Although we can be pretty cutting here, I think it’s pretty clear that we’re not snobs. We don’t demand that every movie be Casablanca. Ken owns a copy of all the flicks he’s reviewed for Jabootu. He actually owns a copy of Can’t Stop the Music! That must put him in a very exclusive club. He’s said on several occasions that he really enjoys these movies, albeit not in the way the filmmakers intended. And I’m sure we all enjoy the three Bs now and again (Bombs, Bullets, and Bruce Willis) when the correct dosage is applied.
Some movies end up here when they try to go beyond their explosions and try to be some great piece of art, or send out a message. On Deadly Ground is a good example. Although flawed in many different areas, a good start to fixing that film would be to drop the “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” gaga and revise the plot summary to “There are some bad guys. Steven Seagal kicks their butts in a variety of interesting ways while speaking as little as possible. The end.”
In short, because it tried to be more than just an action movie, it became Jabootu fodder. Sometimes the problem runs deeper than this though. Submitted for your approval: Fire, Ice & Dynamite, a movie that was completely ruined because someone insisted on giving it a plot, characters, and worse, comedy. Actually, it ended up having none of these things really, but as an audience member you can’t help but be annoyed when you notice someone constantly trying to insert them, and failing.
The director is Willy Bogner, who directed/supervised/shot skiing stunt sequences for several James Bond movies. This is actually a sort of follow-up to an earlier flick he did, Fire & Ice. Both flicks were basically made to showcase one thing: the stunts. The stunts for Fire, Ice & Dynamite are actually truly impressive and thoroughly enjoyable. Unfortunately, they’re padded with a less than compelling plot and various bodies moving and talking in what I think is meant to represent acting, but I won’t swear to it. I’m not kidding when I say if they’d simply shown me an hour and a half of stunts, maybe bordered with some commentary to slow things down between the pieces of eyecandy, I would have munched on my popcorn and watched happily. Instead, I had problems keeping my popcorn down.
The movie begins with a warning. No, not that the movie will suck, but that the stunts in the movie are executed by “the world’s greatest athletes and stuntmen” (and not the world’s greatest actors and actresses), therefore kids, don’t try this at home. Hey, that should be “and stuntwomen” in there, don’t be sexist.
Next we see an aerial view of a chateau in what is probably Switzerland. I’ll give the movie this much credit–there is some nice scenery to behold. A voice over proclaims grandly “This is Megathon.” Oh boy, it’s Roger Moore as Sir George, returning a favor for an old matey it seems. We can’t really put the former 007 in the Embarrassed Actor’s SeriesTM, because he doesn’t seem to be embarrassed. True, he pretty much goes through this movie on autopilot, but the point is he can go through this movie on autopilot. Most of his costars cannot make the same claim.
The voice continues, and we learn that the Megathon is “the most colossal sporting challenge the world has ever seen, for the biggest prize in historyâ€¦” Ooh, what is it? The Meaning of Life? Immortality?
“â€¦One hundred and thirty-five million dollars.”
Oh. This marks the first time in film history where a reward of $135 mil is a letdown. Sure, I wouldn’t pass up a prize like that if were offered to me, but for “the biggest prize in history,” it seems kinda lame.
Anyway, we cut to an office, where Sir George is reviewing a video tape. The opening voice over it seems is part of a promo for the Megathon. Sir George begins fast-forwarding it (yeah, right with you there pal). Another portion begins playing. We see a column of monitors showing various “extreme” sports, mostly skiing of some kind. The voice over continues “snow and air, water and rock, fire and iceâ€¦” and scotch and soda for me thanks. I’m gonna need a stiff drink to make it through this one.
Georgie is interrupted by a page. He touches a control on this weird panel he has (it seems to have all sort of buttons and a mini-cassette, as it were an answering machine). This admits three of his private secretaries, who immediately begin to make “watermelon, watermelon” noises. Problem: there’s only three of them, so it’s rather obvious they’re just making noise. They spout off random bits of dialogue like “We’re concerned” and “It’s too dangerous.” Sir George casually brushes aside their protests and begins to compliment them on their wardrobe and hair. This is to establish that Sir George is a suave, debonair, devil-may-care kind of fellow, and a bit of a jagoff too apparently.
One of Sir George’s secretaries, Serena, is played by the second billed Shari Belfonte (despite not being present most of the time, a lot like Roger Moore, actually). Shari is the daughter of Harry “Day-O” Belfonte. Shari has moved on to better things, and of late she can be seen hanging around Babylon 5 (let’s be nice and overlook the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous days, ok?). She too pretty much agreed to show up on the days where they were filming this movie, and not much else.
Sir George continues to be evasive (I could use less kind words to describe his behavior), so Serena says “We are concerened,” with particular emphasis. This unfortunately makes the trio of secretaries sound like three of Daddy’s Princesses sucking up for the keys to the Beamer tonight.
Sir George simply tells them to “Take care of the place until I return ladies,” an odd comment in light of later information. But for now Sir George turns to a butler, MacVey. With those grey muttonchop sideburns, MacVey looks like the guy playing Watson in a production of The Hound of the Baskervilles mistakenly wandered on to the set. “Have a nice flight Sir George,” he says in an unidentifiable accent. “Have a nice holiday,” returns Sir George. Plot point! Not much of one, but a plot point nonetheless.
Outside, a chopper awaits. Before Sir George can board, an Italian woman (?) named Sabrina runs up to Sir George and gives him a bag of bananas. Apparently, in Switzerland there are employment opportunities for Italians wishing to open banana stands in prime skiing locations.
As the chopper takes off, Sabrina says “That’s a lovely man, he adores my bananas!” I think that was supposed to be a double-entendre. I don’t wish to be crude, but uhm, women really don’t have anything that looks like a banana. This apparently never occurred to anyone. Now this would be the warning that the movie is going to suck.
Ok, roll the theme music, a forgettable rock song (by Deep Purple!) with the same title as the movie. Also roll the opening credits. Let’s see if we recognize anyone else embarrassing themselves. Oh, here we go. One for foreign film fans–Uwe Ochsenknecht, aka the Chief Bosun on Das Boot. That’s a bit of a come down. Hmm, Geoffrey Moore. Could he be related to anyone we know? Ah, and music by Harold Faltermeyer. In the mid-80s, he had a good career going owing largely to doing music for two big hits–Top Gun, and Beverly Hills Cop (remember “Axl F”?). Faltermeyer’s music relies on a lot of synth, which is not really popular in North America these days, so his name doesn’t have quite the clout here as it once did.
Special mention must go to the credit “Marjoe Gortner as Dan Selby.” I had no idea who this guy was until I looked him up. He’s a former child evangelist who starred in Morjoe, an Oscar-winning documentary! He’s since gone on to be in a number of breathtakingly bad movies, such as Starcrash and Viva Knievel!. Here, he plays a sportcaster we’ll be meeting later.
One last embarrassing thing during the credit sequence–we track one helicopter as it flies over the terrain (nice terrain, too). We’re tracking one helicopter mind you, but two helicopter shadows appear on the mountain. Would that be the camera crew’s copter, perhaps? On the video version this is not quite as noticeable, but in the theater, it was larger than life. Maybe someday they’ll release a widescreen version to restore this moment to its full glory.
Ok, the chopper lands in a snowy field where a private jet is waiting. A stewardess greets Sir George. Curious George asks if they’re on schedule for their take off at 11:05, which they are. He then says “Don’t eat my bananas,” as he boards the plane. Shari’s dad appears and begins to sing “Stack banana till de morning come! Daylight come and me wan’ go home.” Okay, he doesn’t really, but with all this talk of bananas, I think they’re trying some kind of incantation to summon him.
Inside the plane, three business-type guys are awaiting George. George tells the stewardess that she’s looking “as lovely as ever.” Seeing his passengers, he quips “Wish I could say the same thing for you, gentlemen.” If you find yourself overcome with laughter here, you might want to pause the movie until you recover, because there’s some exposition coming up that you shouldn’t miss. Just a helpful tip from your agents of Jabootu.
Business Guys reveal that whatever company George runs, it’s not doing so well. This is because George is a real sensitive 90s millionaire and is spending the company’s money on humanitarian interests. We learn that one of George’s investments was actually buying a rainforest in Borneo!
“It’s a very beautiful rainforest,” sniffs Sir George. “Someone had to take care of it.” The size of the rainforest is not mentioned, but I’m guessing it cost a pretty big chunk of change. But I’m a little puzzled at its ongoing cost, if he’s bought it outright. It’s not like they have to heat the damn thing. Did they have to fence it off or something? Do they have staff patrolling it? Do they continue to pay property tax to the government? Would it not have been cheaper and more efficient to make a big “donation” to the local government and tell them not to clearcut the place? Maybe they should fence it off and charge admission.
Anyway, one of George’s other hobbies is saving rhinos. This leads to some IMMORTAL DIALOGUE as the Biz Guys protest the expenditures. One also says they have “very large partners who want out, now!” and that if this continues, they will have to break up the company and sell it off, including (gasp!) the rain forest.
Taking all this in, Sir George gravely says “Saving those rainforests may one day save our planet.” “But not us,” grumbles a less than environmentally friendly biz guy. See my notes in the Highlander 2 review about “saving the planet.” The nutshell version: planet Earth can exist just fine without rainforests and ozone layers. It’s humans who can’t.
Sir George announces that he has a solution. Standing, he says “Just suppose for example, I fell out of this door,” indicating one of the sealed doors of the airplane. One biz guy says “George, people don’t fall of aeroplanes,” (Yes, he does say “aeroplanes”, this is a European production, specifically, German).
“It could happen,” says George. “Oh, one would have to equalize the cabin pressure of courseâ€¦” he begins doing this, and opens the hatch. While they protest, oxygen masks fall out from the ceiling, and George throws himself out the door. There is plenty of time to stop him, but they don’t. I was originally going to point this out as an oversight, but now I think they might have their reasons for not stopping him. “George no, don’t! Get away from that door Psst! Turn the latch clockwise! Be careful, don’tâ€¦” That sort of thing.
Ah, now the only good thing about this movie comes into play. The stunt sequences. This one has a stuntman who occasionally looks like Roger Moore plummeting to Earth without a chute. Two more skydivers come along, and after an initial struggle, manage to help him into one. Few shots actually give away the fact that the stunt man isn’t Moore, although they do show that there’s not nearly enough wind during the close-ups of Moore they’ve spliced in, and there’s no way his glasses should have stayed on. Once in parachute, “Sir George” does a little flip (showoff).
This stunt sequence is well done and would make a fine addition to a good action movie. Unfortunately, it’s in Fire, Ice & Dynamite. And the stunt fits into the plot of the movie. So we are to believe that Sir George timed the exact point of when he could throw himself out of a plane and have two skydivers jump from another plane tailing him, and give him a parachute. Not only that, he touches down within a few yards of a waiting limo. Wow, that went off beautifully. I wonder if they did a few dry-runs of faking George’s death?
The limo driver reports into a walkie-talkie that George has landed. Back up in the plane, the pilot reports to one of the business guys (let’s call him Nice Business Guy, he makes a few appearances) the news of George’s touchdown. Ok, let’s see. The two skydivers are in on the conspiracy. Nice Biz Guy and the pilot are in on the conspiracy. So is the limo driver. Earlier, we heard George’s three secretaries protesting that something was too dangerous, presumably this little endeavor. It is possible they are referring to the Megathon, so we will cut them out of the count for now. Still we have at least five people who know that Sir George is really alive. I hope he can count on their silence.
