Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Skyscraper (1996)

Directed by Raymond Martino
Starring Anna Nicole Smith and her ridiculous breasts
Rated R
USA

"Well, excuse me for still believing in Sunday walks in the park and little babies!"

An out-of-shape and constantly befuddled Anna Nicole Smith "stars" as helicopter pilot Carrie Wisk. Carrie's got a pretty plum gig - shuttling millionaires from one rooftop to another in Los Angeles or wherever they are - as well as a swank penthouse apartment, a sex-crazy cop husband, Gordy (TV dude Richard Steinmetz), and a propensity for child-like whining. All of these elements will collide in one fateful afternoon, when Carrie finds herself caught in the middle of a terrorist plot to...assemble several pieces of a briefcase together. Said assembled briefcase will then blow up the planet. I think that's what's supposed to happen. It was difficult to pay much attention.

First, though, Carrie has to go home, mid-morning, to take a shower. And that's what she does. Now, I think everyone - including the director - was expecting the Guess Jeans girl to show up on set.

But the Guess jeans girl was long-gone by 1996, replaced with a dazed, overweight simpleton halfway to oblivion. When she was thin and functional, Anna Nicole's boobs were already oversized, but by '96, her silicone-swollen teats were just humongous. They do not look like movie star tits. They don't even look like Playboy tits. They look like bottom-shelf gonzo porn tits. It is alarming to see porn boobs in a non-porn movie. It makes you feel like you should be watching it in the basement.

So anyway, she takes a long, lingering shower, so that you have ample time to ogle her ample breasts. And then Gordo slips in there with her, and then they continue their gross love-making in the bedroom. As soon as they're finished, Carrie starts whining about wanting a baby, and Gordon makes a hasty exit. You would, too.

Long story short, some terrorists take over a building to put the briefcase together. It's a motley assortment of vaguely foreign dudes - a black guy with a British accent who spouts Shakespeare, a long-haired Frenchman, a long-haired Fabio type guy with tits nearly as big as Anna's, some South Africans, and a German chick who, for whatever reason, happens to be cross-eyed.

Together they seal off all the exits, grab a bunch of hostages, and randomly shoot at things for the next hour or so. It's up to Anna Nicole and a Don Knotts-like security guard to thwart them.

And that's pretty much it. Oh, and mid-film, there's a flashback barnyard sex scene which allows the viewer more Anna Nicole tit-time and also looks suspiciously like an out-take from one her Penthouse videos.

Also, Anna gets raped by one of the dudes, at one point, but then she throws him out the window. In fact, several people get thrown out of the window. There are also a few massive explosions, and a scene where Anna Nicole repels down the side of the building on a cable. The stuntwoman who actually does the rope-work is about 75 pounds lighter than the woman she's doubling for.

Stuff like that goes on throughout the film - you get the feeling that everyone in the cast and crew is working doubly-hard to make up for the fact that the star of the film can't act and is too sluggish to perform anything remotely physical. It's the cinematic equivalent of pitching underhand for the slow kid in Little League.

Promoted as "Die Hard meets Barb Wire", Skyscaper might be one of the most ill-starred films of all time. Without Anna Nicole's bull-in-a-China-shop performance, it would have been merely lousy: a muddy, weirdly cast, flimsily plotted bit of basic-cable weekend fodder. But throw in the palpable ick factor of the doomed, dumbstruck, spaced-out starlet up front, and you've got one seriously queasy cinematic experience. It's not often that you can actually smell the flop sweat radiating off a film, but this one reeks of it.

Brainless and charmless - even for a 90's C-level action flick - Skyscaper probably would have slithered quietly into oblivion were it not for Nicole Smith's reality show notoriety just a few years later. Morbid curiosity will keep it afloat in perpetuity, but trash-flick fans beware: this is bad-bad, not awesome-bad.



- Ken McIntyre

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