Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reynolds Rap!

Cloud 9  (Graymark Productions, 2006)

    This is a fun and frothy throwback to the R rated comedies that were so popular on home video and cable back in the 80’s. It’s a tried and true formula too: the smooth talking huckster who hits on a great money making scheme playing off two thing men love: sexy young women wearing next to nothing, and sports. But this one comes out of the gate with a big lead – because this smooth talking huckster is played by Burt Reynolds!

Burt and his balls.

    Billy Cole (Reynolds) has always almost been the Next Big Thing; but has never achieved that one big payoff in any of his schemes. He’s a pretty good hearted shlub, though, with an adopted son (D. L. Hughley) he raised as his own, and a pretty good life scamming stuff off the celebrities who live near his rusted out trailer on Malibu Beach. He keeps a little money rolling in working for Wong (Paul Rodriguez) – the Fu Manchu of landscaping poorly hiding the secret that he’s really Juan, the Pancho Villa of gardening.

Burt's always had appeal. Now he has a peal. D.L. is bemused.

One fateful morning, while visiting his bookie at the local strip club, Billy hits upon his newest scheme when he sees one of the club’s dancers aping the movements of a female volleyball star on TV: hire the young women from the club to actually form a team, bringing their sexy clothing sense and voluptous bodies to the beach, selling the sizzle of their appearance, but not the steak of their sporting talent, which is nil. Along with his “assistant” Jackson, Billy recruits four of the club’s dancers: Crystal, Champagne, Olga, and Corazon.

They make a big splash at their first appearance, and none of the guys watching care that they don’t play well. The money starts rolling in, but the girls actually start caring about the game, and want to stop the side appearances at bachelor parties and beach bashes so they can train to actually play. This puts a strain on the whole scheme as Billy is strictly in it for the money. Can the self absorbed Billy learn the error of his ways and lead his team to a victory against former Olympic volleyball champ Christina Hanson (Reece) and her skilled team?

I really had a good time with this movie. First and foremost, Burt is really committed here, and seems to be having a good time playing this character, something that hasn’t been the case with some of his recent appearances. It really does seem like an 80’s T+A beach opus, opening with Burt scamming some pool time (and a robe) from an of course unseen Barbra Streisand before taking his morning constitutional back to his rusty trailer down on the beach as a great cheesy pop song plays over the credits. The cast is fun, with Hughley and Reynolds showing some effortless charisma in their scenes, and everyone else bringing something good to the table. The script has some funny lines scattered throughout, and the direction by Harry Basil showcases the beauty of the beach locations and the young women with verve and panache. There’s a refreshing lack of PC here as well – another echo of those older movies – in Paul Rodriguez’s turn as Wong (“if you’re Mexican you’re a gardener; if you’re Asian you’re a landscaper!”) The women are gorgeous – and of course it goes without saying that LGOOH Ultra Fave Katheryn Winnick was the winner on this count – although her accent is variable at best, wavering at times to British and Italian while seldom landing on Russian. But mute the movie if you want while she’s onscreen – you’ll still get all the effect you need.

The movie isn’t perfect; for such a purposely tacky movie the nudity is sparse, just a few quick flashes from some of the extras, and none from any of our lead ladies; and there are a couple of slow spots in the movie before a bright (if entirely expected) wrapup during the championship volleyball tournament. But you do get Burt doing all of his own stunts in his 1,000,006th screen fight; and cameos from Tony Danza, Tom Arnold, Bruce Bruce, Jeff Altman, Brett Hudson (one of the Hudson Brothers, and one of the film’s producers) and best of all GARY BUSEY; so, if you want to put your brain in neutral and just enjoy something that will make you feel like you’re watching Showtime circa 1984, here’s a movie you’ll definitely want to check out!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

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