Friday, 27 February 2015

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 59 Leonard Part 6

An international spy organization run by vegetarians, mind controlled animals, ridiculous outfits and irony that didn't become apparent until nearly 30 years after it's release. Those are but a few elements in this bodacious piece of cinema, that brings us a newcomer to this blog – a man not usually associated with action movies, if we can safely classify this as such. We probably can't, because whatever 'action' takes place is remarkably tame and laughable. The parts that are supposed to be laughable, however, are not. Oh fuck it, let's just get to it. The movie we are looking at is...

This motherfucking happened. I'm completely confounded by this actually happening. 

Leonard Part 6 (1987)

Bill Cosby, my friends. Let that concept sink in for a second. Until 2014, that name would almost exclusively conjure up images of a respectable elderly black comedian with a PhD in teaching (little known fact) who children of the 80s grew up with as the tried and tested but affably hilarious Dr. Huxtable on the Cosby Show. Of course, as most of you probably know, that image has been diminished greatly by no less than 13 counts of sexual assault by various females. I have no idea if any of that is true or not, and it doesn't really matter. However, I was amused by the weird way in which life sometimes makes things come full circle, something I'll get back to shortly. First, let us once again consider the fact, that Bill Cosby plays a suave spy, in a movie so rich in food thematics I'm not sure what to make of it. But I'll try to figure that out over the course of the next so and so paragraphs, so bear with me.

As far as I'm concerned, this is how a successful date is supposed to end.

Cosby plays Leonard (the part 6 thing isn't really explained, and I'm afraid I can wager precisely zero guesses as to it's meaning) a spy who retired because the spy business was ruining his marriage. His marriage was ruined anyway, because despite him having retired, his wife still left him. The movie hs set 7 years after that, and yet he still asks his butler daily if she called. Because if she didn't the previous 6 years, chances are good she might have in the 7th. So it's safe to say, Leonard hasn't gotten over her. The CIA wants Leonard to come back into service, because an evil vegetarian terrorist threat has risen, and as a maitre'd at a fancy restaurant Leonard is the one and only man who can handle that kind of seriousness. This premise is ludicrous at best. I shouldn't be surprised really, but the movie seems to be relatively high in production value for an 80s flick, so it's too bad they flaked on script. The vegetarians kill by mind controlling animals, mostly small rodents, and having them nibble people to death. Presumably because it's easier to handle rabbits on a movie set than lions and rhinos. At least moderately easier. It's classic vegetarianism. Those people are just hellbent on world domination.

The Oracle goes batshit and wants to take over the world. With mind controlled animals

While that whole thing is unfolding, we are treated to a subplot in which Leonard's daughter, who drifts between fads, wants to marry a producer in the theater production she is a part of, who is like 50 years her senior. It gets kind meta at this point, with some highly awkward scenes between Leonard as the concerned but aloof dad, his scantily clad daughter and a very effeminate old producer dude. Furthermore, Leonard manages to set up a date with his wife, during which she pours various types of food over his head. Both are calm and collected, and there is a weird detachment to the whole routine that I can't quite figure out what to make of. She is pissed, obviously, because he let his career ruin their marriage, but so subdued, it's hard to imagine she really gives a shit. Leonard contemplates the dilemma of taking on another mission, thus estranging his wife further, and letting the world be destroyed by evil vegetable eaters. It's a toss up. But it's settled when his wife is kidnapped. Or daughter perhaps. Would you know, I just can't remember at this point. Leonard gears the fuck up and goes after the terrorists in their hide out, which is some kind of processing factory. Hilarity doesn't ensue, but mayhem does and it concludes with Leonard riding a fucking austrich. Yes. That happened.

Why his helmet says ipso facto, I have tried for 4 weeks to figure out. 

