The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine (1990)

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)
Dir.: Renny Harlin
TC4P Rating: 4/9
Appearance: via dialogue and a brief cameo (deceased and barbecued).

What smells worse than the scent of overly charred shark meat, roasted to disgusting effect on a spit? Possibly only the script to this flop attempt to launch Andrew Dice Clay as a major motion picture leading man. Truthfully, I kind of like Clay on film, even if I have never been even the slightest fan of his stand-up act. I thought he was the funniest thing in the Lea Thompson-Victoria Jackson misfire Casual Sex?, which isn't the boldest statement given its general shoddiness, but it's the truth. Looking back on the supposed shock of his Saturday Night Live appearance the year this film came out, it's hard to see what all the hubbub was about, Bub.

Given a legitimately R-rated platform to sell his largely misogynistic and sophomoric material, Clay ends up slapping out a truer approximation of his cartoonish, buffoonish character (which, being a guy, does have its built-in charms, admittedly), but ultimately soft-pedals that image in the interest of making himself acceptable to a wider audience. It's almost Pee Wee"s Playhouse for the beer-swilling crowd; full of fratboy-type humor, but basically defanged and harmless. Clay is even given a koala bear as a sidekick.

If the film actually had the balls its leading figure is assumed to possess via his self-proclaimed macho attitude (yes, I know it is tongue in cheek, but still...), it might have proven to be at least a far more interesting enterprise, if not also verging over into NC-17 territory, which wouldn't serve producer Joel Silver's money-making purposes at all. In the end, numerous quickly flung, filthy jokes pay off here and there, the stunt casting is fun for awhile, and there is also Kari Wuhrer, who always makes things easy on the eyes for me. However, the leaden direction of Renny Harlin absolutely sinks this thing almost before it begins. It's a Michael Bay comedy years before the word knew who Michael Bay was, and at least most of the humor here is intentional, something Michael Bay is completely unable to pull off.

And then there's that surprise shark scene at a party for the film's ultra-slick villain (Oops! Did I give anything away? Shucks...), played quite well actually by Wayne "Danke Shoen" Newton. As he tries to mislead Ford (yes, Clay's P.I. character is named after his signature vehicle) with a tidbit of erroneous information, Newton's record mogul picks up on an announcement from the party's chef: "Shark is served!" We are given a close-up of the toothy grimace of a shark, roasted on a spit to such a greasy black pallor as to be unappetizing to even the most ravenous carnivore, the sharp pole jutting out through the creature's nose to hold it in place above the fire. The chef cuts into the flesh near the dorsal fin as Newton uses the call to dinner as an excuse to get away from the false small talk, finally declaring "I'm such a fan of shark meat!" Cigar in mouth, Newton holds out a plate as the chef pulls out a generous slice of flesh and slides it off his skewer. "Your shark steak, sir!"

Ugh... I think I am off food altogether now. No, it's not the shark. It's the sappiness of the film's ending. At least the shark, in death, still has his teeth. Clay clearly lost his before this film even got made.


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