Saturday, April 08, 2017

161. Superchick

161. Superchick (1973)
Director: Ed Forsyth
Writers: Gary Crutcher from a story by John H. Burrows
From: Cult Cinema
Flight attendant and karate master Tara B. True has a man in every city, but when some thugs threaten one of her lovers if she doesn’t help them in a heist on one of her flights, it’s questionable whether she’ll come out on top this time.
This is a Marimark production. I didn’t know it was a Marimark production until the very end. I initially thought it was going to be one, but somehow convinced myself it wasn’t, and then it was. Ironically, I had planned on watching this for April Fools’ Day assuming then that it was a Marimark production, thus the joke being on me. I fucking hate Marimark.

This is the company that produced The Beach Girls, Coach, and Galaxina, some of my most hated movies so far (and, to be fair, Hunk, one of the ones I enjoyed). Superchick is the earliest Marimark film I have and clearly set the standard for all the others that followed.

That standard is the same one The Asylum of Sharknado fame uses for their films: take an idea that’s successful, make a cover that looks close enough to that idea, and make people pay up front. The idea Superchick is selling is The Stewardesses meets cheap karate film.

The plot: Tara is an uber-sexy flight attendant. She’s so sexy that she has to disguise herself as a dowdy prude while on the job because, when she didn’t, as she says, “even the automatic pilot made a pass at me.” Her route takes her to New York, Miami, and Los Angeles and she has a lover in each city. In New York, it’s brain surgeon Ernest who shares a sophisticated, high-class life with her, but never touches her due to his germaphobia. In Miami, it’s gigolo Johnny who helps her indulge in fun, sun, and lots of sexy times. Finally, in LA, it’s rock star Davy who sends her to all the hippest underground parties in town.

You’d think the story would be that the three men would find out about each other and conflict would ensue, but you’d be wrong. Instead, Johnny has a gambling debt and the crooks he’s in the hole to want him to convince Tara to smuggle guns onto a flight so they can use them to rob a mobster transporting money from mafia casinos. This plot doesn’t matter, though, because it’s delivered in drips and drabs, isn’t fully articulated until about an hour into the movie, and is resolved in under 5 minutes.

So we don’t have jealous lovers, we don’t have her facing off against a criminal enterprise, surely the only thing left for the movie to focus on is the sex comedy aspect—a series of bawdy set-pieces that may not age well, but are there for easy nudity and burlesque-style puns. If you’re thinking that, you have forgotten that this is a Marimark production. The rest of the film is padded out with footage of driving, parking, and indulging in various touristy activities.

The reason I harp on it being a Marimark production and the reason I’m kind of harsh on their films in general is because there are legitimate moments of wit, cleverness, and invention. Their movies always look good so they have people who know how to do the basic work. On top of that, they get relatively competent actors. For instance, this movie has John Carradine in a goofy cameo and he camps it right up to the skies. Finally, some of the jokes land. I laughed out loud several times, halfway due to shock at a joke being legitimately funny. All these things point to the kind of movie it could have been while simultaneously reminding you of exactly the movie that it is.

I could go into the gender politics of these films, but there’s no point. They don’t even rise to the level of being political because they’re so boring. Marimark, the company that never fails to disappoint, sinks to the task again. Clearly, this isn’t a recommend and it’s not worth looking for even to make fun of. It’s putatively a comedy—how do you make fun of a comedy?

While I have a little under 200 more movies to go through before this project is done, I’m more disheartened by the thought that I have 8 more Marimark productions ahead of me. Save me Bob.

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