Nice Biz Guy explains that they are turning back, and will draft a press release on the incident. Business Guys wonder what will happen to the company now. NBG says “that’s up to the heirs.” To the other guys’ surprise, we learn that George had three children, two sons and a daughter, by different women. He didn’t get round to marrying says NBG (well obviously he couldn’t, unless he was a Mormon), but the kids inherit everything, including the company. There’s just one catch.
“They’re going to have to prove themselves,” says NBG. “You see, they’re a pretty weird bunch of kids.”
Cut back to the entrance of Stately Sir George Manner, where a woman with absolutely, huge, giganticâ€¦hair is entering. I’m serious, this woman is wearing a privet hedge on her head. She’s also dressed for the harsh Switzerland winter: leather jacket and lots of chains. This would be Lucy White, one of George’s hairs. I mean, heirs. Lucy is played by Connie De Groot, making her film debut, and her film farewell.
As she enters, we can hear some mumbling lots of business babble such as “GDP. GDP. What’s the gross?” (for this movie? Probably not much) This is Dudley Winslow, another heir (Geoffrey Moore, and yep, he’s the son of Roger). He’s talking into a cell phone. Seeing him, Lucy barks “Hey! Hello! You run this joint?” He’s obviously on the phone, so we discover manners will not be her specialty.
Hanging up, Dudley says “No. The tradesman’s entrance is in the rear. I suggest you use it.” Lucy asks “What for?” proving that reading between the lines won’t be her specialty.
“Washing, scrubbing, you know, that sort of thing,” explains Dudley. Lucy responds “I’m really going to enjoy firing you.” But before any character development can break out, MacVey enters the room and apologizes for not being there to greet them.
It seems that Switzerland is a lot like Metropolis, a place where a very simple disguise such as a pair of glasses can assure a secret identity. “MacVey” is now played by Roger Moore, wearing a grey wig and facial hair, and speaking with a Scottish accent. At this point in the movie its unclear whether this is supposed to be Sir George in a less than stellar disguise, or Roger Moore playing a dual role. Allow me to play spoiler here and tell you it’s Sir George incognito. So then the real MacVey we saw earlier is in on this scam. Running total of people who know Sir George isn’t dead: six..
I’ll continue to refer to Sir George as MacVey while he’s dressed like him for simplicity’s sake. MacVey reveals that Lucy and Dudley are related. Cut to a nice close-up of Lucy who says “You wanna run that by me again Mac?” she asks, appearing to glance at something off to her left (possibly cue cards). “Are you telling me this jerk is myâ€¦”
“â€¦half-brother,” finishes Dudley. MacVey also reveals another heir “Mr. Alexander” will also be arriving shortly. “Well, if he’s anything like this one, it’s going to be one hell of a family,” says Lucy, proving that witty repartee will not be her specialty. The actress playing Lucy is no Jody Foster, but geez, who could squeeze some life out of lines like that one?
Lucy and Dudley are show to their rooms, and a short while later, Alexander arrives. Is the word “foppish” still in use, or is it now archaic? That’s a good way to describe him. Arriving in the hallway, which has suits of armor, he remarks “My God, who did the decor?” (pronounced “day-core”). “Genghis Kahn?” Alexander sounds a lot like the kind of person they lampoon in Absolutely Fabulous.
MacVey explains that their father was a man of action (and he had a license to kill, so just you watch it, pal!). Alex cheekily observes “Or a psychopath. Depends on your point of view.” Hey, when did Oscar Wilde get here?
Upon learning that everyone is waiting in the study, he says “Wonderful. I was expecting the armory. Have the other little baskets arrived?” Serena, who looks thoroughly unenthused, says an appropriately Poltergeist-ish confirmation. “They’re all here.”
Up in the study, we have a gathering of at least 40 people. Serena explains that they represent “large corporations who have an interest in these proceedings.” Alex in turn identifies them as creditors. He’s then introduced to his half-brother and half-sister.
“This is a brother?” snorts Lucy, or would if the actress could actually put some proper emphasis into her lines. Smirking, Alex says “You must be the bitchy one in the family. The one that imagines she can sing.” Sing? Uh-oh. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
“What do you mean, ‘imagine’?” grumbles Lucy, proving that the stinging rebuttal won’t be her specialty. At a loss for a comeback, Alex instead inquires “Who’s the weirdo?” referring to a bald-headed man with round, wire-frame glasses. Serena explains that this is Brother Quatar, who heads up a religious movement. Just to make sure we get it, a coral sitar begins playing. Serena explains that Sir George once promised him a large donation. As we can see, Sir George was a real nice guy. Way to promise that money, then yank it away. Presumably there are a few orphanages and United Way representatives here too.
Ok, enough of this hearty banter. The reading of the will proceeds, suffering only from brief interruption as Dudley’s cell phone goes off (this was released in 1990, when they were still relatively novel. Nowadays if a cell phone went off in a room of 40 business people, 40 people would check 40 different phones).
A lawyer guy announces “All the properties, companies, corporations, banks and institutions, investment portfolios and cash depositsâ€¦for the total value of $135, 276, 432.23 are bequeathed tooâ€¦” big dramatic pause “â€¦the Megathon Foundation.”
Wow. One hundred and thirty five million dollars is a lot of money. To you or me that is. To a corporation of this size, it’s pocket change. I once worked for a truly awful and incompetent company that owned a single building in the armpit of the Greater Metro Toronto area. It was worth 80 million dollars in its heyday (about the mid-90s). Sir George supposedly runs a multinational corporation that owns banks and a rainforest, amongst other things. Anyone else think that a $135 mil is a little light? Perhaps some employees have been skimming. What’s even weirder is that some of these people have gleams in their eye, as if this money was the most colossal sum ever. We will eventually learn what corporations they represent, and believe me, while having an extra $135 mil would be something they would all like, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to them.
At this announcement, much “Watermelon, Watermelon” is served to the guests. Some appear to be pissed, others simply prepare to leave, including Dudley, who doesn’t seem to care that he’s just been stiffed out of his inheritance. Sabrina and her husband Giovanni stand up and announce they have a claim against Sir George’s estate for 284 francs. This would seem to be George’s unpaid banana bill (Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch! Daylight come and me wan’ go home. Errâ€¦sorry). How nice of Sir George to shaft the couple. And his business partners, and a religious order. Anyone else? I’ll bet there’s a Girl Scout troop here that’s beginning to realize they won’t be seeing a dime for all those cookies they sold to Sir George.
MacVey is in the room by the way, carefully observing the reactions of the people present. Ok, his kids are estranged, so they might not recognize him. What about the rest of his staff? Won’t they notice an unusual change in MacVey, as in that he suddenly looks a lot like their supposedly deceased boss? What about George’s business partners, or representatives from the companies? He wanders around like there’s no danger of him being recognized, which is why I though Roger Moore might have originally been playing two different characters.
NBG quells the protests and says “Take your seats again, please.” (Where should we take them? Errâ€¦sorry). “Sir George has a few words to say.” At that, a recording of Sir George begins to play on a nearby monitor. MacVey and the two other secretaries exchange glances, putting the cover-up awareness tally to 8).
On the monitor, Sir George explains that the Megathon Foundation is a “registered charity dedicated to sporting endeavors.” Therefore, it “can’t be held accountable for breach of contract, loan guarantees, accrued interest, or even profit participation.” Well, I suppose that all depends on the local laws. Still, I think this statement probably won’t hold water. Although the laws governing charities usually differ from those governing companies, a broken contract is still a broken contract. Charities still have to be managed with responsibility (perhaps even more so than a corporation, now that we’re on the subject) and bad management and financial incompetence has to be dealt with. I once worked for a major Canadian charity, and it was hideously mismanaged (wow, I never realized my awful work experience would come in so handy for reviewing movies). When I left it, it was involved in major lawsuits due to its mishandling of the money it had acquired, and for the pretences under which it had acquired it. Nobody was willing to let incompetent or unethical management slide, even though it was a charity with a worthwhile cause.
The issue is complicated by Sir George’s death, but I think this will can be contested. It’s pretty obvious that he had this whole thing prearranged. I have no idea how the law works in this case, but they have a good start on establishing that George was a bonafide nutter. Can’t this be used to invalidate the will?
Anyway, George continues, saying that Megathon won’t be using the money to “cover anyone’s losses. Not even my own.” For some reason, this leads Sabrina to comment “He was a wonderful man,” not sarcastically, as you might expect, but sincerely.
Sir George says they have a choice. They can write off their losses, or “take a sporting chance.” At last we’ve arrived at the “plot.” The Megathon Foundation is going to hold a series of races. Any person with a claim against Sir George can enter a team. The winning team will take home the $135 million.
“Examine the alternatives,” says Sir George, and then mysteriously drones about how they would otherwise have to break up and sell the companies, and they’d lose everything, including the rainforests, the rhinos and the great whales (oh brother). Whoa, hold on, I thought the $135 million was the total value of Sir George’s company and all its holdings. It sounds to me like that whoever wins the Megathon will split up the companies anyway. Will Sabrina and Giovanni want to manage a rainforest if they win? Or is it more likely they will take the cash equivalent, blow their banana stand and live like royalty some place really sunny?
Entering the Megathon requires that all the participants drop any future claim. Also, Sir George’s children will be representing his estate, essentially competing to win their inheritance. At the mention of the kids, Sir George addresses the final part of the message to them.
Acknowledging that they haven’t been close (“You can say that again,” smirks Dudley, to no useful end), Sir George says it was for reasons “that couldn’t be revealed to you.” Or the audience, for that matter. In fact, no background on Sir George whatever will be given. We don’t know what his company does (I assume it found some way of earning enough money to buy a rainforest, save whales, baby seals, the Mauritius Fruitbat, etc., etc.,). We are never given even the name of the corporation. Sir George is apparently more than just a business man. I’m guessing that since Roger Moore is best known as James Bond #3 (ok, James Bond #7 if you count the ones in Casino Royale), we are to assume he is playing a 007-like character who has since retired and made a mint in big business somehow. It’s pretty bad when a movie has to rely on some totally unrelated movies to establish a character.
“My memories of you go back to your childhood,” says Sir George, thankfully clearing up the misconception that his memories go back to when his kids were in retirement homes. “Let me remind you of those days.”
Cheesy synthesizer music, undoubtedly courtesy of Harold “Mr. 80s” Falyermeyer (maybe Aha will lend a musical hand later), and old video footage of children is displayed. As Sir George narrates, each child smiles slightly. I dunno. I’m never thrilled when my parents break out the old photographs. These are being shown to 40 odd strangers too. Fortunately for them there are no images of anyone being potty trained.
Over images of young Dudley playing with a sleigh George says that Dudley always had the desire to win, an instinct he now uses to make money, but the Megathon can revive his sporting spirit. Uh oh. Successful but soulless business guy. Playing with a sleigh as a young boy. Ring a (sleigh) bell? It would seem we have found yet another bad movie determined to further shoot itself in the foot by reminding viewers there are much better movies out there.
Lucy is next. Sir George mentions how she was always a “tomboy” and a “rebel” and that she will need these traits if she is to win. Oh yeah. Rebelliousness in a team setting. Always works wonders. “Just as you’ll need to change your lifestyle, and go to bed at a reasonable hour.” Pay attention folks, this is the last of the character development.
“Alex, you’ve lead a strange life these days,” says Sir George as we see young Alex playing hockey. “You used to like games and sport, the Megathon can help you regain those values. Perhaps the creativity you have will help your team to win.”
