Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cheech & Chong's the Corsican Brothers - 1984

"Cheech & Chong's the Corsican Brothers" - 1984
Dir. by Tommy Chong - 1 hr. 22 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

So.  "Cheech & Chong's the Corsican Brothers," also known as "that movie where Cheech fists a horse."  And as much as I hate to admit it, that was one of the funnier things that happened during this movie.  "The Corsican Brothers" is an odd duck; it's episodic like their earlier movies, but it's also completely devoid of any of the drug humor that Cheech and Chong made their name on, and they also aren't playing "Cheech and Chong."  Instead, Cheech runs through a few personae (sort of), and Chong largely plays what would have to be described as an unwitting soap opera star.

After a framing device that has Cheech and Chong playing loud, obnoxious music and getting paid to stop, a fortune-teller with an eye on their proceeds launches into a tale of their ancestors: The Corsican brothers, Lucian (Chong) and Louis (Cheech).  They are twins, residing in France, and share such a bond that they actually feel whatever pain is inflicted on the other.  They are separated in their childhood, which sends Louis to Mexico to grow up (he got lost, but won't admit it), and turns Lucian into a revolutionary.  Their foil is The Evil Fuckaire (Roy Dotrice), a perverted ruler with a spectacular name and a penchant for wearing studded codpieces and pancake makeup.  Edie McClurg plays The Queen, and is awesome as usual.

I can't help but feel like this movie engaged in a bit of bait-and-switch.  I also feel like I need to do some online sleuthing to figure out exactly what was going on, in terms of the rationale behind making this film.  It's the only Cheech & Chong film that didn't pull a R-rating, and that might be part of why this didn't feel like the kind of movie that I was expecting out of them.  Also, with some of the comedy set-ups, they didn't go as far as I was expecting them to, which is a problem.  If they decided to bill this as a "Cheech & Chong" film, they had to be aware that there were certain things that were going to be expected of them.  Not wanting to completely repeat themselves is an understandable (and noble) artistic impulse, but brand names come with baggage.

Once you get past that you're not going to get what you expect out of "The Corsican Brothers," you have to deal with what is present.  This a slight film, built heavily around sight gags and the duo playing unexpected characters (Cheech as a gay hair-dresser, and Chong as the soap opera star).  If you ignore the credits and the framing sequence, the main story probably barely breaks one hour long, and that's including a sequence of the Corsican brothers' birth, and an extended gag sequence of them eating spaghetti as babies (with facial hair, which will forever be funny).  The main part of the film doesn't overstay it's welcome, but it also doesn't feel like there was much more to be teased out of the set-ups (at least not without upgrading to a R-rating).  But then again, times have surely changed when a film that has bare breasts, a name that contains a naughty word, and Cheech accidentally fisting a horse (yes, really, all the way up to the shoulder) can avoid that R-rating.

I guess my main complaint is that Cheech & Chong themselves don't work well in a PG format.  And when you've got a villain named The Evil Fuckaire, which is awesome, and then can't fully exploit the fact that he's a BDSM-loving pervert who gets off from being whipped and from being called a pervert, why not just pocket that idea until you have a better arena to let him loose in?  Anyways, the actors that are involved do a decent job here, but no one has the foundation or the room to stretch out and really let stuff fly.  Even so, "The Corsican Brothers" is one of those low-budget movies that actually benefits from that approach - it feels like they all got some tights, rolled into a Renn Faire, and spent a week screwing around.  That sort of approach works for ideas like this one, even if it rarely results in a decent film.  It just makes it hard to dislike the product, even when you don't like the movie entirely.  So, while this is definitely not up to the par of their first two films, the worst I can say about this one is that it's inconsequential.

1.5 / 5 - TV

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