Monday, February 2, 2009

Recruits (1986)

Directed by Rafal Zielinski
Starring Lolita Davidovich, Jon Mikl Thor, Annie McAuley
Rated R
Buy poster

"I'm not a weirdo."
"Hey buddy, I don't talk to fish."

In the bustling metropolis of Clam Cove, they come up with some stupid fucking ideas. Like instituting a civilian police squad to control city traffic. Mayor Bagley (Jason Logan), speaking at an outdoor ceremony punctuated with a lobster having sex with his doe-eyed blonde daughter (woops!), he spells out the program. Seems the governor (of what state? Where the hell are we? Clam Cove is supposed to be an American city, but everyone pronounces 'out' in that curiously Canuck way: 'oot') wants to give Clam Cove money for a new freeway, if only they improve traffic conditions. And what better way to do that than to hire loons like Canadian rock-warrior Thor to police the streets?

You know you're dealing with a high concept when you get a five-minute, exposition-stuffed monologue second scene in, and since it would take just as long to boil down, here is Clam Cove's scheming police captain Magruder (the ever-awesome Mike McDonald, Oddballs, Loose Screws), explaining his sinister plan to take over the city to his toadies, comb-over king Sargeant Stonewall (Tony Travis) and hot-but-stern Germanic bad-ass Sargeant Shicklegruber (Colleen Passard, Meatballs III):

"Listen carefully, both of you. When the governor comes to present the mayor with a big fat check for the highway, suppose something would happen to him, like an assassination attempt. An attempt, no harm would come to him, but if these civilian recruits that are supposed to be defending him are complete screwups, they'll make a mess of defending him, right? And who would be blamed if the mayor's own personal squad screwed up? That's right, the mayor. And then he'll have to resign, and someone will have to take his place. And that someone will be me. That's why we have to find the stupidest, most inept bozos in town and recruit them on to the force."

So, there you go. There's your plot. On to the mayhem.

It appears that Clam Cove is so full of misfits and freaks that finding a suitable band of bunglers and screw-ups takes about an hour. The very busy line-up includes, but is not limited to:
Steve (Stephen Osmond), the kid in lobster suit. Town mascot gone bad.
Mike (Doug Annear) and Winston (John Terrell), ice cream salesmen/cocksmen, nabbed for impersonating ambulance drivers to disrobe women on the beach.

Howie (off-putting Alan Deveau, Loose Screws), a creepy barnacle scraper, picked up for accidentally ogling a pair of pokeys while falling down a hatch.
Brazil (Tracey Tanner), a teenage hooker.
Clint (Mark Blutman, Meatballs III), a squinty-eyed weirdo who dresses, well, like Clint Eastwood.
Susan (Lolita Davidovich) who, erm...has large breasts. "Sign them up," says Magruder, when she shows up to apply for duty.
Tanya (Annie McCauley), the mayor's promiscuous daughter, and of course, Thunderhead (Thor). Self-explanatory.

Mixed in with the expected Police Academy rip-off gags (they shoot each other during target practice, haha) are some pretty inventive set-pieces. Mike and the Tanya sneak off to have sex in an empty police car. As they get into it, they accidentally switch on the intercom and put the car intro neutral, causing it to roll down a hill and cruise slowly through town, where they inadvertently thwart crimes by confusing would-be criminals with their sex-talk, i.e. "Take your pants off! Put on those handcuffs!" etc. There's also some impressive, Knievel-esque motorcycle stunts during their training sessions.

Eventually, the goofy recruits get to go on (supervised) patrol for the first time. It's sorta shaky, at first:
"Steve, you can't kill a jaywalker."
"I wasn't trying to kill him, I was just trying to shoot some warning shots into his legs."

Miraculously, they manage to get through the day without murdering anyone, so they're given a night off as a reward. It's a pretty eventful night. Shicklegruber strips down to lingerie and fucks the creepy kid, who shoots off his gun during sex, nearly killing them both. Mike and Winston go to a cowboy bar, where Winston attempts to replicate Eddie Murphy's 'Black Russian' bit from 48 Hours. Not surprisingly, they both get beat to a pulp. Steve and Susan try to have a romantic evening together, but get kidnapped by a biker gang, who drag them to a diner and talk about what they plan on doing with them:
"Boss, you said we could cut off their arms and drag them through a pit of tarantulas!"
Luckily Clint shows up at the last minute, wearing a High Plains Drifter poncho, and shoots the assholes.

By the way, I just want to mention that Lolita Davidovich in a bra trumps most women topless. I'm not sure how she ended up in her bra for this scene, but I am quite glad that it happened.

Anyway, Magruder correctly accesses that the recruits are dangers to themselves and others, so he sends them out on unsupervised patrol. They proceed to destroy half of Clam Cove. Sargeant Stonewall is, as expected, appalled.
"I hope you all get diseases," he tells them.
But the plan must continue, so they're all given guns and instructions on escorting the governor into Clam Cove the following day.

Steve and Susan's job is to pick up the governor at the airport, but his flight is delayed, so they spend the extra hour fucking in the back seat. When he shows up, they have no time to get dressed, so they drive him in naked, affording us the opportunity to ogle Davidovich's Canadian hams in all their perky glory. Meanwhile Stonewall and Magruder are on some roof somewhere with a cannon. They blow up the podium, sending the crowd into a panic. The citizens of Clam Cover run amuck, screaming and carrying on.

And the governor's wife (dramatically named Penthouse Pet Dominique St. Croix) loses her shirt.

His evil plan has come to fruition, so the next day, Magruder fires the recruits. And then he has a beach party with the entire police force. I can't believe they managed to crowbar a beach party into this. Turns out the lobsters they gobble up around the bonfire are contaminated, and all the cops in town end up in the hospital. As a result, the city has fallen into chaos. Looters, marauders and maniac bikers run wild in the streets. Only one thing to do...hire the recruits back. Can this ragtag gang of numbskulls successfully police Clam Cove and dig up enough evidence to put away Magruder while they're at it?

I imagine they'll give it their best shot.

Released just after Police Academy mania swept the nation, Recruits is actually funnier than the film it's clearly aping. The cast and crew represent the cream of the Canadian T&A crop, and the inclusion of amiable strongman Thor adds a fittingly surreal edge to the proceedings. It's also extremely generous in the toplessness department, and Lolita Davidovich is clearly one of the best looking women to ever grace this dumb genre. Guaranteed to put a big, dopey grin on your face, this dusty little gem is bit hard to find, but well worth the digging.

Availability: Recruits is available on VHS.

-Ken McIntyre

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