OK, Dudley is a business guy, Lucy is a singer (shudder), but what does Alex do? What he does is never specified. So unless dressing weird and carrying on like he wants to be in the Village People: The Next Generation has money in it, what does he do for a living?
“Good luck children,” says Georgie. “Have fun with the Megathon.” He doesn’t add “if you can.”
Now cut to what appears to be a burnt-out mansion. Sinister music appropriate for introducing a Scooby-Doo villain begins to play. A weasely butler is porting a tea tray. For some comedy, he steps on something that makes a bad impersonation of a cat and recoils. Inside some kind of den, our villains, brother and sister combo Viktor and Magda DeBris (get it? DE-BRIS?) are watching some kind of promo for the Megathon (both siblings are bald, for no readily apparent reason). For some more comedy which you might not appreciate if your humor has not evolved beyond laughing at Family Circus cartoons, they yell at their bumbling butler to get out of the way.
Viktor grumbles “Megathon. I prefer Megatons.” Magda says “That’s your problem. You’re bomb happy.” Well then, Viktor must be ecstatic to be in this megaton bomb. We learn that Viktor’s experiments with explosives have devastated the west wing, presumably where they are now (why not sit in the east wing instead?). To our growing alarm, we discover these guys won’t just be villains, they’ll be comic relief villains. Viktor is played by Das Boot’s Uwe Ochsenknecht, while Magda is played by Celia Gore-Booth, making her film debut, and film farewell. Incidentally, according to the credits it’s “Victor,” but I think it would be a lot cooler to spell it “Viktor.” So there.
Naturally, if you want to make sure your villains are not at all memorable, pose no threat to your heroes, and prevent any of that over-rated tension or drama, make them incompetent. Viktor wants to enter the Megathon, but wonders what kind of qualities he has that will help him compete. Sister Magda helpfully lists them: “you lose your temper, you’re cowardly, neurotic, and you sulk.” Suddenly, Terminal Island’s Bobby Farr appears and thanks them profusely for making him look so dangerous in comparison. However Viktor counters with “I cheat,” as his only useful quality. Magda’s eyes light up as though this is enough to make a complete goof win a series of dangerous events competing against pro athletes.
Her eagerness is short-circuited by her realization that they need some kind of claim to enter the Megathon. Viktor proposes vengeance as a reason. Apparently Sir George killed their father. I’m assuming now that George is or was definitely more than a successful business man, some kind secret service or law enforcement agent, justifying the death of the elder DeBris. Otherwise, that would make him a murderer.
That vengeance claim won’t work though, says Magda, and besides “if we use our real names we’d have to return all that gold he stole.” This might be a sly reference to the James Bond movie Goldfinger. Pretty clever, huh? Or at least, it would be if Roger Moore had actually been playing James Bond in that movie.
Viktor then determines that the only way to get into the Megathon would be to find a sponsor. I assume he means to find a way to represent another team, because that is what they end up doing eventually. They will enter the contest, “and destroy his children,” gloats Viktor. Magda speaks for us all by saying “Who cares about the kids?” Viktor speaks for himself when he says “I care.” The scene ends abruptly here on those words. Oh well.
Our next shot we see a cable car transporting some skiers up a mountainside [insert tasteless joke about low-flying American aircraft here]. NBG is explaining that there are seven events in the Megathon, and they must participate in at least one event. They can get professionals to fill up the rest of the team. Hey, I wonder if the same thing applies to other corporations. Does this mean that the CEO of Volkswagen (one of the companies with a claim against Sir George) must participate in a Megathon event? I picture most of them taking the Montgomery Burns route and simply hiring high-profile ringers to take on no-brainer jobs so they can win the Megathon (just as Mr. Burns did to win the softball game in The Simpsons.).
As the cable car nears its destination, keep a close eye on the car. An uncooperative extra begins waving at the camera. Perhaps if he knew what the movie was like, he would hide his face instead.
Inside the cable car (actually, inside a cable car which has noticeably fewer people than the one we just saw), Dudley is protesting “Hang on, a guy could get killed out there.” This is a strange comment, because we will later learn that what the actual events of the Megathon are won’t be revealed until one hour before they actually go down.
“Killed!” emotes Alex, “Did I hear ‘killed’?” Did I hear dialogue seldom heard outside of a Sesame Street sketch? Lucy sneers “Relax, he’s exaggerating. The whole thing is a sick joke set up by a sick, senile old man.” Later we will find out it is no exaggeration, proving that precognition won’t be her specialty.
MacVey is present and coughs that Sir George took the Megathon very seriously. “He looked upon it as a character-building experience.” Lucy retorts hilariously “My character doesn’t need building.” Guess again, Mr. Screenwriter. Alex concurs though. “That’s true, ‘demolition’ is the word that springs to mind.” MacVey–who seems to be here to not-so-subtly express the wishes of Sir George–says “That’s an invigorating thought, but I think we should stick to the task at hand.” Either the screenwriter doesn’t know what “invigorating” means, or perhaps Sir George is fed up with his daughter too. Hey, maybe this whole thing is his plot to kill them.
They next try to work out “who does what,” which doesn’t seem like a particularly useful activity since they won’t know what the events are until an hour before they start. In fact, how is this supposed to work anyway? What happens if one company assembles the world’s top skiers, only to discover that Sir George has determined that the first round will be a Rugby match or something?
It comes to light here that Alex can’t do much of anything (which like, totally makes him stand out from the rest of this crew, let me tell you). He is good at “curling.” Lucy asks “on ice?” He replies, “No dear, with heated rollers.” [insert heartfelt wish for low-flying American aircraft right about now here]
Eventually, they get out on the mountain. For some reason, they are alone up here even though we saw a cable car full of people earlier. The subject of a team name is raised. Alex says he “Quite likes the ‘Wild Ones’.” Lucy’s response is “I’m sure you do, sweetie.” I suppose we’re left to infer here that Alex is gay. He is leaving no stereotype unturned, after all. Hairdressing, gaudy clothing, commenting on decorâ€¦he just has to reveal a passion for showtunes next.
MacVey suggests that they should look to the family motto. He mentions it, in Latin (no, it isn’t “The World is Not Enough”). Alex translates “In battle be like both fire and ice.” Thus, the name Fire and Ice is agreed upon. I’m glad to see Sir George is letting them dictate their own destiny.
Lucy looks through one of those telescopes they have around tourist attractions. She says “Hey, look at this guy! He’s fantastic.”
Finally (if not seamlessly) we get to see another action bit. This one is brief, showing a skilled skier going down the mountain very quickly, avoiding rocks and other obstacles. Lucy suggests getting him for their team, so NBG skis off to go ask him.
Meanwhile, MacVey notices Alex on skis. “I see you know your way around on skis,” he comments. That’s Alex’s cue to start bumbling around on them. Sir George tries to give him advice for standing on skis, but he stumbles all over as Serena tries to haul him up. You really feel sorry for Ms. Belafonte here. Daylight come and me wanna throw up.
Eventually, Alex slides down a hill. Cue a stunt sequence. This one is comical and well, dumb, but it can’t be denied that it took considerable skill on the part of the stunt skier to pull it off. He basically had to ski down the side of a mountain, evading rocks, people, but hitting minor things such as barrier tape, all the while appearing to be out of control. Which, for the most part, he does. This can’t have been easy, skiing down dangerous terrain while dressed like Elton John circa 1975 and acting “wacky” at the same time.
Some highlights of this zany sequence: you’ll spot a few instances where “Alex” is moving slow enough to fall and stop his descent, and in fact he does fall at least once, but gets back up while still in motion. Occasionally, and like all stunts in this movie, they cut for a close up of the person who’s supposed to be the one doing the stunt, and the backgrounds (particularly the skies) don’t match up.
Meanwhile, NBG arrives with the skier they spotted earlier, who has agreed to be on their team. I think here director Bogner was trying the Ridley Scott Alien technique of never quite giving us a good look at the monster, because we never get a look at John. He skies up and the camera immediately pans over to put him out of frame. MacVey then tells him that Alex is out of control, and asks John to get him. An orange and yellow blur says “Yes sir,” and goes off after Alex. In the meantime, Lucy and Dudley have gone down another, presumably safer route to try and catch him.
Meanwhile because this madcap sequence hasn’t gone on nearly long enough, Alex blunders through other people on the hill. We get a few shots of extras flapping their lips. Things like “He’s crazy” have been badly dubbed in, making you wonder what Godzilla movie had everybody’s favorite atomic lizard stomping around the Alps.
Alex next crashes through a carpet or large towel. It seems that a clothesline has been strung across the ski slope, and things are hanging there to dry. Surrrrrrrrrre. Next he slides into a garage, through a window (which is off the ground), and through a circle of skiing novices, who had been standing in a circle. As Alex goes through them, they come crashing down like dominoes. Ha ha, stop. You’re killing me. No, I mean it. You’re killing me. Just shoot me through the head and put me out of my misery. The last one to fall crashes on top of a woman, who slaps him. Because you know like, because a man and a woman were within three feet of each other, the director now feels free to speculate that this might involve SEX somehow. Well, for people who have evolved beyond laughing at The Family Circus and have moved up to laughing at the word “bum,” this might work.
But wait, there’s still more! Next Alex crashes through a patio, taking the head off a champagne bottle so that the server can pour it (the yuks never stop!) he then crashes bar-room brawl style down a table and over a railing. John has caught up to him by this point, and also crashes through the area to catch up with him (you’d think he would have taken an alternate route).
Alex catches up to a paraglider and grabs on. Now, the two are lifted into the air. As Alex hangs on, the paraglider’s pants begin to fall down (they’re on a roll folks!). Finally, Alex drops into a bus (an open roof bus, in a snow-covered country), where he is immediately asked for fare.
“I’ve just dropped in actually,” Alex says. The driver immediately floors it, drives the bus over a cliff, and it explodes with a tremendous fireball below. Wait, I imagined that part.
Alex stumbles off the bus, and does a pratfall into the snow. Uh guys, this is not going to get funny, not in this universe. Give up. Let it go. Dudley and Lucy arrive, though there is no sign of John. Alex begins spazzing out over what just happened. He wins no audience sympathy, as we had to endure it as well.
“You were supposed to wait for us,” says Lucy, proving that raising relevant points in conversation will not be her specialty. Alex barks “Are you trying to be funny?” Dudley accurately says “Nobody’s laughing Alex.” Give the man a cigar.
“I’ve just experienced the worst day of my entire life,” sputters Alex, even though it looks to be about noon. That sequence only lasted a few minutes, but I can’t blame him for saying “day.” It felt that long to me too. Alex cries “I watched my entire life pass before my eyesâ€¦TWICE!” That’s supposed to be comic, but ends up being horrific. Alex’s scenes have already been excruciating, imagine what sitting through two lifetimes worth must be like? Hell, I became ill just going through the skiing sequence again for this reviewâ€¦
A car horn honks. “It’s MacVey,” cries Lucy, apparently surprised that he got down here so fast too. Though Alex swears he is out, he is seemingly lured back in by the fact that MacVey has his favorite champagne. They all drive off, leaving what must be a few hundred dollars worth of skis behind, and they don’t seem to be real concerned about John, who should be around here someplace. They don’t wait for him to show, or mention him. How rude.
Now that we’ve had a “comic relief” scene, we go to our villains forâ€¦another “comic relief” scene. In need of a team for the Megathon, the DeBris have apparently enlisted the help of the staff of their mansion. Viktor and Magda must have some money if they can afford a mansion, staff, and military surplus (seen later). Fortunately, they don’t do the logical thing and hire pro athletes so we can have this help me wonderfully comic please help me interlude.
