Rudy Schwartz's Reviews

Americans don't seem to take much of an interest in geography. A 2005 poll by Roper Public Affairs found that less than half of a surveyed group between ages 18 and 24 knew that Sudan is in Africa, and three fourths of the respondents couldn't find Indonesia on a map. Three years earlier, in a similar study comparing the United States with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, and Great Britain, the U.S. came in next to last, ahead of only Mexico.

For example, do you know where Halifax is? I sure don't. Okay, it's in Nova Scotia, but what the hell is that? Didn't they used to make Chevrolets there? And where is Chicago? Oh sure, I know just what you're saying: "That's in Illinois, dumbass." Okay, fine. Chicago is in Illinois. Jesus, you're smart. I suppose you want a fucking medal.

So, if you take that study, and normalize the scores by factoring in obesity, Americans finish dead last, particularly during the holiday season. Throw in the fact that they're stupid and lazy, and they lag the Saudis on human rights issues. Throw in the existence of Adam Sandler, and you'd have to travel to a neighboring galaxy to find so many idiots.

So why should this matter? Well, for a pristine example of why Americans should get off their asses and learn some basic geography, I'd suggest you attempt to sit through Laser Mission. It's not that Laser Mission is ignorant of geography - it simply refuses to acknowledge it. Sort of like how René Magritte dealt with gravity or George W. Bush coexists with the Constitution. In Laser Mission, you just go places by whatever mode of transportation is available. If point A and point B don't happen to share the same contiguous land mass, and all you've got is a Volkswagen van, no problem. Just drive the damn thing at excessive speeds, ram into a few fruit carts, and shoot a few Africans along the way, and before you know it, you'll be riding on horseback out in the middle of the desert. And along the way, you'll probably run into the Cuban comic relief duo that gave you so many chuckles back in the Bering Strait, when you were straddling that migrating penguin and smelled the tamale stand.

I can't really hate a movie this stupid. It's got Brandon Lee, and he's not even the worst actor by a long shot. It's got Ernest Borgnine. Anything with Ernest Borgnine is okay in my book. Doesn't matter if he's worshipping Satan, brawling with Lee Marvin, dialing for call girls, or boiling some oatmeal on the stove. It's got big flopping titties that are just barely reined in by a blue party dress, and never can quite pop out. It's even got over the top, batshit crazy evil Commie bastards, even though by 1990, one could argue that M. C. Hammer was a much greater threat. But most importantly, it's got stupid. It's in your face, and all over your ass with stupid. Get within a mile of Laser Mission, and it'll turn you into a big shiny popsicle of stupid, wrapped in a ten foot wax paper wrapper, with lots of pretty colors and the word "dumbass" for an ingredients list.

And they don't just throw geography out the window. Numerous ethnic stereotypes get smashed together like in the dreams of a sixteen year old who's guzzled three gallons of cough medicine. Prisons are vague, multicultural establishments with Russians, Cubans, Africans, and Greek rembetika troupes reenacting Star Trek episodes in the mess hall. Countries have ridiculous names like "Mungabinga" or "Kosavoniga," as if randomly generated by a Javascript homework assignment at a community college. Russian slave labor camps in the middle of the desert have signs that read "Verboten," and the Russians have German accents, by which I mean that sound that people make in Jerry Lewis movies when the subject turns to rocket science or bratwurst.

You also get Brandon Lee falling through somebody's dining room ceiling dressed as an Arabic beggar, knocking over some furniture, and then saying: I just dropped in to say "bon appétit"!. You get Ernest Borgnine walking around in explosions and sniper fire with a hunting rifle, occasionally stopping to shoot an African or to trade comic relief quips with the Cubans. You get Brandon Lee taking bullets to the abdomen, and slowly walking them off like most people recover from lawn mower blisters. You get a horrifying room of severed heads that all look like Halloween masks from Value Village. And you get dialogue like this, when Brandon Lee and his co-starring mammarian protuberances stop for a breather in the desert:

I'm Alissa Braun. How do you think I am? I'm hot, I'm tired, I'm hungry and I'm thirsty and I'm walking around in these high heels all day and I have blisters on my feet! And quit asking me such stupid questions, all right? And let me tell you something else, buster, you're not my idea of a dream date! You asshole!

That's Mister Asshole to you.

To make the whole package even more excruciating, the David Knopfler score absolutely sucks dog yangers. It has that late-80s synth-rock urgency that sounds like Foreigner - the kind of swill that was shat for eternity from Pandora's box when Gerry Rafferty released Baker Street. The kind of music that people listen to after failing their SAT exams because they don't know there's an ocean between North America and Europe.

And the delicious frosting on the turd is one of those endings where the bad guy keeps coming back from repeated fatal injuries, including falling a hundred feet into a pit after being sprayed with machine gun fire, or being completely consumed in flames. The only way to really kill a Commie bastard like that is to squish his head with a jeep and a big pile of rocks, while Ernest Borgnine looks on approvingly, flashing the kind of grin that only comes after laxatives have begun to work.

Generally, I don't like anything that isn't at least thirty years old, and I can't really say I like this either, but I'm willing to set its modernity aside to celebrate its relentless, unblinking stupidity, even if I need to take a shower afterwards. In fact, this one left me wondering who was sneering at whom.

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