Monday, December 22, 2008

Fast Food (1989)

Directed by Michael Simpson
Starring Jim Varney, Traci Lords, Pamela Springsteen
Rated PG-13

"So, you into marine biology?"
"Well, I know how to swim."

Auggie (Clark Brandon) is one of those over-confident, constantly-scheming Ferris Bueller types. As the film opens, he's hosting a casino night fundraiser for his fraternity house. He has, of course, rigged all the games. And then he bangs a freshman who, it turns out, is the dean's daughter.

Let us pause here and examine this curious trend in 80's teen-flicks. In the wake of Ferris and the Cult of Guttenberg, a new character emerged: the charming prick. In the case of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Police Academy, the characters worked because the actors really were charming, and despite their rakish behavior, they never really did any harm. By 1989, there were dozens of films that employed a similar character in the lead role, minus the actual charm, wit, or heart. And so you are left with villains-turned-inside-out like this smug fucker Auggie who, in the first five minutes of the movie, has already wrecked several lives. Who's to blame for this alarming trend? Cocaine? Reagan? Hard to say, but one thing is for certain, the target demographic for these films were not womanizing alpha-jerks. Those assholes were into Top Gun. There were no Auggies watching low-ball junk like this. These movies were rented and adored by misfits, cellar-dwellars, shut-in nerdboys and nocturnal masturbators, not fuck-faces with Rick Springfield haircuts and wifebeaters. So, you know, there better be some decent nude scenes, because the hero is a zero.

So anyway, back to our story. Auggie and his middle-aged pal Drew (Randal Patrick) get summoned to the dean's office, who informs them that eight years of hijinks is quite enough. He gives 'em diplomas and sends them on their way. Meanwhile, Drew's cousin Samantha (Tracy Griffith) runs a rundown, in-the-hole gas station inherited from their grandfather. Bazillionaire fast food magnate Wrangler Bob (Jim Varney, RIP) wants to buy it and turn it into one of his hamburger joints, since it sits across the street from the college. You see where this is going? Smelling easy money, Auggie convinces Sam and Drew that they should open their own fast food place there instead. Fuck Wrangler Bob. And that's what happens. Pop's service station becomes Pop's Burgers. Cue the 80's fixing-the-place-up montage. It's your classic David versus Goliath story. But where's the boners come in? Well, there's a twist.

Back at the college, in some deep, dark lab, two scientists are doing research on Priapism, which we now know, from watching countless Viagra commercials, is a "constant, painful erection." So the scientist gets a whiff of the formula she's working on, and she goes sex-mad. She rips off the other scientist's clothes and bangs him into oblivion. Some bullshit happens, and Auggie ends up using the sex formula in Pop's special sauce. Who, after all, wouldn't want a hamburger that'll make your girlfriend horny?

They get a gig catering a fancy-pants sorority mixer at the college, and that's when they try out their fuck sauce for the first time. The upper-crusty bores start chomping on the sauce-slathered meat, and the lame-o dinner turns into a wild orgy of...well, it's hard to say what happens, really. Since Fast Food is hampered by a PG-13 rating, they don't actually show a whiff of sexy shenanigans. At one point, they line up a row of girls for a wet t-shirt contest...and then they never have the fucking contest. Rats. By the way, Mary Beth, the curly-haired sorority queen...boss...whatever they call her, is portrayed by Pamela "Sister-of-Bruce" Springteen. Pam is most remembered for her role as the gender-bending psycho killer in gonzo summer-camp slashers Sleepaway Camp II. & III. Micheal Simpson directed those as well, and if you look closely, you'll find half the cast of the Sleepway Camp movies wandering around in Fast Food. If only Simpson brought along some of the crazed energy, bizarre plot twists, and kinky sexuality of the Sleepaway Camp sequels as well, because this movie sorely needs them.

The very next day, business is booming, as evidenced by a montage wherein an old guy chases a nurse around a tree and two chubby lesbians in denim jackets rock a trailer. At one point a nun and a priest stare longingly in each other's eyes, but before they can tongue-kiss or whatever they had planned, God shoots them with lightning. Wrangler Bob hires Traci Lords on as a corporate spy. He calls her on his hamburger phone, by the way. So he was a good twenty years ahead of Juno on that one. Traci gets a job at Pop's Burgers and weird ol' Michael J Pollard - who works there in some unspecified capacity - spills the beans about the sauce.

Traci has to try it herself, of course, so that we can get a shot of her in her undies, when she attempts to seduce Auggie. But Auggie is now convinced that he's in love with Samantha, so he rebuffs her. Which, I guarantee you, has never, ever happened to Traci Lords in real life.

Wrangler Bob calls the FDA, they seize Pop's burgers, and everybody declares their hatred for Auggie. Dejected, he hangs himself. Later on, Sam finds his still-spinning corpse and sets it ablaze. The end.

Not really. The first part, yeah, but the end is a little different.

Fast Food is still a cable TV staple and a minor cult hit amongst squares, Traci Lords completists, and thirty five year old women with a lingering Clark Brandon crush, but for sleaze-beasts and tit-mongers, there is very little to grasp onto here. The acting is above par and so are the production values, but if you were expecting the standard Michael Simpson experience - full-tilt, balls-out lunacy - stick with his slashers. This was, by the way, the last film Simpson directed, and the last one that Clark Brandon acted in. Simpson's been writing and producing family fare ever since. Brandon, who knows. He's probably out there scamming chicks or something.

PS: Fear not, fried meat fans...there are far sleazier fast food-related jiggle-coms out there, and we'll get to 'em soon.

Availability: Fast Food is available on DVD.
Buy Fast Food at Amazon.
-Ken McIntyre

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