They are going to attempt paragliding. In addition to bro and sis, the butler is here, as is a portly looking chef (still dressed in his chef attire, naturally), a nondescript guy, and so is a younger guy who looks like he should be selling newspapers on the corner of some street in 1930’s Brooklyn. No, I didn’t imagine this part.
Viktor declares that they shall be “champions for the Megathon.” Nondescript guy mouths something while a disembodied voice says “Oh great.”
“To uphold the honor of the DeBris,” continues Viktor. At this, Butler begins laughing. This is the only time laughter will be associated with this scene.
So, they are to make a “controlled descent” into the valley “I trust you’ll lead us, sire,” says Butler. For some reason the staff refers to Viktor as “sire” or “master.” I don’t even wanna talk about it.
Off they go, gliding briefly on their skis until the chutes open, carrying them up into the wild blue yonder with results that would be predictable, if they weren’t so idiotic. Chef crashes into a tree. Nondescript Guy apparently flies several thousand miles of course to a lake with no snow or ice in sight, where a woman in a swim suit is lying on a windsurfer (?). He crashes on top of her. This can’t be in the same place, because the very next shot is Viktor over what is clearly terrain covered in deep snow. He falls out of his parachute, on to a ski-jump slope. OH THANK GOD! ANOTHER OUT OF CONTROL SKIER SCENE! The fates are merciful this time, and this one isn’t too long. Viktor shoots off the ramp and lands in a snow bank. For some reason, there are small explosions around him. I guess he was carrying some very weak charges with him. Good thinking, Viktor.
Paperboy crashes into a house, and then a tub with a nude (strategically covered) young woman and paperboy falls out of the house and then slides down hill. Eventually, this too takes to the air, tub, woman and all. Beavis and Butthead, watching the movie, determine that this humor is too immature for their tastes and switch channels.
Finally, Magda is thrown a mere hundred miles or so off course, and hovers over a cemetery where a burial is in progress. At the wrong speed and wrong angle, she crashes into the grave. The priest makes the sign of the cross. Still, I must say that here in this cemetery, this is the closest this movie gets to a “plot” (Okay, sorry, that was a groaner).
The scene thankfully ends, and we get another scene inside a boardroom. A young exec is reporting to his American boss (you can tell because he’s wearing a tacky golf outfit that’s he’s supposed to be a Yank) that they will have to write off the $1, 250, 000 Sir George owes them.
“Do you like your job?” says Important Yet Tackily Dressed Business Guy With Dubbed American Accent menacingly. At this, exec reports that there might be a way to get their money back, and “10 times more.” He briefly outlines the Megathon, and that the prize is $135 mil. Personally, I’d fire him anyway for not being able to tell that $135 million is substantially more than “10 times” $1, 250, 000.
IYTDBGWDAA seems to think it’s not even worth discussing and orders his people to get pro athletes before the other companies do. He seems to know a lot more about the Megathon than the young executive told him. We then get a montage of various office buildings and conversations in different languages, indicating that the companies who are owed money are going to pick up the gauntlet Georgie has thrown down.
But let’s look at the logistical and political realities here. These are large corporations (as we’ll soon see), some of them must be worth literally billions worldwide. The one we’ve just seen is out $1,250,000, thanks to Sir George. If that’s an average figure, would say, IBM hire and equip a team of pro athletes (which would probably run their costs up another million at least), subject them to potentially lethal events which the athletes can’t prepare for until an hour before their start, all for a slim chance at a prize of even $135 million? How would it look to the company image if someone died during one of these events? Doesn’t the potential risk far outweigh potential gain? Wouldn’t it be far more likely for them to just break out their big legal guns and get their money back in court? Or just to write off their losses entirely?
Anyway, never mind all this. I’m sure you’re all desperate to know what’s going on with Alex. We catch up to him figure skating (oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that particular stereotype, thanks for reminding us guys). Alex is also wearing scuba gear. Serena appears, and is apparently to act as his coach. She asks him what he’s doing with the gear. He tells her it’s a badly written-in device that will help with a series of anti-funny comic moments later–I mean, a precaution in case he falls through the ice.
Serena tells him that figure skating is out. He’ll be racing, so he needs to speed skate. “How terribly boring,” he says. Hey Alex, summarizing the scene is my job! Your job is stunts. STUNTS, people. Never mind this crap. Show us COOL STUNTS. CAPICHE?
Serena insists on speed skating. Well, if they’re going to speed skate, perhaps they should be wearing speed skates. Neither one is. Strangely, Alex isn’t even wearing figure skates, but hockey skates. By the way, being a Canadian whose confirmed religion is hockey, I can tell you that no way does this guy spend enough time on skates to be an athlete in any kind of sport that requires skating ability. His ankles wobble like jello. Even a person who just goes to the local rink to skate in circles a few times each winter has better ankle strength than Alex. Actual athletes have ankles like tree trunks.
As a coach, Serena says he could have done a lot worse. “Really,” he says bitchily, “I didn’t know Attila the Hun was available.” Ha ha ha. Attila the Hun and his hordes sweeping across the icy plains, slaughtering all the bad actors in their pathâ€¦blood staining the pristine white banksâ€¦ Sorry, where was I?
Serena decides to play “hardball,” and with a blow of her whistle, a woman in a black speed-skating suit (and not wearing speed skates either) appears. “What is that?” cries Alex. Serena explains that this is Holga, who has been told that “if she catches you, she can have you.” Alex behaves as though Holga was a cenobite from Hellraiser or something. And while not what most people would call a knock-out beauty, there isn’t really anything wrong with her. I guess we are supposed to conclude that since Alex is playing for the other team, physical contact with a woman would cause him to burst into flames or something.
Alex is given a “30 second” head start. After shrieking like Curly of The Three Stooges and skating weakly away for about five seconds, Serena nods at Holga, who takes off in pursuit. Holga can skate, although she isn’t skating very fast, probably because anyone reasonably proficient at skating would run down Alex like a semi.
This “skating” sequence doesn’t last very long, as Alex jumps off the track, over to an exposed bit of the river, and dives in. He surfaces at a curling rink, where a thrown rock forces him back under. We get an exaggerated “Huh” from the curler.
Next cut to what looks like some kind of event registration area. Megathon personnel are fielding calls and inquires from people milling about. A suited guy is asking Serena for maps of the courses, descriptions of the events, and a list of the disciplines required. Perfectly sensible. It is now that Serena imparts that no-one will be told about the events until one hour before they begin.
Even the best athletes in the world need to know what they’re racing against. Their sponsors need to know what kind of equipment to give their team. Hell, they need to know if they’ve even got the right kind of team. And when we see what the first event actually is, only the script would prevent real athletes from flipping the ol’ one finger salute at the Megathon and walking away, 135 million or no. Suited Guy tells Serena that it’s “ridiculous” (Oh yeah) but Serena responds “Those are the rules.”
Meanwhile, another suited guy asks if they can put logos and banners of their company along the courses, which they are allowed to do. Of course, they’ll have just one hour to arrange this I guess, so they’d better be quick about it.
Back outside, Alex is still tooling around in the waterâ€¦uh, wait a minute, then how the hell did Serena get inside so fast? Alex surfaces in the middle of a horse race. A calvary charge sounds as he surfaces. Although Alex has pushed up a man shaped hole in the ice, it is too thick for a human being to push through, and not nearly thick enough to support a dozen horses with riders charging across it.
And now, a scene more pointless than most. Dudley is flying a helicopter, possibly because they rented it and wanted to get as much use out of it as possible. The DeBris are nearby, and spy him through binoculars. “He’s dishy!” remarks Magda. “Dead dishy,” says Viktor, readying a bazooka. I don’t think the words “dead” and “dishy” have been put together like this before or since.
“Oh,” emotes Magda, “life can be so cruel sometimes!” Not life, this movie can be cruel! STUNTS, people! Skip the comedy, and get on some skis and leap of some cliffs before I go postal!
Viktor lines up the copter in his sights, tries to fire, but it doesn’t go off. After a bit of jostling and muttering, it finally goes off, and blows up a jeep. Their jeep. Yes, they sacrificed a whole jeep for this scene. Money well spent, I’m sure we can all agree. You’d think that Dudley would notice the explosion, but the subject is never brought up.
Pointless scene #45: Serena and Alex in a weight room. Alex can’t lift even the smallest weights, which probably way about 10 pounds. “I’m calling it a day,” says Alex, running off in a huff. You’re calling it a day, and I can’t print what I’m calling it.
Cut back to the registration area where Sabrina and Giovanni (lugging two giant inflatable bananas) are registering for the Megathon. We learn that Giovanni is going to do all the events himself (Oh, Arrivederci Roma), even though they are warned that highly specialized skills are required for the events. Sabrina boasts “My Giovanni can do anything.” Even more perplexing is the fact that Chiquita Banana will sponsor him in this endeavor. While perhaps not the international giant that say, Coca Cola is, Chiquita is not a small company and you’d think they’d could afford and in fact would want better representation than this if they’ve decided to participate. Perhaps somebody at Chiquita really wants to see Giovanni dead.
In our next scene, we see thatâ€¦uh, hold on. Let me remove all breakables and sharp instruments from the room for my own safety before continuing.
Ok. Viktor is “training” his staff again. This time, he and Magda are sharing a pair of skis, one facing forward, one facing backward. Apparently one ski is downhill, the other cross country (don’t ask, just nod your head, smile dumbly). Meanwhile, the four servants are all attached to one set of skis, but they are all facing forward. Viktor says that this is their last chance to be part of the Megathon. Well, off they go, and in a thankfully brief bit, they ski around a bit, then fall down.
Viktor yells at them and tell them they’ve blown their last chance, for which the staff enthusiastically thank him. Okay, settle down guys, he didn’t say your were out of the movie, just the race. Anyway, Viktor and Magda determine that the only way to get in now would be to find another team, and join them.
So, in the next scene, they are watching Brother Quatar coach some of his brethren, who are hang-gliding. He’s saying things like “Concentrate brothers” and “feel the wind.” He then begins to hum a mantra, literally “Hum.” Magda and Viktor appear, dressed like his order. Basically, shaved heads and beige robes. They begun humming along until Quatar turns and demands why they’re humming. Well, you started it buddy.
Magda says “We desire to join your team, oh great guru.” Quatar says they have a team and shoos them away. He turns away to watch his team, and then Viktor pulls out some kind of remote control. With one press, the wing of one hang glider detonates. He presses another, and then jets of smoke come out of another and begins making a sound like a Hawker Hurricane that’s been shot down. I’m not sure how Viktor did all by pressing two buttons. Hang gliders are very basic things, they don’t have engines and shouldn’t be making noises like that, and they don’t really have a lot of room to hide bombs on them.
Anyway, seeing one guy crash into a tree, Quatar says “Poor brother Boris.” He could go over to see that they’re ok. He could determine whether the pilots are still able to compete. He could ask why Magda was laughing like a maniac loudly and openly while the hang gliders were spiraling out of control. He could ask if Viktor and Magda actually have any athletic skills. Instead, he turns around and welcomes them to the team.
And now, it’s finally time for the Megathon to get underway. We start with an Olympics-style opening ceremony, commented on by Dan Selby (Majore Gortner). Selby describes this as “sheer spectacle” and “the race of the century.” Yeah, never mind those bush league Olympic games, right? Gortner actually does an okay job here, at least sounding like a sportscaster. I just wished he wasn’t so easily impressed, often using the phrase “the most incredible [fill in the blank] I’ve ever seen.”
