Leonard Part 6
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG // $19.94 // April 26, 2005
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted May 3, 2005
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The Movie

Just like you can never truly experience the pain of childbirth without actually going through it yourself, you simply cannot acknowledge the true and astonishing awfulness of Leonard Part 6 without sitting down and really watching it for 80 minutes.

There are several "monumentally reviled" films, but dare I say that this hilariously inept Bill Cosby vehicle leaves them in the dust. Ishtar? Please, that's Citizen Kane compared to this flick. Howard the Duck? Child's play. Leonard Part 6 makes Howard the Duck look like Howard's End and makes Battlefield Earth look like a Kubrick. And it's not just that Leonard Part 6 is howlingly stupid, aggressively unfunny, and downright embarrassing to watch ... it's also swollen to bursting (not unlike a really ripe pimple) with non-stop product placement of the most shameless order.

Apparently the plot (and my apologies to the word "plot") has something to do with an aging superspy who interrupts his retirement to thwart an evil vegetarian witch who plans to overtake the world via dishwashing liquid and a collection of barnyard animals. (And I'm only going to say this once, people: I'm making none of this up.)

With the help of his ever-narrating butler and a babbling gypsy in the Carol Kane vein, Leonard (Bill Cosby) must use all available weapons to dispose of the evil fruit-addicted shrew and her gang of muscle-bound leaf-eaters. And by "weapons," what I really mean is Palmolive, armpit rockets (don't even ask), Alka Seltzer, a stick of butter, a pair of ballet slippers, a pocketful of frozen meat patties...

I give up. Trying to cobble the outright retardedness of Leonard Part 6 into something resembling a traditional plot synopsis is like trying to explain ancient Babylonian algebra to a particularly stupid sea slug. Quite frankly, the movie makes no sense whatsoever. And that's not in a "poor editing, confusing screenplay, clueless director" sort of criticism. I mean the movie feels like it was written accidentally by a three-year-old who's banging away on a Speak & Spell. The jokes travel from horrifically obvious to outrageously stupid, stopping frequently at the Bill Cosby Mug-Fest Rest Stop, which is where you can see one of the world's most celebrated comedians do absolutely everything in his power to make you hate him.

You'll cringe at the acid-trip-insane dance sequence between Cosby and a bunch of half-naked birdmen assassins. You'll stare slackjawed at the sequence involving homicidal bullfrogs. You'll be reaching for some prescription painkillers during the meat-fight-and-ostrich finale. And you'll be using the DVD as an ashtray once it's all over.

Bill Cosby hates this movie. Truth. Just prior to its release, he actually did the talk show circuit and told anyone who'd listen that Leonard Part 6 was a steaming pile of dung. He'd be quick to lay the blame on studio interference and a neophyte director, but The Coz actually wrote the story himself and acted as an executive producer on the movie - so I say the blame for this misshapen abortion of a vanity project lays directly in the lap of Mr. Cosby. And I don't mean "abortion" in a grossly euphemistic way; I mean the movie looks like it was edited together in random order, with a blender, in the dark, by a moose. (Which goes a little way towards explaining why that damn butler chimes in with his narration nonsense every 4.5 minutes.) Rumor has it that Cosby actually bought back the rights to the film a few years after its (brief) theatrical run, which is why you never really saw it play on cable that often. Why he would now choose to have Leonard Part 6 released on DVD is anyone's guess, but only if your guess would be "...money?"

Fans of truly atrocious cinema should run, not jog, to their nearest DVD shoppe and plunk down the $4.59 they're inevitably asking for this movie. Not only is Leonard Part 6 truly one of the worst movies you'll ever see, but check out some of the names involved: shot by Jan de Bont (before he graduated to Director and graced the universe with Speed 2: Cruise Control), scored by Elmer Bernstein (a legendarily fantastic composer who must have been just a wee bit strapped for cash back in '87), co-starring the late, great Gloria (Neo's Oracle) Foster as the rabid and perpetually fruit-chomping villainess and the ever-sweaty Joe Don Baker (yes, Mitchell himself) as a CIA agent who contributes literally nothing to the plot.

I bet the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang would have paid up to a million dollars to skewer this movie. Yes, it's that kind of bad. But before you get all affectionate and excited for a movie this quaintly and entirely inept, please do understand that Leonard Part 6 is easily one of the most shameless whore-movies I've ever seen. From the omnipresent Coke bottles (positioned oh-so-subtly so that you can always see the label) to the huge pointless mound of LAVA soap bars to the "Alka-Seltzer saves the day!" finale ... it's just really nasty is what it is. Leonard Part 6 makes the marketing schemes of Men in Black 2 look positively subtle, and let's face it: Men in Black 2 was a 90-minute television commercial.

Summing up: Leonard Part 6. It's as bad as you've heard and easily much worse. The movie stands as a huge glowing shrine to the worst sort of filmmaking under the sun, a screaming beacon to the unstoppable ego of Bill Cosby, and a cinematic "Kick Me!" sign of the most absurd order. If you really do enjoy watching a movie while staring at the screen, wide-eyed, frozen, stuck in a mental loop of "What were these people thinking?" - throw Leonard Part 6 into your Netflix queue.

But, under no circumstances whatsoever, should you, in any way, mistake the above statement for anything even remotely resembling a recommendation. Seriously. Movies this bad should be handled with Teflon gloves and a pair of tongs.

The DVD

Video: Widescreen Anamorphic, which is normally good news indeed. But in this case, A) the transfer is soft and runny and blotchy, B) a pan & scan transfer would actually force you to see less of the movie, which, in this case, might not be such a bad thing.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0. I heard the whole movie quite clearly. Thanks for that.

Extras: A promo trailer for the DVD releases of Good Times, What's Happening?, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons. Theatrical trailers for Are We There Yet? and Daddy Day Care. That's it. Frankly I'd have paid 50 bucks for a Bill Cosby audio commentary, but apparently The Coz doesn't need the income that badly.

Final Thoughts

After suffering through this raving diatribe, you might find it hard to believe that I'm actually a big fan of Bill Cosby. He did some darn fine movies back in the 70s, he gave the world Fat Albert and The Cosby Show, and his early comedy albums rank among my all-time favorites. But that's not the Bill Cosby you'll find in Leonard Part 6; here he's a preening and clueless egotist trying desperately to wedge himself into a genre that just doesn't want him. The way this movie fails so amazingly and consistently ... you'd swear it had to be done intentionally. But it wasn't. Dear lord, it wasn't.



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