Monday, February 16, 2009

Lunch Wagon (1981)

AKA Lunch Wagon Girls
Come N' Get It
Directed by Ernest Pintoff
Starring Rosanne Katon, Pamela Jean Bryant, Candy Moore, Dale Bozzio, Louisa Moritz, Chuck McCann
Rated R

"Why don't you two hippy freaks take that pile of shit and drive it off a fuckin' cliff?"

It is rare that a low-budget bimbosploitation flick gets so many things right, but you've got to hand it to Oscar-winning (!) director Pintoff, the dude knew his audience. There is rarely a shot anywhere in Lunch Wagon's 88 minute running time that does not involve girls in hotpants, in their underwear, or changing from one to the other. And in the odd moment when nothing is jiggling onscreen, he distracts us with that other staple of the T&A film, goofballs and buffoons. In this case, perennial 70's prat-faller Chuck McCann is on hand to rob diamonds and mug for the camera for really no other reason than to provide a few yucks between all the hip-wiggling. Pintoff also may have had his pulse on the crazy music the kids were into. This point depends entirely on whether you can handle the plastic-fantastic new wave pop of Missing Persons, since MP front-blonde Dale Bozzio is not only a featured player in the cast, but she performs one of their songs, Mental Hopscotch, no less than three times during Lunch Wagon's running time. All this, plus Louisa Moritz, Eight is Enough dad Dick Van Patten, and a banana cream pie fight. Clearly, we are in for a good time tonight.

Shannon (Playboy Playmate and Motel Hell star Rosanne Katon) and Marcy (Pamela Jean Bryant, Private Lessons) both work at Andy's Garage. They're lube job girls, so you can just imagine the endless possibilities for comedy there. Their pervy boss Andy (George Memmoli, RIP) is one of the fattest men I've ever seen in a film. As Lunch Wagon opens, he docks the girls' pay for being six minutes late, and then spies on them as they change into their uniforms.

He's sort of a dick, this Andy. Their only respite from being hit on by obnoxious customers or getting goosed by the boss is when cheery sandwich-pusher Dick Van Patten shows up to offer a cheap meal and fatherly advice. Fate intervenes when Dick's wealthy aunt dies and leaves him a bunch of dough. Giddy and feeling generous, he hands over the keys to the Lunch Wagon to his young friends and sails off to the sunset.

The girls noisily quit Andy's and strike out on their own as the new Lunch Wagon girls in town. Only problem is, neither of them can cook. Luckily, they know someone who can: Deidre (Candy Moore), a blonde body-builder/health food nut. She takes the job, but only on the condition that they serve gross organic food, like soy burgers.
"Hey man, everybody knows hotdogs are a bad scene," she says.

Clearly, this will be a hard sell, especially to construction workers, so they need a hook to pull this off. Conveniently, they're all sitting on the greatest hooks possible. They buy even shorter shorts, and get to work. Cue the 80's fix-up-the-wagon montage to yet another rendition of Mental Hopscotch.

Oh yeah, I should mention that Dale Bozzio plays a rocker chick (what else?) named Teddy. Her band, Teddy and the Ruff Riders (AKA Missing Persons incognito), are playing a local club during an amateur night contest. Winner gets $200.

Michael Mislove
plays Danny Death, the club's emcee. Sometimes he wears a dress. He says stuff like: "Anybody got any cocaine? Baby laxative? Talcum powder?" Whenever there's a lull in the story, we end up back in the club to watch another amateur act, stuff like a chubby, semi-retarded older woman fitfully twirling a baton, or a two-headed acapella act called "Mister and Master Bate".

Also in the mix is McCann's flamboyant gem thief The Turtle and his bungling cohort Ralph (Vic Dunlop, one of the many fat-dudes-with-mustaches that littered drive-in movies in the 70's and 80's). They have nothing to do with anybody else, but they skulk around looking for a score nonetheless.

There's a bad guy, too. Al (Rick Podell) is a low-level schemer with a plan to...actually, I never really understood his plan, although I know it had something to do with the girls' wagon. He owns his own wagon, too. It might have been a territory issue, who knows. The important thing to know is that his girlfriend, Sunshine, is portrayed by Cuban cutie Louisa Moritz, one of the all-time greatest jiggle-girls. Sunshine likes two things: eating and fucking. At one point, after a particularly trying day of evil-doing, Al comes home in the mood for fun.
"Let's celebrate, sugar," he says to Sunshine. "You want food or sex?"
"Both," she says. And then she peels off her sheer nightie. She is an awesome girlfriend.

As I mentioned before, Lunch Wagon gets it right, man. Moritz is almost always in some state of undress. All the girls are, really. In every scene where the three leads are not actually in the wagon, they are usually lounging around in their apartment, and they are almost always in the underwear. Deidre pumps iron or exercises suggestively a lot as well, usually in bikini. It's pretty majestic.

And so, the story. The girls start their first day at a construction site. They wear hotpants and sell health food. With all the jiggling, nobody notices, and business is good. Deidre even has a chin-up bar attached to the wagon, so dudes can watch her work out while they eat. Al's wagon is run by an unpleasant woman named Bertha (Peggy Mannix), who picks a fight with her new rivals. Things quickly escalate and everybody ends up in a banana cream pie fight. Who knows where the pies came from? They just seem to appear out of nowhere in these movies. The pie fight ups the ante in the Lunch Wagon wars, so Al has his flunkies sabotage the girls' truck.

Meanwhile, the Turtle and fatso steal a diamond, but they accidentally drop it in a garbage truck. So that's going on.

It's going to cost the girls $250 to fix the wagon, money they do not have. What to do?
Well, first, they try the amateur night at the club. Marcy and Shannon do a cornball stand-up act. It does not go well. Then Deiidre comes on in a bikini and powerlifts 200 lbs. That, everybody likes.
"If anybody find a pink round thing on the floor," says Danny Death, " it's one of my nuts."
Unfortunately, the woman with the baton wins. And then Deidre punches Dale Bozzio out.

Somehow or another, the girls get the money and fix the wagon. Also, Chuck McCann and his toadie go to the garbage dump to find the diamond. Miraculously, they do. On their way of town, they get paranoid that the cops are following them, so they pull into a construction site. They spot the lunch wagon and try to get some grub but the cops show up and arrest 'em for unpaid traffic tickets, but not before Turtle stashes his diamond. And then creaky 70's comic Rose Marie shows up as Al's mom.

She barges into his house and spies Moritz scarfing down bananas.
"Who are you?" She asks.
"My name is Sunshine."
"You must be very bright," she deadpans.
Rose Marie steals the girls' wagon. The Turtle gets out of jail and goes looking for the wagon. All kinds of crazy hijinks ensue.

In summation: A classic. Unfortunately Ernie Pintoff is dead, otherwise I'd look him up and hug the dude. Boners will most certainly be popped.
Availability: Lunch Wagon is available on VHS.

Clip: Lunch Wagon trailer

-Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. You can buy this on dvd-r at super strange video dot com..


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts with Thumbnails