Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's just a dumb movie.

In the pre-credits opening of Hardbodies 2, a bird shits on James Karen (playing the director of the dumb softcore flick within this dumb softcore flick). The moment is an obvious self-critique from the filmmakers, who are also responsible for the first Hardbodies; throughout the film, Karen's boorish, idiotic director is similarly humiliated, abused and mocked. Hardbodies 2 is a horrible movie made by people who know they make horrible movies, and while this doesn't make it any less horrible, it is at least perversely interesting.

Scotty (Brad Zutaut, replacing Grant Cramer), the protagonist of the first Hardbodies, arrives in Greece to make a T&A picture. No explanation is given for how this character became an actor, and he's a curious choice for a marquee idol, looking like Jeff Daniels and Martha Plimpton took a trip through Seth Brundle's pods together. Like Inland Empire, the plot of the film-within-a-film dovetails with Scotty's story, burdened as he is with a fiancee (Brenda Bakke) who doesn't realize how hard it is to be a giant walking erection. Groins are kicked, gas is passed and mullets are ubiquitous. While none of this is surprising, the suggestion that the filmmakers are intelligent enough to realize that they suck makes things even worse. If they had demonstrated the wit to actively parody the first film, that would at least make them more recognizably human; instead, they deliver even the most horrid "jokes" with a shit-eating grin, implying that the joke is, in fact, on us for being too pretentious to enjoy the simple, old-timey pleasures of gay jokes and boner fodder.

While Karen (uncharacteristically bad here, though Orson Welles probably couldn't do better) flails about like an enormous ass, the filmmakers aren't poking fun at their incompetence so much as their doofishness. It's clear that they idolize Scotty, who is presented as a straightforward romantic hero (the word "love" is invoked in alien ways here). Towards the beginning, it seemed that at least the film wouldn't spiral into total misogyny, allowing Scotty's fiancee to voice her frustration at his womanizing. But of course, this is just a setup for her inevitable humiliation and rejection, the explicit message being that guys who score a lot are awesome and women who have multiple partners are deplorable sluts.

While none of this is surpising, it's still unusually pathetic compared to superior 80's teen sex comedies of the at least make some reference to the emotional consequences of sex (The Last American Virgin) or take time to grant women the right to sexual pleasure (Porky's). And Russ Meyer proved that breasts can be enough of a subject to sustain an entire film. But the Hardbodies movies are far worse than that; they're not motivated by eroticism, but by a desire to entrap, objectify and dominate women using the camera as a weapon. Hardbodies 2 hates sex, women and movies. If you like this movie, you are probably a chimp.

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