I have some very vague recollections of seeing Zane Buzby's Last Resort on cable TV back in the late 80s, and if you'd have asked me yesterday, I'd have said "it's pretty bad, but Charles Grodin is pretty funny in it." But then I sat down to watch it again.
Now, before you think I'm insane, think back. There was a time when Charles Grodin could deliver some fantastic straight-man/slow-burn schtick like it was nobody's business. Think, say, Seems Like Old Times or (even better) Midnight Run. If "deadpan" is your favorite type of comedy, then I bet you have a few Charles Grodin movies in your DVD collection.
But back to Last Resort, which is just about the chintziest, cheapest, and tackiest rip-off of National Lampoon's Vacation that you're ever likely to come across. The opening credits reveal Julie Corman as the producer, which means that Last Resort was probably some sort of birthday present from Roger Corman to his beloved wife. Either way, the thing looks like it was shot in six days for seven dollars.
George Lawler (Grodin) is a middle-class nebbish, but a decent husband and a caring father. He books himself, the wife, and the three kids on a vacation at "Club Sand." And here's the punch-line: The resort is really shitty! The walls are plywood, the pipes are rusty, and most of the other (invariably sleazy) tourists are there just to get laid.
That's pretty much it. Straight-laced George whines about his surroundings, tries (and fails) to have sex with his wife, stares gape-eyed at all the slimy tourists, smokes a little weed, yells at his daughter to put her bikini top on, and whines a whole lot more. And since the whining is coming from Charles Grodin, it is (on rare occasion) just a little bit amusing. Worthy of a few offhand chuckles, but nothing approaching a half-decent belly laugh.
What's rather trivially noteworthy about Last Resort is not just that it was helmed by weird actress turned bad director Zane Buzby, but that it contains a whole lot of pretty funny people ... none of whom are actually allowed to be funny in the movie. Check out this cast of kooks:
Gerrit Graham as the untrustworthy tour leader.
John Ashton as an obnoxious boor.
Jon Lovitz as an annoying bartender who screams "what?" over and over.
Megan Mullally as a stick-thin and virginal teenage girl.
Mario Van Peebles as a half-naked mega-lisper.
Ian Abercrombie as a freaky maitre d'.
Phil Hartman as a blonde, gay, Frenchman.
...and yes, scary-lookin' Zane Buzby pops in as a day-care devil-woman. Wacky stuff.
(And one for the geeks: Simpsons producer David Mirkin as a pervert who loves to record his sexual exploits.)
Suffice to say that Last Resort is not a movie that ranks too highly on any of the aforementioned's resumés.
Video: It's a full frame transfer, and it's fairly unflattering ... not that the flick ever looked all that great.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0.
Extras: A bunch of filmographies for Roger Corman, Julie Corman, Charles Grodin, Mario Van Peebles, Phil Hartman & Jon Lovitz) and some trailers for Last Resort, Eat My Dust!, and Rock 'n' Roll High School.
Recommendable only to the most ardent Charles Grodin fans, folks who like to see really bad comedy, or family members of the cast members who are buying up 12 copies at a time and dumping them directly into the nearest dumpster.