Hey, did you think that the product placements in Wayne’s World and Mystery Men, although played for laughs, was still pretty sleazy? Well check this out. It’s time to meet the teams. Remember, with the exception of the Fire and Ice and Guru team, all the teams are companies Sir George owes money to. And they are all real world companies. Most of them won’t be familiar to North American audiences, but some of the larger ones will. So naturally, the teams march in, all decked out in corporate logos, complete with floats based on their products. What’s more, Dan Selby will occasionally introduce the company by rattling of the strength of their team, such as superior technology (and thereby helping plug the company’s products). Basically, we’re now watching the portion of the movie that paid the bills. And you thought watching ten minutes of commercials before seeing a movie was bad.
Even weirder in this sequence is the “celebrity” cameos. Many teams are “represented” by athletes or former athletes. They name Olympic champions, Grand Prix winners, America’s Cup champions, and so on. They show a shot of these people, and although I don’t recognize any of them, they are played by the real athletes who have lots of trophies and medals back home. You can picture these people coaching or representing a sports team in real life. You can also see the filmmakers wanting them to lend a little credibility to the sporting nature of the flick. However, some teams are not represented by people I do recognize, and you will too, much to your dismay.
Here are the teams, in order of introduction.
* The Volkswagen GTIs: lead by a German speed-skater. Curiously, all the cars we see in this movie seem to originate from one car-maker. Can you guess which one?
* Adidas Dynamics: lead by something Olympic medallist or other. They don’t actually specify what event this person won. What if it was Volleyball?
* Milka Cowboys: This is a famous candy maker in Europe. They enter dragging a float consisting of a purple spotted cow that moos occasionally (no, thankfully it’s not a real painted cow). Supporters in the crowd indicate their allegiance by ringing large cowbells. Milka doesn’t seem to have any athlete or celebrity leading them. Or perhaps the cow is their leader.
* Bayer Scientists: Here’s where things really get silly. This is of course Bayer as in “Bayer Aspirin.” They come on to the field with a hatchback that has plastic globes on its roof filled with multi-coloured “chemicals.” ‘Cause they’re scientists, get it? Just ask Liz of And You Call Yourself A Scientist! Liz’s Essential Movie Reviews. She’ll tell you. The Bayer Scientists are lead by the obvious choice–American astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Yes, it’s really him, waving and smiling. I guess this will prompt us to create the Embarrassed Astronaut SeriesTM. Ooohkayâ€¦let’s be generous here and say that although Buzz isn’t an athlete, he does represent the pioneering spirit associated with the space program and science. You’ll forget all about poor Buzz when you see who else the cat dragged in.
* Chiquita Banana: Sabrina and Gio dance on to the field. Selby says Gio is the only athlete representing Chiquita. He’ll be relying on his “strength as a man, and his bananas.” (A beautiful bunch of ripe banana! Daylight come and me wan’ go home Sorry, sorry). I think once again the use of “bananas” is meant to be a double entendre, but–damn this movie for making me say this–if it is a double entendre, shouldn’t it just be the singular “banana” because, ya know, men like, uhmâ€¦one per customer and everythingâ€¦
* Kamei Tuners: Some auto parts company I guess. Lead by a champion race car driver.
* Bogner Beauties: The all-female team. I’m not sure, but this may be a cosmetics company. Either that, or it’s a bone thrown to the director’s ego. Because they’re not just athletes, they’re all babes too! And in fact, they’re lead by a model whose name I can’t catch, but she’s “one of the most beautiful women in the world.” Which of course, perfectly qualifies her to represent a team of athletes. “Hey guys, you’d better check out the opposition on this one,” non-sequiturs Selby.
* Grundig Hiteks: This would appear to be a European version of Sony. They intend to use “the power of sound, music, and multimedia communications” to win, according to Selby. Uh huh. Go ask any losing athlete in any sport the world over, and ask why they lost. They’ll tell you “because the other guy used the power of sound, music and multimedia communications, and I didn’t,” before bursting into tears. The Hiteks are lead byâ€¦Isaac Hayes. Yep. The singer of the Shaft theme, well before his South Park days. I guess his experience here was useful when coaching the South Park Cows in their dodgeball championship seasonâ€¦
* Guru Saints: Brother Quatar’s team. They are promising to turn the Megathon estate into a “centre for meditation” (way ahead of you, I’m already slipping into a coma here) and that they will use “secret supernatural power to prove they can win.”
* Mistral: Couldn’t make out their team name. Lead by an America’s Cup winner. Boring team. But then, just about anything after Isaac Hayes and the Guru team would’ve been a let down.
* Fire and Ice: Our “heroes.” These would be the “only amateurs” in the competition (which seems a little unfair). They march in behind a flame-belching snowman. Aha! My Nut o’ Fun! At last I’ve found you! Cue music! Why do birds suddenly appearâ€¦ Sadly, it’s there only too briefly. We learn that Fire and Ice also has a windsurfing champion (who will prove absolutely useless, since there is no windsurfing), a freestyle champion (that would be John, who apparently is an accomplished athlete in real life), and some climbing champion named “Stefan.” Fire and Ice are dressed in a lovely pink and orange uniform.
* Club Med Tridents: And who else would be leading Club Med butâ€¦singer Jennifer Rush! I actually looked up a Jennifer Rush fansite, and it seems she is still popular in Germany. This would probably also explain the appearance of Isaac Hayes. Perhaps he was popular in Germany before South Park revived his career in North America. Gee, maybe we’ll see a team lead by David Hasslehoff as well. Jennifer a real trooper, standing up and waving, barely betraying a look of “I can’t believe it’s come down to this.”
* Paul Aner Breweries: They actually go by another name that I couldn’t make out, however Paul Aner logos are all over this movie. My VCR spat one out at one point. This team consists of a guys dressed for Oktoberfest, all porting big steins.
* AEG Innovators: they will be “applying their technology to the Megathon.” Yawn. They’re lead by another racing driver.
All sports have corporate sponsorship and that means seeing a logo on a uniform, a car, the playing field, etc. So naturally these athletes seen here will be wearing uniforms with logos prominently displayed. Chiquita and the Brewers will go even further though–Gio will used banana-shaped equipment, and the Brewers will remain dressed in their Oktoberfest gear. This is utterly impractical and even dangerous for the sports they’re engaging in (the Milka cowboys have big horns on their helmets). But hey, they remain in costume, and therefore the corporate logo and image always remains front and centre. One of the most mysterious things about this movie is the way the athletes behave while dressed in their corporate costumes, looking like weird superheroes. Milka apparently had no problem with looking as though they assembled a team that wears improper safety equipment, just so they could stay in costume while performing a potentially crippling or fatal activity. Apparently, European companies are not as image sensitive as their North American counterparts.
With the introduction of the teams out of the way, the plot begins to remind me a lot of Scooby’s All-Star-Laff-a-Lympics (1978). Anyone remember that one? The Hanna-Barbera gang were all divided into sports teams–the Scooby Doobies, the Yogi Yahooies, and all the bad guys were on the Really Rottens. They tried to outdo each other in various silly events. That show is historically important because it was the first two hour Saturday morning cartoon, and also it’s one of the first cartoons where I saw the bad guys win in an episode. You see, at the end of one it looked like Yogi’s team had won the race, but the instant replay showed that one of the Really Rottens had actually been pushed over the finish line by that giant waveâ€¦
Uhm, sorry. Guess I got a little off topic there. Can you blame me?
Ok, there’s a big screen nearby, which begins displaying a message from Sir George. “The greatest race on Earth for the greatest prize in history” he proclaims again. Hey, I can pessimistic, but if someday the human race goes the way of the dodo, I really hope some alien species reviewing our civilization doesn’t look through it and say “the greatest prize in their history was 135 million dollars.”
Meanwhile, Viktor picks up a snowball and throws it at one of the Brewers. Brewer guy retaliates. Well, soon one thing leads to another and soon the snow is flying everywhere, and people begin getting in extremely weak brawls. Actually, come to think of it, one thing did not lead to another. There was no steady build up. Brewer threw his snowball, and suddenly everyone was rumbling. Oh well. Meanwhile, Sir George blathers on about “the spirit of friendship” and the “true spirit of sportsmanship.” You can cut the irony with a chainsaw. “Honor, integrity, friendship and fair play” are also mentioned. Then, Sir George begins to announce the location of the first event. They all settle down at that. The first event will be held in “Andorraâ€¦in the Pyrenees.”
All righty! The Principality of Andorra is located in the Pyrenees, a mountain range along the border of France and Spain. Assuming they’re still in Switzerland, they’ve got one hour to fly over there, set up their banners, review the race course and equip their teams. Good luck everybody!
At that announcement, we cut to a rocky mountainside, presumably in the Pyrenees. Selby is making the first of a series of “This is the most incredible race I’ve ever seen” remarks. Competitors are lined up, ready to race. Some are wearing skis. One guy is wearing something that looks like roller blades, except that they have what look like mini tank treads instead of rollers. Some have snowboards, or even sleds.
This mountainside does not have an inch of snow. Actually, the only traces of white are on uniforms, that’s all. The competitors are going to slide down on rock and dirt. Well, the Bayer guy does have skis that squirt some kind of white substance attached to them, presumably snow. Gotta hand to the Bayer guys to invent something like this in under an hour, minus travel time. Or did they anticipate Sir George might ask them to slide down a mountain with no snow or ice?
As the competitors prepare to go, we see the Brewer competitor take a swig from a bottle of beer. I suppose this is supposed to be comic. Again I have to ask if the company stopped to think about this. What message is this sending? Enjoy our product responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, but drinking and then sliding down a mountain with no snow on a sleigh is just fine.
We can also see for the first time that the Milka guy is wearing horns on his helmet. Hey, that’s safe. The Guru team has a big gold halo attached to their skier’s helmet. Hey, that’s stupid. The competitors are jostling each other. This doesn’t seem to bother Megathon officials, apparently they’re all welcome to interfere in each others’ progress. A gun sounds to begin the race, and down they go.
This actually is pretty cool. You’ve got a bunch of stuntmen and athletes skiing down a surface that’s not meant to be skied on. Watching them do so is eye-popping. There are several wipe-outs, and I’m guessing that not all of them were scripted. Even if they were, they can’t have been too pleasant for the person wiping out. This is what the movie should be showing us. In fact, several years later, Fox would get the idea and began their series of “reality” shows featuring nothing but people trying very hard to get themselves killed in various ways, be it getting shot by cops or eaten by a bear.
Sadly, the scene is framed by a “plot.” And punctuated with “comedy.” Sabrina, for example, has rigged up some kind of banana gun (I wish I were joking) and uses it to fire bananas into the faces of Gio’s competitors. Bananas as weapons. No, they’ll never suspect Chiquita. Let me express my amazement that Chiquita didn’t mind this depiction of their company: hiring one man to compete, and having his wife cheat on their behalf. With their product.
The Brewers seem to have made an odd choice for this race too. They are using an old-fashioned sleigh with three beer barrels strapped on top, and no means of control for the rider. When we see their athlete in fact, he’s more or less running on foot, dragging this thing behind him. Megathon officials apparently don’t believe in disqualification.
Since this isn’t just a random collage of stunts, what we see should make sense in the context of a race, but it doesn’t. John, the Fire and Ice skier (the one we never really get a look at), crosses the finish line first. This is a relay race though. John has a baton, which is handed off to Lucy, who is waiting on a mountain bike for the second part of the race. She should have a head start. Strangely, although F&I seems to be in the lead, the mountain bikers all more or less take off at the same time.
