Friday, September 25, 2009

Hardbodies 2 (1986)

Directed by Mark Griffiths
Starring Brad Zutaut, James Karen, Brenda Bakke, Fabiana Udenio
Rated R

"What if they cut off his ears? How will he wear his sunglasses?"

Sadly, there is no commentary track with Anchor Bay's recent DVD release of Hardbodies 2, which leaves us to speculate about how and why it was made. Mark Girffiths scored a surprise hit with the original Hardbodies (1984), so a sequel was a no a brainer, but H2 bares no resemblance to the original and shares almost none of its cast, save for a (very) incidental appearance from Roberta Collins (RIP) as Lana and Sorrells Pickard as some sort of Bizarro world version of the original film's creaky cowboy Ashby. Since Griffiths also wrote the film, it would appear that the whole affair may have been a handy excuse to party in Greece for a few weeks. Certainly, the seemingly endless (and admittedly gorgeous) opening shots of sparkling Greek beaches look as much like a vacation video as they do a movie intro. On the other hand, Griffiths takes every opportunity to make Greece look like a third-world county full of crooked, villainous cops and shithole hotels. So who knows what he was up to. All I know for sure is that Teal Roberts and Courtney Gains are nowhere to be found, and the milksop actors-playing-actors he's replaced them with are nowhere near as engaging.

But what the hell, we bought a ticket. Might as well ride the ride.

James Karen (Return of the Living Dead) is Logan, a softcore porn director shooting a fil, called Foreign Affairs in Greece. He's got a Greek crew and American actors, and nothing seems to be going right. There are scenes within scenes involving mile high club hijinks and chainsawed surfboards, but it's never clear which parts are actually happening, and which parts are just scenes in the film.

Muddying the waters further, the lead actor is "Scotty Palmer" - the scheming surfer from the original - although he is played here by a completely different actor (Brad Zutaut, Pretty Smart), and he doesn't seem to bear any relation to the original guy. So why the same name? Likewise, his best friend here is his co-star named, as in the original, Rags. Instead of Courtney Gains, here we get hipster goofball Sam Temeles. As far as Scotty's love interest goes, instead of Teal Robert's stick-in-the-mud Kristi, we get another stick-in-the-mud entirely - a money hungry fiancé Morgan ( breathless blonde beauty Brenda Bakke).

So that's what's happening in the real world. In the movie, Scotty and Rags mix up their suitcase with the son of billionaire. They end up with wads of cash and a free "Semester at Sea" cruise on ship where clothes are both optional and discouraged.

As if it explains everything, Griffiths shoehorns Ashby in as the captain of the ship, and real estate mogul Lana as his girlfriend/investment partner. Ashby greets his ol' pal Scotty, and they reminisce about old times for 30 seconds. See? Is that 'sequel' enough for you, man?

Back in the real world, the Logan and the crew audition a motley crew of dog-faced non-actors for the role of the "Princess" in whatever godawful film it is they're making. They come up empty, but later on, as they eat lunch at an outdoor café, Scotty is struck numb by the simple beauty of their waitress, Cleopatra (Argentinean actress Fabiana Udenio). She has no interest in acting, but Logan offers her a wad of cash and she takes the role.

So then there's more bullshit on the cruise ship.

Back in reality, things aren't going so well with Morgan and Scotty. She denies him sex, preferring soapy soaks in the tub. Frustrated, Scotty starts to develop an interest in his exotic new costar.

Various non-events occur, including a good ten-minute build-up to Roberta Collins falling into a pit of mud. I'm not sure it was worth all the effort.

Movies and reality get all mixed up in the screwball finale when Logan hires a local to play Princess's kidnapper, and he takes the role a bit too seriously.

Will Cleo and Scotty escape and make it back to the set to shoot their love scene? And will their filmic romance bloom into real-life romance?

Yeah, sure. But you probably won't care.

Hardbodies 2, unlike its spunky predecessor, is a long and thankless slog. Unfocused and often confusing, it sometimes seems like they're making it up as they go along, ala Joe Dante's anarchic film-set spoof Hollywood Boulevard (1976), only without the punk rock energy or improv comic timing. Every joke falls flat and there are long stretches of not-much to wade through, but there is a few bright spots. For one, Griffiths does deliver, as he did in the first Hardbodies, in a copious amount of naked boobage. You got to give it to the man, he does not skimp on the mams. The film is also graced with two very fetching leading ladies in Bakke and Udenio. Both are striking beauties, and they almost make this worth the effort. Almost.

But hey, the good news it, Anchor Bay bundled it with the original Hardbodies, so it's not like you've got to shell out extra dough for it. What do you want for free?

and Udenio, by the way, are both still quite active. Both actresses have had successful careers as TV characters actors. Bakke was most recently on Joss Whedon's sci-fi series Dollhouse, and Udenio is a semi-regular on the revamped 90210. And they are both as lovely as ever.

Here's Fabiana taking a hot tub with Austin Powers.

- Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. My local video store up the street didn't have the first Hardbodies, but they did get this pathetic sequel as soon as it came out. Me and my junior high buds coughed up a buck-fifty to rent it. It bored me shitless.

    But what I didn't know was... James Karen was in this?! Oh man! I just watched ROTLD Part 2 to see if it sucked as bad as I remembered. (It did.) I really felt bad for the guy. He spends nearly the entire movie running around, waving his arms, screaming hysterically, hoping it will somehow translate to "funny". (It doesn't.)

    And guess who wrote and directed the movie? Ken Weiderhorn - the King Frat guy! No wonder it sucked!


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