Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hardbodies - 1984

"Hardbodies" - 1984
Dir. by Mark Griffiths - 1 hr. 28 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

There are bad movies, and there are bad movies that are still entertaining.  "Hardbodies" is, without question, a bad, stereo-typically 1980s film of little merit.  But this film and it's filmmakers are highly aware of this, don't care, and made this movie anyways.  It is as if someone said, "You know what people like?  Boobs."  And then spent an hour and a half delivering pretty much that.  And, begrudgingly, I admit that they are right.  Boobs are nice.  And, in a way, I can appreciate a movie that feels like anything containing more fabric than a two-piece bikini means that you're overdressed.

Scotty (Grant Cramer) is a beach-bum who lives in a trash-heap, and doesn't care about much more than having a good time (although he does have a steady girlfriend that he's true to).  When Scotty is evicted from his beach-side hovel, a new opportunity presents itself in the form of three middle-aged schlubs, Hunter (Gary Wood), Albert Brooks' fatter brother, Rounder (Michael Rapport), and older cowboy (manure salesman, actually) Ashby (Sorrells Pickard).  They've got money, possibly the raddest poontang palace in history (one of the bedrooms actually has a '57 Chevy as the dashboard, and the controls turn the room into a disco scene), sweet cars, and absolutely no chance with the local hotties.  Upon seeing the ease with which Scotty picks up "hardbodies" (stay with me here, this is going to be recurring theme), the three men hire Scotty to teach them how to creep on everything a day older than jailbait (and yes, there is actually a "jailbait" discussion scene) and make up for lost time.

Part of the joy of "Hardbodies" (aside from the boobs) is that it feels like someone had one idea (or more like one word), and then wanted to craft a world around it.  All those hot chicks roller-skating up and down the pier?  Hardbodies.  Need a gym for women to work out in?  Hardbodies.  Got an all-female band with a terrible name (Diaper Rash, for the record)?  Hardbodies.  It's like watching a proto-Pauly Shore movie, where he just has one word that he repeats for the duration of the movie, but even though it's completely dumb, it's still kind of funny because everyone knows he's being dumb.  And would you prefer to watch Paul yShore talk about philosophy?  Probably not, at least not for 90 minutes.  And definitely not without a ton of bare boobs, because that always speeds things along.

Did I mention there's a lot of boobs on display in "Hardbodies?"  I kind of think each actress should have gotten a co-starring credit for her rack.  This is the most important thing about "Hardbodies": it delivers what you think it will.  Sometimes, a movie that promises a bad sex comedy will throw in a topless scene or two, and then you have to admit that you at least got that.  Not so here.  Director Mark Griffiths is like the Michael Bay of sweater meat.  If one explosion...  I mean one topless woman is good, maybe six more would be better?  Forget that, make it eight.  Too much dialogue wearing things down?  Pop off that top, honey!  To be entirely fair to female viewers, though, you do get a clean look at Scotty's bare rump pretty quickly (like, immediately after the opening credit montage), and it's not like it's only the women who choose not to wear shirts most of the time.  "Hardbodies" is a tanned, toned, showing off your time at the gym kind of movie.

There's a lot of stuff in the actual story that would drive people batty, if "Hardbodies" was made today.  The idea of hiring a kid to teach middle-aged guys how to trick women into sleeping with them (for the record, this involves buying new clothes, throwing a bash at your awesome house, and sealing the deal with cocaine) would be a tough one to build a movie around (although there's never a shortage of movies purporting a "system" for pulling chicks, which suggests the intended audience for movies like this might not be teenagers, but their frustrated dads).  There would be a never-ending stream of unamused people suggesting that these characters would be better off seeking more fulfilling relationships, preferably with people of their own age,  You know, since that's how things have historically worked between men and women.  The trio ply women with intoxicants, promise connections for potential careers...  You know, standard scumbag stuff.  But Hunter learns his lesson quickly when he's rebuffed early in the film, wanting to know what's in it for her, since she "doesn't fuck fossils for free."  It's a catchy turn of phrase, which Ashby turns into a country song later in the film, as his "filly" does nude yoga on the beach, before pouring a glass of champagne on herself.  Both sides are in it for personal gain, which doesn't suggest much in the way of noble aspirations.

There's a lot that's funny here.  But a lot of the things that are funny are like this:

There's great '80s fashion, like the fat guy in the belly shirt that reads "boogie til you puke."  There are miles of beautiful women, only one of whom has any problem with displaying her goods.  That's the biggest thing "Hardbodies" has going for it; the people involved knew exactly what kind of film they were making, make no apologies for it, and then double down on it.  That kind of confidence goes a ways towards making what is unfortunately still not recognized by the Academy for excellence in toplessness somewhat palatable.  And, of the cliches it does make use of, it doesn't try to make anything into a giant deal.  This isn't a "save the house" movie, it's more like "save Scotty's relationship, because Hunter turns out to be a dick" movie.  It doesn't make "Hardbodies" good, but I knew what I was expecting out of this film, and got more than that out of it.  Getting anything at all out of it would have been a minor victory, so I can't get upset at all if it's not an all-time classic.  It's stupid, pretty, fun eye-candy, and that's good enough sometimes.

2 / 5 - TV

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