Sunday, November 14, 2010

THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE (1990) - buy a ticket, roll your dice, take a ride, and just be happy you're out of the house

Quick, dear reader: Which one of these men aren't properly respected? Answer: both, although Rodney managed to turn it into a virtue.

Humor can do oh so much more than merely entertain bored schmucks. It also helps to shine a light on our human differences, allowing us to laugh at them, instead of these differences driving us apart, harvesting anger and fear. One such humorist that fits this ideal is Andrew "Dice" Clay, and I feel the need to illuminate his comedic art, for fear he may be lost to history. Some of my favorite bits of his include (say them out loud using your best Diceman impersonation for best results):

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Why is this faggot sitting on a wall? Because he's a homo, OH!"

"I was with this broad, and she started complaining, 'Dice...GUHGUHGUHGUHGUHGUHGUH', and I told her 'if my balls were in your mouth like they should be, I wouldn't have to listen to you complain. I've got two of them. They're both fucking phenomenal...OH!"

And, of course, my personal favorite "Anne Frank...I fucked her! GUHGUHGUHGUHGUHGUH...OH!"

While many may view Clay's humor as passe, a collection of neanderthal tirades against women, gays and minorities that remains a relic of a less politically correct past, I think these people are missing the point. Clay has the BALLS (two of them, as he previously explained) to voice the more base attitudes that lurk within the male psyche (like a fear of strong women and/or anthropomorphic eggs) and present them in a humorous context so that the audience may laugh at them from a distance while getting closer to the truth (that last bit is one of the many smarty pants zen thingies I'm famous for). It's unfortunate that he seems a bit lost to history, but if he returns in a big bad way, don't call it a comeback. He's been at the top of his game for years. You've just been asleep at the wheel buddy boy. As I've always said, bet against the Diceman and you'll roll snake eyes. Yes, I'm a master of puns. You're welcome.

I'm blastin', outlastin', kimda like Shaft, so you could say I'm shaftin'. Brilliant...and he can act! (well...recite dialogue)

Regardless, we can still go back in time via the magic technology known as VHS and/or DVD (for the high falluters), re-entering a point in history when throwing heaps and piles of money into star vehicles for Andrew "Dice" Clay seemed like a brilliant idea. I could've dissected Brainsmasher: A Love Story, Albert Pyun's mostly unheralded action comedy that is exclusively about Clay beating up ninjas for the hand of Teri Hatcher (I don't quite follow the logistics of how that works, but if it nets you Teri, why ask why). Instead, I will tackle The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, which is not only the definitive entry in the Dice-sploitation genre, but also fits snuggly into the late eighties/early nineties mini-genre of overblown and overdumb camp detective/cop movies (Last Boy Scout and Tango and Cash come to mind). Fairlane takes this shopworn base and aims for transcendent L.A. vapidity with all of it's might, separating itself from those in the genre who merely aim for big budget, high concept stupidity.

Well, the "plot" concerns a rock n' roll detective named Ford Fairlane who is hired to solve the murder of the lead singer (Vince Neil) of "Black Plague" (a band that uncoincidently sounds exactly like early nineties Motley Crue). This sets up a convoluted investigation that takes Dice all over Hollywood, bumping into an oddball onslaught of characters, including Morris Day (of "The Time", of course), Sheila E., David Patrick Kelly, Kari Wuhrer, Ed O'Neil, Robert Englund, Josie and the Pussycats (?, and featuring Pamela Adlon), and Tone Loc (for street cred, of course). Priscilla Presley also shows up, seemingly reprising her role from The Naked Gun, but played "straight" (if humor isn't your bag). Oh yeah, Dice's arch nemesis, an evil record company suit, is played by, yes, Wayne Newton. That fucking Las Vegas stench has spread to Hollywood somehow. Thankfully, good does conquer evil (or pompadour vs. plugs, if you prefer) when Dice throws a milkshake in Wayne's face and sets him on fire. Whatever gets the job done, as I usually proclaim when forced to pontificate in reductive sound bites. Most curious to me is comic genius Gilbert Gottfried's role as a shock jock modeled after Howard Stern. Ironically, Gilbert got to be well known from his many appearances on Howard's show, including crucial early bookings where he impersonated, you guessed it, Andrew "Dice " Clay. Whoever said that life is one big cycle and that everything is connected is really really smart. Like fortune cookie smart (minus the MSG, of course).