Anyway, the second part of the race. Lucy appears to be in third place, with the Guru biker in the lead. This happens to be Viktor. It’s very hard to tell, because although individual shots of people racing, wiping out, etc., are interesting, you can’t really piece together who’s ahead of who. We just see things like people wiping out (again, whether intentional or not, they had to be hard on the stunt crew). We see things like the Brewer getting launched into a tree for no apparent reason. The AEG guy has a printer attached to his handle bars, which is printing up the message “slow.” He wipes out anyway. I wouldn’t call a printer attached to mountain bike particularly innovative. One guy has somehow managed to get himself on cable car wires and is riding along those (the weight balancing the bike is blatantly obvious). Some old guy looking on and smoking a pipe gape at this, and pulls the pipe out of his mouth, false teeth and all. Ah, Benny Hill lives.
Yet another guy is paragliding, bike and all. I guess the Megathon officials aren’t particularly concerned at how the racers get to the finish line, as long as they get there. I’m surprised the other racers find this equitable though.
MacVey watches Lucy race through some binoculars. Strangely, she hasn’t worked up a sweat. All that hair is still bone dry. Even stranger, she’s wearing a helmet. With that hair, it should be completely unnecessary. That mane of hers should cushion her head from any blow. You could smuggle bricks of marijuana through customs by stashing them in her hair.
At the bottom of the bike trail is a large pond that everyone crashes into. Viktor and Lucy drag their bikes through the water and try to continue the race, as do others. The racers seem to be pulling and pushing each other, and in fact, the Kamei guy dunks Lucy. So, these antics are fully endorsed by Kamei, hmm? I think I’ll buy my auto parts elsewhere.
Alex, spotting this, cries “You can’t do that!” and throws himself on the Kamei guy. Another non-participant interfering. MacVey spies through his binoculars and chuckles, and race officialsâ€¦do nothing. No-one complains about cheating.
The racers struggle out of the mud, then get back on their bikes. Shortly thereafter, they reach the finish line, which is right before a cliff overlooking a large body of water. This provides a convenient excuse to have the cyclists leap off the cliffs, still on their bikes. Nice stuntwork, but kind of silly in the context of a race. When the paraglider touches down, you wonder if there are any restrictions on the race at all. Are the racers allowed to use any and all gadgets? Good thing Boeing isn’t in the competition. Their guy could just get into a plane and fly to the finish line.
A brief bit from a medical station reveals the injuries from the event (“5 fractures, 2 concussions, 29 lacerations requiring sutures, 3 torn ligaments, 1 dislocation and an appendectomy,” according to a nurse. Add to that one headache, from this viewer.
We rejoin everybody at a chalet of some kind. The Fire & Ice team is in third place, the Gurus in first. The F’I guys are pretty pleased about the results, but worry that more horrors–I mean challenges–are ahead. They also worry about more rough stuff, especially towards Alex because he’s “the obvious target.” They tell Alex “They’re going to try to take you out.” Alex responds “Well, if they ask me nicely.” I’m telling you, it’s a good thing there is no Team Village People competing in the Megathon, otherwise Alex’s loyalties would be divided.
Elsewhere, the Gurus are “meditating.” Quatar brings in their reward for winning. This turns out to be water from the upper reaches of the Ganges river, and bread “blessed by the Great Guru himself.” Uh, I thought Quatar was the Great Guru, because that’s how Magda addressed him earlier. Ah well. The DeBris are not to thrilled with the rather aesthete reward. Magda takes a swig from the bottle (which is muddy) and immediately spits it out. This apparently doesn’t blow their cover.
Tragically, we must leave behind the comedy for the second round of the Megathon (all together now–awwwwww). This one starts at a enormous dam. About three-quarters of the way up, a platform has been erected. On the walls of the dam there are grips. Megathon contenders are going to climb to the top in what Dan Selby describes as a “no holds barred” and “free for all” event. It seems strange that Sir George would design such a contest with all his talk of “friendly” competition.
Looking at some of the competitors, we see one of the Bogner Beauties applying lip-gloss. Naturally, experienced athletes and veteran climbers would love to have cosmetics on their hands when they’re about to climb a sheer wall with a lethal drop below them.
The Milka guy is being equally focused–he’s stuffing candies into his mouth. Anyway, enough of the preliminaries. MacVey fires a gun to signal the start, and up they go.
Although most competitors are climbing using grips that have been affixed to the damn, some are using other methods. Someone is using suction cups to climb cat-burglar style for example. Another guy has cordless drills attached to his hands and feet and is digging them into the dam. The Guru team has some guy doing the Indian rope trick (oh brother). For some reason these brothers have hair, even though all other members have their heads shaved.
As the race goes on, more questionable shenanigans break out. This whole method of ascent, for one. There seem to be no restrictions on how they get up that wall. Everybody’s lucky that there isn’t a team participating that can design a jetpack or something. The premise of any sport is that equal tools necessary to play the sport are available to both teams. The tasks of the sport are the same for both teams. The difference–and the deciding factor–is the physical prowess and/or strategic cunning of the participating teams. The Megathon seems to allow all the resource available to a company to be used. So I guess that if the Megathon were decided by a series of soccer matches, a sports team that designed a soccer net that had a goal mouth one foot square that was covered by a steel plate would be allowed to use it.
Then, we get the conduct of the employees. The first thing we spot is a one of the Brewers on the platform, climber’s safety line in one hand, bottle of beer in the other. Yep, he takes a drink. Enjoy our product responsibly, don’t drink and drive. But drinking and holding on to a safety line that prevent your partner from being turned into tomato paste 200 feet below is okay.
It gets better. We watch the Club Med guy swing over and cut the line the Brewer is using to climb! Fortunately his partner isn’t soused yet, as the safety line prevents him from falling very far. Did Club Med really have no problem showing one of their representatives doing this? This is beyond disqualification. This is criminal charges time.
Not to be outdone, the Grundig guy yanks on the rope of the VW guy, causing him to fall. A well-placed banana peel from Giovanni causes another fall (both stopped by safety lines). The Bayer guy sprays glue all over a climbing grip to freezes up the Kamei climber.
But they’re all wearing corporate colours, so I guess they all have the support of their sponsor. Think about that the next time you’re about to buy something. I’m thinking about boycotting the lot of them. All right, I know it’s only a movie. I just can’t get over the fact that the companies didn’t care about how their representatives were being portrayed. If you owned a brewery, would you sponsor a movie that showed people drinking your product just before they were about to risk their lives in the name of a sport? The film even has a villainous element in a non-corporate team with members that would be more than happy to pick up the underhanded tactics burden, but Viktor’s cheating isn’t much worse, than say, Club Med’s.
Anyway, speaking of Viktor, he’s up at the top, and has planted an explosive inside a camera lens. Under the pretext of taking a picture, he gets Lucy to move out of the way (who had been standing there jumping up and down as if she needed a peepee break). Viktor leans over the ledge and over Stefan, the Fire & Ice climber, then drops the lens. He misses, but this causes a big explosion below. Stefan and Lucy, looking on, look mildly puzzled. Lucy is standing right next to Viktor when this happens, proving that detective work won’t be her specialty.
Geez, the Megathon organizers turn more blind eyes than the officials at the World Wresting Federation. Nothing is done to investigate this.
Magda ties some kind of rope around Viktor’s ankles to make sure he’s “secure.” It looks a lot like a rope someone trying to escape from the third floor of a prison might make. Then–it’s never made clear how–Viktor falls over the dam. It happened because it looks cool. Fortunately for Viktor, the rope has turned into a bungie cord, preventing his legs from being ripped from their sockets (eww, there’s a yummy visual picture). You know, I’m pretty certain that James Bond would do this very jump at this very dam several years later in Golden Eye. Anyone owning a copy of that movie want to check out FI&D and find out?
Stefan is the first to the top, so Lucy takes his baton to the next part of the race. Actually, she jogs. I think if $135 million were on the line, I’d move with a little more urgency.
Other teams reach the top. The Guru climber hands his to another brother, who begins floating along cross legged (he’s obviously being pulled along on whatever he’s sitting on). The AEG guys have attached their baton to a remote controlled helicopter. If I were competing and I saw this, I’d just get into a car and drive to the next part of the race.
Some shoddy editing leads to a truly bizarre moment. We see Lucy jogging along (she has fallen behind a few other runners, so maybe she stopped for that peepee break). We then see Alex leaning against a wall, and then there’s an explosion in a tunnel next to Alex (if you’re confused, then I’m successfully describing what this sequence is like). Alex then hands what appears to be a hand-held radio off to someone else. The Brewer runner comes out hauling two competitors. Awfully nice of him considering what’s been done to his team. He must be a friendly drunk (ok, that was nasty. We haven’t seen him touch a beerâ€¦yet). More runners come out of the tunnel, smudged and blackened by the explosion, but unharmed.
Having watched this a few times now, I think this is meant to signify that the AEG remote controlled helicopter blew up. How or why is left to our imaginations. I can only speculate that it was carrying a pound of charcoal as well, hence the black dust on everyone.
The VW guy putters along on a motorized skateboard (see above comment about equal grounds for all competitors). Alex has somehow got the baton. He runs to a bridge. Below are several kayakers waiting to receive their baton for the final portion of this race. Alex hands it off to a teammate (don’t ask me who). The F&I man leaps over the side, and bungie jumps down to Dudley in a kayak, handing him the baton.
This is all put together extremely well. Well-deserved kudos to the stunt teams for their work in this otherwise failing endeavor. For the next little while, we’ll watch nifty ways the companies use to get down there. Some bungie jump like F&I (the cord is long enough to dunk them in the water, and there are kayaks and other competitors down there to give you an idea of how dangerous this is). Gio descends via inflatable bananas (Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana! Daylight come and me wan’ go home! Okay, that was the last time, I swear), to a banana-shaped craft. One guy parachutes down, and appears to hit a smaller bridge on the way down. This must have hurt the stuntman. Another guy parachutes down while in a kayak. The Brewer repels down (not before having a swig of beer). Some other team uses a tiny parachute attached to their baton to make the relay. The Guru guy just descends from the sky and hands it off. This time he actually appears to be floating in mid air.
Wow, this all looked pretty cool. Taken on its own, individually, what a great set of stunts. Oh but wait, this troublesome plot thing keeps rearing its ugly head. Since they didn’t have to do anything in particular to get down to the river, just get the baton down there somehow, why not just drop it over the side? I’m telling you, plot and characters, they were a mistakeâ€¦
The next leg of the race is a kayak run to the final finish line. This is pretty cool too, though not quite as cool as the skiing we saw earlier. There are more weird choices of equipment–the Adidas guy is wearing pontoons on his feet, and the Brewer is floating in a barrel. At the sight of the first set of rapids he ducks down and seals himself in the barrel. That’s wise.
Gio sees the rapids and panics. He actually gets out and walks most of the way. Well if the judges are going to let that go, maybe he should hail a cab.
At one point, the contestants are actually required to get out of their kayaks, drag them over some rocks, then jump back in the water. Some chose to slide back in, as if they were on sleighs. Watching them drop back into the water (and the Adidas guy, who “skis” into the water on his pontoons) will actually make you wince. Their falls do not look very pleasant. At this point, I really began to get angry at the filmmakers. If you’re going to beat the hell out of your stunt people, then at least have the courtesy to put their work in a good movie.
Dudley seems to be moving on at a fair clip, but he falls afoul of the DeBris. Up on a rock overlooking the river, the butler has a small boulder ready. Viktor tells him to throw the rock “When I give the word.” Magda asks, “What word?” Viktor says “You knowâ€¦the word.” Protesting, Magda says “We have to know what word, brother dear.” Hey, I’ve got a few words for you guys. Here are the ones Ken will let me print: GET ON WITH IT. THROW THE ROCK AND GET BACK TO THE STUNTS.
