position if I testified on your behalf!"

Steven Bauer, as the nice-guy lawyer who says, "If you think what this guy's about is sex, you're wrong--his game is power--power over women!"

Lee Anne Beaman, as the homely sister who transforms herself into a sex-starved vixen, for saying, "I have to see you tonight" and "I'm doing what I have to do."

And to veteran Indian director Jag Mundhra, for doing it the drive-in way.
Four stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

Copyright 1994 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NYT Special Features/Syndication Sales). To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get free junk in the mail or his world-famous newsletter, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221. Joe Bob has a NEW fax number at his trailer house: 214-985-7448. Joe Bob on CompuServe: 76702,1435.

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Joe Bob Briggs