In the end, the "investigation" is a bullshit clothesline for some pure Diceman antics, as true a star vehicle as Hollywood has ever concocted. The movie is not really about an investigation, nor a fable of how the sands of justice quickly sift through the pork greased fingers of the law, nor even the music industry's propensity to value commerce over music (this last one seems to be an actual point that the filmmakers wish to convey, cutely determined as they are to point out the obvious). No, it's about one Andrew fucking Clay Silverstein (I added the "fucking" part for emotional effect; the Silverstein bit is his actual last name, and not a sly dig at Jewish masculinity). He's a true rebel, pissing squarely in the face of any and all rules of decorum (the biggest one being, ironically, don't urinate on your superiors), as evidenced by his opening monologue: "I wish the music industry and the rest of the globe would suck my dick...Tracy". This is essentially as deep as the character development descends, but when the audience is forced to step in such a shallow hole right off the bat, it doesn't bode well for this hoary path laid forth by the screenwriter(s) (probably seven hacks circled around a table, buried up to their noses in cocaine). Again, the script is not about humor, nor drama, nor even a send up of detective movie cliches. Alas, it is about vapidity, and only of the type that seeps across the smog of greater Los Angeles, assuming greatness is measured in light and motion and form. Luckily, they found one of the very few earthlings that can illicit laughs and "balls out" early nineties entertainment via a specific strain of rebellious causation under such suffocating constraints (i.e. dialogue that is funny to hacks who happen to be balls deep in nose candy). I have taken the time to compile the "funniest" lines from the film, showcasing our hero as he turns dialogue straw into cinematic gold (or solid copper at the very least).

Since this cinematic "artpiece" is completely devoid of any "content" (assuming the literary mode of classical film criticism) , we can focus on motherfucking STYLE, paying special attention to Dice's impeccable timing and physical gesturing. Despite what the meatheads may conclude (word of advice: ignore all meatheads, unless you are extrapolating humor from an ironic base), Clay's comedy lies not in the punchline, but in his aggro-male confidence during delivery. He's the cock of the walk, and to such an absurd degree that the humor explodes forth in the form of the audience tripping over a fake cock while walking in front of him whilst cursing the crotch gods (metaphorically speaking, as it were). Look no further than the scene wear Dice busts into an impromptu rockabilly number that is frankly shitty beyond belief. As if he didn't already think highly of himself, he exalts in pop ecstasy "hey look at me, I'M FUCKING ELVIS!". It's all a cock blasting posture meant to expose the masculine mind, so that scholars, while dusting off documents of popular culture while sifting through the ruins of the apocalypse, can finally, against all odds, become attuned to the obvious, all to the tune of a song and dance so wretched that it cannot possibly pose as any sort of distraction from the anthropological merits within. If you're not buying what I'm selling (and most of us are, after all, salesmen, in one way or another), jump forward to the scene where Dice heads back to his beachfront house after it was ransacked by a couple of Wayne Newton cronies (the worst kind, folliclally and otherwise). He finds his puppet koala lynched, and explosions and asses and whatever ensues for the last half hour or so, where the rubber meets the proverbial road, crashing through plot roadblocks to hit a stretch of pure cinematic highway (still totally dumb, but...whatever yo). Say what you will, but the sorority house scene is cinema in it's purest form, assuming you equate purity to the movement and form of the female body (i.e. you're a dude with loin-based taste). As a quick aside...god bless the Greeks. Sorority houses? Just fucking brilliant.

Laugh as they will, but many a historian seek to document faithfully while missing the obvious with equal aplomb. Yes, the Diceman postured his way into the American consciousness, but his current act, a post-modern screed where he complains about being a Jewish dinosaur who was once too cool for school until the school passed him by. Yes, mere posture is rendered irrelevant when run through the great equalizer that is time, but, alas, anti-posture slyly sits in the shadows, impervious to the general eye, always ready to pounce should acute eyes of pop culture rubble get off their high horses and get real.

No comments:

Post a Comment