Fortunately, the butler does, and it hits Dudley’s kayak. Dudley capsizes. This looks to be no big deal. It’s a minor wipeout. Instead of righting himself and continuing the race, Dudley swims away from the kayak, as though it were damaged, or if he were injured.
Elsewhere, we see Gio, still on foot, passing a woman sunbathing on a rock. He glances at her momentarily, but the scene immediately ends before anything funny can happen. Which is all for the best, because at this point I willing to bet had they continued with the scene, it wouldn’t have been funny anyway.
Meanwhile, competitors are starting to cross the finish line. The Brewer opens up the hatch, revealing that he’s covered in suds. Since he gives out a loud belch, I guess they’re beer suds. Enjoy our product responsibly. Don’t drink and drive. But sealing yourself in a barrel of our product and riding in it down stream is just fine.
Dudley is hauled in by life preserver. I mean, no kidding. That rock hit his kayak hard enough to scratch it. Maybe we should have paramedics on scene too.
Trying to determine the cause of the accident, Dudley claims “the sky fell on me.” Lucy says “Oh come on,” and then Dudley more accurately says “It was a rock.”
Alex asks “Who’d want to do something like that?” Two things: considering that everyone in this contest has been behaving pretty badly, I don’t know why they’re so stunned. Secondly, listen you bozos, somebody threw a bloody explosive charge at one of your other teammates (who hasn’t been mentioned since). Who cares about a damn rock?
Dudley answers Alex’s question with “Someone with 135 million good reasons, that’s who,” and no kidding. But hey, why lodge a complaint with the officials, wherever they are?
We learn that thanks to this, Fire & Ice drops back into 10th place. “You really let us down,” says Lucy. What? Someone else’s deliberate sabotage is his fault? I guess Lucy realizes what the audience realizes–that the rock shouldn’t have done any serious damage to Dudley. If it had hit him on the head, yes, but it hit his kayak.
Amazingly, Dudley acknowledges this, and stomps off.
Cut to some chateau or other. Serena and Lucy are sitting at a bar dejectedly. Elsewhere, Alex and Dudley are alone, gloomily staring at their drinks. Other Megathon team members are sitting around, including Viktor and Magda, who are watching them while munching on some chicken.
Lucy says “I shouldn’t have said those things to Dudley.” Yep. Serena says “Yeah, well, he had it coming.” Uh, nope. “It’s Alex I’m worried about.” Really? Why? I think Alex is supposed to be the weak link in the group, the one with few athletic abilities. But then, we spend so little time on character development we don’t know if any of the three kids have athletic abilities. It’s just that come race time, there they are, racing. Since we don’t know what Alex is supposed to do, it’s hard to get worked up over whether or not he can do it.
The butler, who kinda looks like John Lennon now that I’m bored enough to think about it, appears at the window near the DeBris’ table. He informs Viktor that he has more dynamite in the car, and has bought “the very latest radio detonator,” which looks a lot like a detonator we’ve seen Viktor use earlier. Anywayâ€¦
The butler disappears, but along comes Brother Quatar, catching them eating chicken. “What decadence is this, brothers?” he demands. Hey, is his order supposed to be vegetarian? Doesn’t this kinda give it all away?
“We were just redistributing morsels to the poor,” they claim, tossing the script, I mean the chicken, out the window. “Gluttony is forbidden,” growls Quatar, and then he grabs the detonator. “And thisâ€¦decadence and discord!” He throws it down, and jumps on it. It the distance, we hear an explosion and a comic cry from the butler. We don’t see this, just a suspiciously small dust cloud through the window. Hey, they already blew up a jeep, I guess they couldn’t afford to write off another vehicle. And gosh, it was really smart to wire up the dynamite to explode while it was still in their car, wasn’t it?
Whoever this Great Guru is, he apparently manifests himself to his flowers in the form of dust clouds and cries of pain as Brother Quatar says “You see? The Great Guru has spoken.” I’ll skip the two “funny” lines that follow.
Back at the bar, frustrated Lucy says “I can’t just sit here. Gotta do something.” Serena suggests talking to them. Lucy says “I’ve got a better idea.”
When I saw this in the theater (during one very boring summer), I swear I anticipated this move. Upon the words “I’ve got a better idea” I immediately affected a Michael Palin accent and said “Right, stop that! Stop that! You’re not going to do a song while I’m ‘ere.” I got more laughs from the audience than the movie did (admittedly, not much of a claim). Sadly my cries were for naught, as Lucy launches into song.
Naturally, the band is all ready for her approach, even though there was no indication that they knew Lucy or her music before. The song is called “We Can Win It All” and is about the team being down, but not giving up, etc., etc. I think reviewing Can’t Stop the Music really damaged my music appreciation abilities, so I don’t think the song is atrocious, merely utterly mediocre. Keep in mind though that I had to sit through “Milkshake” from CSTM, and after that one even Michael Bolton couldn’t get on my nerves.
However, the song is good enough for Alex and Dudley, who are soon smiling and rejoining their team. In fact, the whole room is soon dancing. Connie DeGroot, the actress–I mean, person who plays Lucy, is actually credited with the vocals for this song. She doesn’t look like she’s enjoying herself all that much though (try seeing things from this end, Lucy).
Let’s see, we’ve got some of the best athletes and bust stunt people in the business, so let’s doâ€¦a musical number! Oh man, why did they do this? For the 80th time, stunts, people, stunts! Shouldn’t you all be jumping off a cliff or something? And if they absolutely had to do a song, why not get someone with a better track record? They had Isaac Hayes, why didn’t they get him to sing a song? Or how about Jennifer Rush? Why not get her to sing a song? Oh hell, why not even let Buzz Aldrin sing a song?
The song improbably has the whole room dancing and smiling, so I guess Lucy has not only inspired her team, but everyone else’s too. Way to go Lucy.
The DeBris meanwhile corner Alex, and try to scare him. They say that he is participating in the “Kamikaze Run.” Alex and the other competitors will be racing down a bob sled run on skates. Since they know this, I guess this means that there’s under and hour to go before this event starts. Shouldn’t they be getting ready instead of dancing and partying?
Anyway, some time later, we’re looking at a snow-covered mountain. Dan Selby announces that this, like the other races, is “the most incredible one I’ve ever seen.” This is the last race of the Megathon.
Since F&I is in 10th place, I’m trying to figure out the scoring in the Megathon. There are a total of seven events, stretched over three races. I’m assuming that it is possible to fall so far behind in the standings that you can no longer win. At what point is that? Why do we seem to have the same number of competing teams? How is that a team in tenth place can “win it all” (as Lucy sang) in the final race? I’m not saying it’s totally impossible, but we haven’t been given any idea of how these standings work, which we need if we have any hope of watching the proceedings with any sense of urgency.
Anyway, now we’re on a more traditional ski slope. It’s actually got snow. Once again the competitors are jostling each other, and the Brewer has a sip from a bottle. Enjoy our product responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, but drinking and skiing down a very difficult trail with a loop-de-loop at the bottom is ok.
Well, before long they’re off. Plenty of nice skiing stunts to behold, and some more uh, what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s not “comedy”â€¦
Anyway, the Bayer skier does a jump them seems to jettison a pair of skis, like a two stage rocket. How this works we can only guess. The Brewer at one point has to fight off a belligerent fellow skier by grabbing a beer bottle from a teammate on the sidelines and then cracking it over the head of his opponent. Good thing he wasn’t on the Bayer team, otherwise he’d have to hit him with a bottle of aspirin, and well, that’s just silly. Not that either one should do much damage since he’s wearing a helmetâ€¦ And in a downhill ski race, why attack someone else? Wouldn’t this most likely result in the both of you wiping out while the other guys leave you rolling in the snow?
Giovanni falls into a crevice, and is suspended by his skis. We see a few shots of this, one where he eats a banana episode down (Must fightâ€¦losingâ€¦strengthâ€¦.Work all night on a drink of rum! Daylight come and me wanna go homeâ€¦Sorry, I tried.). Eventually Gio swings himself up and on his skis again (I think they just reversed the shot of someone falling in, but it’s hard to tell).
Viktor and Magda attempt to use dynamite to seal a canyon and trap the F&I guy (the illusive John again, who is on clearly seen on screen fewer times than the Blair Witch). Pointing out a spot on Viktor’s cheek proves to be their downfall (don’t ask). If they had just sealed up the pass after their guy had gone through, they wouldn’t be doing that “Villain Shouting You Incompetent Fool” thing.
At the bottom of the ski slope there are lot of cars and trucks with chains on the wheels (every last man jack one of them a VW, I wonder why?). Dudley is in the F&I car talking to Lucy on his cell phone. Lucy tells him that Alex has to win. She tells him with emphasis that he’s got to get to the next part of the race first.
Dudley worries about getting down there, period. “Think positive,” urges Lucy. Okay, uhm, there has at this writing not been a third entry in the Fire & Ice series. “Oh I am thinking positive. I’m thinking these guys are planning a demolition derby, and most of them are thinking of me.” Well, if that’s Dudley’s positive thinking, I wonder what his negative thinking is like. Thoughts that would make Leonard Cohen say “Oh, cheer up for cryin’ out loud” I guess.
Some more spiffy stuntwork is shown at a loop-de-loopâ€¦some make it, some don’t. Although the racers seem to be all over the place, everyone arrives at the cars at roughly the same time, and drive off in their extremely tasteful vehicles. The Bayer guys are driving that truck with the chemical thingees on top. The Bogner Beauties do their part for maintaining the dignity of women in sport by driving a pink convertible with giant sunglasses at the front. I’m glad to see everyone is thinking practical in a racing vehicle.
The Brewers have themselves a 4×4 with antlers on the front and kegs of beer in the back. And all my sarcastic talk about their drinking seems to be on the money–they do not sip beer before driving. Gio gets into a truck, which begins playing “La Cucharacha” on its horn as he takes off. Don’t ask me.
Our next shot is of two pudgy “American” tourists, hanging out and looking at the countryside. Well, they might be Americans. The woman is wearing a goofy little cowboy hat and the man is wearing a Yankees cap. They are speaking with an outrageously fake Texan accent. That’s right, Texas, home to millions of New York Yankees fans.
The woman wants to go because she’s “got a hairdressin’ appointment.” He says “Just a minute sugarplum.” Well, these accents are too thick and too over the top. They’re not from Texas, unless it’s Texas, Liechtenstein or something. Our American tourists get into a car. They are also driving aâ€¦oh, see if you can guess what company made their car. G’wan, try. Megathon officials have not deemed to close the roads to public for this race, an odd slip-up in their normally thorough supervision of these events.
In the Gurumobile, Viktor and Magda are driving along. Viktor decries Magda’s driving, because she hasn’t hit any cars. Well, only one car will get seriously damaged in this sequence, and this race will not be a demolition derby as Dudley predicted. Perhaps they couldn’t afford to trash many of their sponsor’s cars.
Magda says she hasn’t hit other cars because she’s “thinking about the grenades.” Where are they? “You’re sitting on them!” she says. Chuckle city. Magda also warns that the grenades “aren’t safe” for some mysterious reason. Uhm, are grenades really supposed to be “safe”? Doesn’t that sort of counter their reason for existing?
