The Whoopee Boys:
My usual note-taking while watching movies-to-review was totally derailed by The Whoopee Boys, a 1986 also-ran that's as good as the title implies. I'd love to go the gonzo route and just copy my notes verbatim. In fact, I will: "cast of almost-knowns, dildo 2 quail."
That's it. Obviously it's not enough for a review, but it almost does justice for this Paul Rodriguez vehicle, which is nothing more than a very loose, clichéd framework on which to hang Rodriguez's intermittently funny, ultimately repetitive humor. In other words, despite a smattering of hilarious bits here and there, The Whoopee Boys generally deserves its lost and unknown status.
Jake (Michael O'Keefe of Caddyshack fame) and Barney (Rodriguez, maybe best known for the TV show a.k.a. Pablo) are thrown together as their two inexplicable careers as street hustlers fall apart. Quickly hijacking a Cadillac, they wind up in Florida at a swanky party, during which Jake falls in love. This is in the first ten minutes, with so much back-story, motivation and internal logic missing it's almost like we've walked in on the middle of some other movie. This whack-job, devil-may-care attitude also gives these opening scenes a zing that only shows up occasionally thereafter. Things start sliding downhill when Jake learns his new lady-love isn't exactly a carefree heiress, but a woman with a heart of gold who runs an orphanage threatened by - you guessed it - an evil developer.
Neither you, I, nor the neighbor's dog cares for evil developers any more, (not even in 1986) and frankly we're not really given to care whether Jake gets the girl. The Whoopee raison d'etre is for a bunch of 'fish out of water' comedy as Rodriguez freaks out the rich squares, and not even a stint at a bizarre charm school can help that, although it does provide an additional cast of caricatures (including Marsha Warfield as a gruff cop) ripe for employment in Revenge of the Nerds-style stupid comeuppance.
Rodriguez nails a few bits, and an air of rudderless insanity helps matters, but there's too much mileage between the best jokes, (most of which are at the beginning) and when Rodriguez starts recycling material you begin wondering where the other writers are. Decent amounts of time are spent being politically incorrect, with all the racist, sexist and homophobic humor this implies, and it all must have seemed very shocking when the film was released, but by now a lot of it just seems lazy and tired. Genial goofiness is electrified, say, when Barney violates a roast quail with a carrot - an example of non-PC humor that works crudely and well - but cranking out the same routine later with a duck and banana is the surest way to say 'we're no longer trying.'
With such a thin, clichéd plot and wholly unnecessary (and uninteresting) romance, it's up to Rodriguez and crew to shoulder the load. Sadly, they've not enough A-game material to last more than an hour, and ultimately The Whoopee Boys, for all their chaotic, affable nastiness, outstay their welcome.
The Boys make it to your screen in 1.78:1 widescreen ratio, with minor but noticeable film damage cropping up here and there throughout. The picture is a bit soft, gauzy and pastel in a Miami Vice sort of way, but it's unclear if this is stylistically intentional, due to a merely adequate mastering job, or some combination of both. Skin tones are a bit sickly and other colors a mite washed out, while nighttime scenes suffer from background graininess. Compression problems aren't readily apparent, however, or are masked by the softness of either the print or transfer.
Digital Stereo Audio is well-done, with plenty of bad '80s pop songs showing up clearly but not too loud during many music video montage sequences. The Dialog track is generally strong and at a decent level, so as not to compete with or be swallowed up by the soundtrack. However, like video aspects, the audio track doesn't have a ton of zing, either.
Paramount's new imprint Legend Films - dedicated to bringing underserved films to light once again - actually throws a pair of Whoopee Boys Trailers on the disc as extras this time. (All the other Legend discs I've seen have been bare.) Of course Chapter Stops and Closed Captioning also make an appearance.
This under-plotted comedy vehicle, in which shlubs Jake and Barney decide to randomly shake up high society in Florida, suffers from a shortage of outrageous material. Comedian Paul Rodriguez hits a few homers but seems to be coasting on 'shock' fumes much of the time, while Jake's romance plotline is just uninteresting. When Rodriguez starts doing the same bits over, you know it's time to find another comedy. Nonetheless, there's enough random goodness and irrationality here to entertain indiscriminate viewers with plenty of beer, if they pair this with something like Doug and Bob McKenzie's Strange Brew, perhaps, but on that note, it's best to just Rent It.
- Kurt Dahlke
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