Food is obviously a major theme here. I don't know why it's a major theme, because besides being involved in almost every scene in some form, it doesn't really play a major role, except the inherent fun in throwing or pouring food over people. Why the terrorists are vegetarians as their only defining characteristic, and what their purpose really is besides 'kill meateaters' never becomes apparent. Perhaps that's for the best, because whatever explanation they could come up with would surely take away from what little premise this movie has. Still, it strikes me as odd that you'd involve food in this degree, without at least trying to tie together the plot elements to achieve some form of coherence. It's like the first half of the movie tries to set up some kind of reason for the second part to exist, but it doesn't. Leonard and his wife end up together, and his daughter is saved. Whoop de doo. We were never invested in any of it to begin with. And the daughter/producer subplot isn't really resolved. I guess Leonard saving the world from evil food themed terrorists was enough to convince his ex-wife that he wasn't just a deadbeat secret agent.

Love knows no boundaries, but I think I understand why Leonard is disconcerted by this pimp looking dude.

Despite how thin that plot really is, surprisingly the movie kind of seems to make sense as you watch it. It's boring and clearly pointless, yet somehow things are strung together in a way where the scene transitions make somewhat sense. Granted, the bar is low compared to the previous 40 or so entrants on this list, but that's something too I guess. What happens in those scenes makes no sense, obviously, but it's sequential and without too many strays off the beaten path. It's a little sad, when scenes being sequential is the best thing in a movie, but these flicks are on this list for a reason after all. Like I mentioned, the production value of this film seems relatively high. Cosby was a household name when it was made, and obviously it was made to try and make some coin off of this fact. He plays the role of Leonard very much in the style of his trademark role of Cliff Huxtable – father type figure, bemused by his daughter's antics, who just wants to be left alone by the world. It's all very subdued. The CIA consists of a board of weirdos in a darkened room, pleading with Leonard to come back for his standard fee of a million or 6 million or something. Classic CIA.

More food shenanigans? What is the deal here? Are they pro or con vegetarians? Food waste is a problem. I don't understand. 

We see a B100 familiar face heading up the CIA in this one. Joe Don Baker, who keen readers will remember only too well from my review of Mitchell – the 70s hard boiled cop caper featuring the always bearable Linda Evans. He's back for seconds, and while it's only in a minor role, we get another glimpse at just why he's chosen for these projects. Cosby is a newcomer, and while I don't think his acting career outside of his own sitcoms ever really took off, he isn't really that bad here. It's not a lot to work with, granted, and he doesn't do much with it. He's not believable as a secret agent or government operative in any way shape or form, but he's just Cosby, and that's pretty believable. So he's got that going for him. Leading the terrorist organization is a face I was slightly familiar with. It took me a few moments, but then I recognized her as the Oracle from the first two Matrix movies. She looked a lot better in the 80s, but then so did I probably so I shouldn't point fingers really. Again, there isn't much to work with in terms of character development here, and the motive of the terrorists isn't ever really explained. But she goes at it with gusto, portraying a deranged vegetarian who is fed up with the shit of all us carnivores out there. It's time to turn the animals on us, and make scarce humanity. To what end nobody knows. Perhaps she just wants to ride the roller coasters without having to standing in line.

I don't know much. But I do know, that this isn't something that ought to exist. I've seen it. And now so have you. I make no apologies. 

So the meta value of this film is kind of weird. I'm not one to raise sociopolitical issues in my reviews. This is entertainment afterall. I did find it kind of peculiar, that the allegations against Cosby seem to mirror some of the shit that goes on in Leonard Part 6. His daughter in this movie is heavily sexualized, for no apparent reason, and wants to date a 50 year older dude. Leonard sort of raises the question whether or not he is forcing the daughter or not. It's not really treated or discussed much, it's just a subtext that I can't figure out why was included. It would make sense, if they took it somewhere. They don't. Cosby is now in the same situation in real life, with abuse accusations raised left and right. I wonder if his legal council reviewed this movie for pointers. Or if they just watched it for the striking performances. Whatever the case may be, it's grounds for serious reflection, I think. Which is what I feel this review sort of accomplished. Didn't it? It did.

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