Up ahead, our “Texans” are blocking race traffic, but Sugarplum refuses to let hubby pull over. Viktor meanwhile gets out a grenade, and tosses one right into her hand. Sugarplum begin blathering on about people having no consideration, while hubby does Laurel & Hardy-style stammering as he realizes what she’s holding. About eight or nine grenades could go off in the time she’s holding it, but eventually she tosses it away, and it explodes off the side of the road.
In the F&I car, Dudley receives a call on his cell phone, and begins doing some business talk. John grabs it and tosses it out the window, right into the lap of Sugarplum. This for some reason is the last straw. “You get those creeps!” she demands. Hubby then tries to nudge the F&I car off the road. Maybe this is a reversal of Lethal Weapon 2 and they’ve got diplomatic immunity.
Dudley instead forces their car off the road. The car flips on its roof and begins to slide downhill due to the skis on its roof-rack. “What kind of drivin’ you call this?” she demands, with extra Texas (wha caihn a drahvan ya cayall thias?) He responds “I dunno, it’s different.” For some reason he sounds as if he’s impersonating Scooby-Doo (see Laff-alympics note earlier).
Elsewhere, most of the cars are being held up by a passing train. The Milkamobile somehow manages to find a ramp, and launches itself through a platform car stacked with boxes. Milka boxes, coincidentally. Fortunately for the driver, these are clearly empty Milka boxes (cardboard boxes, being transported in the open with no plastic covering in a snow country). The next shot shows the car rearing up on two wheels, while the cowhead moves and attempts to shake off the boxes that were impaled on its horns. At this point I began sniffing my drink to see if any funky chemicals had been added.
Our F&I car develops a new problem when the car with the “Americans” lands on theirs, roof-to-roof. They drive like this a while, then the car hits a sign, so the vehicle on top starts spinning. None of this seems to have done much to alter the F&I vehicle’s speed. Eventually, Dudley slams on the breaks, tossing the “Americans” into a snowbank. Dudley smiles and looks cool, but he has yet to master his father’s famous raised eyebrow.
Now we see the Grundig vehicle, which is blowing smoke on to the Guru vehicle. Viktor tries to lob a grenade at it, but through a series of marry mishaps, the car ends up flying off the track, and the grenade, sans pin, ends up in the back see it. It blows off the hood of the car.
Somehow, Magda and Viktor are still alive. In fact, they’re totally unscathed. At this I have to commend the people at Volkswagen for making a dashboard that can deflect the shrapnel of a grenade. Magda asks how many grenades are left. “Seven,” replies Viktor, and then another goes off, blowing off the back. “Six,” says Viktor, still alive and untouched. At this I have to commend the people at Volkswagen for making seats that can deflect the shrapnel of a grenade.
At another log jam of cars, the Brewers use their 4×4 to drive over the traffic jam (hey, they had a 4×4. It would have been criminal not to have a car-crushing scene). So, I figure that once the Brewers have finished paying their expenses–the travelling, sporting equipment, athlete’s salaries, lawsuits, the legal fees and compensation for the wanton destruction of other people’s properties, after winning the $135 million they might be able to buy a round of drinks for everyone.
The Club Medmobile fires the trident on the hood of its car into the belly of a cable car, and is hoisted through the air “See you at the finish folks” taunts the driver. I wouldn’t be so cocky. He doesn’t seem to be going in the right direction, and I don’t think we see him again.
Sadly, we do see Viktor and Magda again, whose car is being gradually blown apart. Except for some blackened faces, they’re fine. Most of the car’s exterior is now gone, and three grenades are left to go off. “I hope you’re not sitting on one, brother dear,” sneers Magda. Well Maggie, This VW would probably protect him from that anyway. I hope VW swept the safety awards with this car. I think some armored vehicles can’t take this much damage.
Oh boy, it’s time for the final leg of the race. Once again, everybody arrives in no particular order. Adidas helps promote their rival’s products by driving up to the edge of the bob sled track sideways (ever see one of those cars where the wheels rotate in their wells?). Giovanni and Sabrina arrive, and Sabrina cries “Don’t go, it’s too dangerous!”
Well, she had a mysterious change of heart. This is without a doubt the least dangerous event of the race. There’s still plenty of potential for injury, but they are wearing lots of padding and there isn’t a 200 foot drop waiting for them if they’re thrown off the track, or a nice bed of jagged rocks to throw themselves into at 40 miles an hour. Instead, they embrace and sink out of the picture (I wish some people would have the good grace to do the same), apparently intent on a little public necking. Ah, those hot-blooded Mediterranean types, huh?
The skaters roar down the track, bumping each otherâ€¦oh bugger this for a game of old soldiers. It’s another nice stunt sequence, and despite his unorthodox skating style, Alex wins the race, and the Megathon. The final straw occurs when Viktor and the butler try to use a length of some kind of cloth to clothesline Alex, but he does a spinning jump over it. “Wow,” breathes Viktor. But before he can do the “This guy’s good” line, his own guy runs into the clothesline, and this create a pile on the track, allowing Alex to cross the finish line unhindered. I think that jump was supposed to be a figure skater’s jump. See, he had talent that could be used for the contest, he just had to believe in himself. I however believe that if the Alex we saw at the start of this movie performed this move, if he’d actually managed to land on his skates at all, he would have lost the use of his ankle for a long, long time.
Oh well, there’s mucho cheering, and hoisting of the victorious Alex. “We Can Win it All” begins to play. The F&I is present with one of those giant check thingajiggers. Good ol’ Dan Selby appears to wrap things up. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” he says echoing my sentiments at about the 2 minute mark of this movie. Selby described the Megathon events as (place your bets!) “the most incredible races I have ever experienced.”
You ought to try the view we got, Dan-O.
As a showcase for stunts (and product placements), the movie worksâ€¦
Uh, wait a minute, why aren’t the credits rolling?
Oh God, there’s more?!
Sheesh, now I know how slasher movie characters feel when the killer shakes off his first “death.”
Cut to a shot of Sir George (sans MacVey disguise) and NBG looking on. Georgie is blushing with parental pride, but is a little wistful. “Pity I can’t tell them what it meant to me.” NBG says he’ll arrange something.
NBG goes down to the celebrating heirs, and asks them to fulfill their father’s “final wish,” which is to visit “George’s Peak.” This apparently has the best view in the country, and George bought it “to stop developers from moving in.” That George. Whatta guy. I wonder how this business of his managed to do anything. I mean, to run any kind of company, you have to set up shop somewhere and occupy space. You have to consume something to produce something else. What did this damn company do anyway?
Lurking nearby are two people who don’t know when to quit. No, not the screenwriter and director, but Viktor and Magda. Viktor overhears their plans to go to George’s Peak, and plans to exact revenge. For this he needs dynamite. “Lots and lots and lots.”
So, our three heirs climb up a snowy peak, and who should they bump into but Sir George. At first they don’t recognize him, but soon they penny drops, and they identify him.
“Large as life and in the flesh,” says Sir George. Dudley snarls “MacVey, I should have known!” Damn right you should have known, chum. Lucy is none too happy, and cries “You conned us!”
Some distance away, Viktor and Magda are watching. “Oh no, it’s Sir George!” cries Magda. “He’s tricked us!”
Well, here’s their revenge, served up on a platter with a side dish of rice. Now that they know Sir George is alive, a quick photograph would royally screw him up. Once it becomes public knowledge, the heirs would not get their inheritance, and a lot of influential companies would probably not be really amused about spending all this time and money competing in an event that is now meaningless. So, they are still owed their money, plus they can slap Sir George with some nice fraud charges and lawsuits galore.
But noooo, they decide to blow them up somehow. What’s really strange is that Viktor’s new “detonator” works as you “just key in a number.” Well, this is pretty revolutionary. It skips the placing of charges phase that occurs in most demolitionary endeavors.
Back on the Peak, Dudley asks what would have happened if they’d lost. “Life is a gamble,” says Sir George. “At least we’d all have a bit of fun.” George, you’ve got a pretty strange definition of fun. Meanwhile, Viktor presses a few buttons, and there’s a small explosion beneath Sir George. Part of the ledge collapses, but he’s attached to a safety rope, and dangles below the peak.
“Help!” he cries. “Down here!” I guess he said this just in case they began looking in glove compartments for him or something. I can see why he’s afraid too. I mean, that’s a nasty five foot drop into the snow waiting for him.
“What about our money?” demands Dudley.
“Do something!” says George.
“We’re orphans, remember?” says Lucy.
Hey, this is actually a pretty juicy turn of events. An “accident” would serve George right, as far as I’m concerned. Sure his kids aren’t the most loveable bunch on Earth, but he tossed away money that wasn’t his to watch his kids potentially paralyze themselves or worse.
“Well, if you don’t want to be orphans again,” calls Sir George, “pull me up.” No kids, strike your father down, and take your place at my side with the Dark Side of the Force! It is your destiny!
“Should we?” asks Dudley.
“I’m not so sure!” says Lucy.
“Well he’s still our father,” says Alex. And then they pull him up.
The Emperor Palpatine appears and says “If you will not be turned, then you will be destroyed,” and then flash-fries them all with Force Lightning. Wait, I think I imagined this part. Yes, sadly, the movie’s brief flirt with an interesting plot development is over.
Seeing that the gang isn’t dead, Viktor tries another number (how the hell does this thing work?). He tries Sir George’s “private number.” Would this be “007,” a mildly amusing in joke?
No, for some reason it’s “082.”
The second explosion sends everyone over the side. They tumble down the hill a bit, and a lightly buried at the bottom. Viktor really has to learn to use charges with more power than a sparkler. Sir George gets up first, calling for his kids. But don’t worry (as if), they’re all fine and soon uncovered. As Alex is pulled up, he says “Oh please go away, I think I’m going to have one of my turns.” This causes a hearty group laugh, at least until the tribe of yeti come along, catch them, skin them, and eat them. No wait, I imagined that part too.
After a group hug, George asks for Dudley’s cell phone so he can call for help. “For once it might come in useful.” I guess this movie is predicting that cell phone won’t catch on outside of pompous businessmen. Nice work, Nostradamus.
At the press of the buttons, the peak where the DeBris are hiding explodes (look, roll with it, and we’ll be rewarded with the end of the movie, ok?). At the sound of the explosion, Sir George quips “sounds like there’s a lot of DeBris in the air.” Ugg. I though my puns were bad.
The DeBris are dangling from the peak by safety lines, arguing. So, they’re still alive, and still in a position to blow the lid on this little conspiracy. So, assuming the helicopter pilot who arrives to pick them up is different from the one in the plane, we’ve got the pilot, the DeBris, and the heirs to add to the tally of people who know Sir George isn’t dead. The final count: 15. This is the kind of conspiracy Fox Mulder could crack when he was five.
Ok, a chopper arrives to cart our gang away. As they do, Sir George says “I must tell you about my special projects. The rainforests. The Rhinos.” I guess Roger Moore loves charity work too. After all, he agreed to be in this movie. Watch carefully as the crew gets in the helicopter. You can see they’re having problems shutting the door properly, long after the helicopter takes off. They’re still working on it as the scene fades.
(Jason pokes his head out cautiously)
Is that it? Is the movie over? Are those credits I see? Is the killer really dead?
Yes. Thankfully, it’s finally over.
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home.
Okay, I think I’ve finally got it out of my system.
A business meeting you won’t find at PepsiCo:
Biz Guy 1: “We are a business corporation. Not a charitable institute.”
Biz Guy2: “Right, we can’t buy up forests and wet nurse rhinos.”
Sir George: “I’m very fond of rhinos.”
Biz Guy 3: “We love too George, but we could put them up at the Hilton for less!”