Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Unrentables: Copper Mountain

The Unrentables were DVD's we had in our collection at Laser Blazer for more than 2 years that had never rented, not once. Unfortunately, as I no longer work at a video store, I rarely get a chance to review an "unrentable" any more. That is, until my friend Adam suggested I Netflix Cooper Mountain, a 1983 comedy in which buddies Jim Carrey and Alan Thicke (!) hit the slopes and try to get laid. Yes, I also thought it sounded like Dumb and Dumber. But this one came out in 1983, so technically the Farrellys are ripping David Mitchell off.

Director: David Mitchell
IMDb Rating: 1.5

First off, I have to say, this is the worst-quality DVD transfer I've ever seen. It looks like it was recorded on a first-generation VCR over a "Circus of the Stars" rerun, then transferred on to DVD using a Commodore 64. Plus, I think it's in Mono.

Apparently, the name of the movie is not Copper Mountain, as the Netflix sleeve indicated. It's actually called, I swear, Copper Mountain (A Club Med Experience). Remind me to punch Adam in the back of the head next time I see him.

I think this theme song includes the lyric "I can hear the sound of my heart on fire." What the hell does that mean?

WOW, Jim Carrey is young here. He and Alan Thicke make an odd pairing for a buddy comedy. Actually, Alan Thicke would make an odd pairing with just about anyone in a buddy comedy. "Alan Thicke and Larry the Cable Guy are...Airport Security! Checking your bag is never a drag. Coming this Fall." Oh, shit, someone get my agent on the phone. And, um, get me an agent.

Thicke and Carrey have some excited banter about "taking Club Med by storm" during the rest of the opening credits. Carrey does an impression here of someone, but damned if I recognize it. I was, after all, only 5 years old when this film came out. Maybe it was Frank Gorshin.

Man, the sound on this DVD is truly, exquisitely awful. I'm listening to the thing on my computer with goddamn headphones and I can barely make out what Alan Thicke is saying. Perhaps Joe's House of Chicken Wings and DVD Audio Mastering is doing me a favor not letting me hear the dialogue, but it's kind of frustrating.

So the guys arrive at a Club Med ski resort and sort of generally mill about for a while. Ronnie Hawkins Band is apparently playing at the club, and Carrey does a really terrible Sammy Davis Jr. impression for them. Actually, it's not just an impression. He sings the entire song "Mr. Bojangles" in a bad Sammy Davis Jr. voice. Head, meet desk.

Carrey's charming Rat Pack fantasy is interrupted by Ronnie Hawkins, who feels the band is not country, not "humpty dumpty" enough for his tastes to use his own terminology, but all is well after they play Credence's "Lodi" together.

We're 10 minutes into Copper Mountain...not a single character has been introduced nor plot initiated, and now I'm watching an Alan Thicke stand-in wipe out on a slalom run. "That ain't no waterbed," he says as he stands up, covered in snow. Cue riotous laughter.

Oh, you don't get it? You see, we find out in the next scene that he's a waterbed salesman! Yeah, I didn't know jokes worked retroactively like that either, but it's in Copper Mountain, so it must be right.

Carrey is now doing a Steve Martin bit for two girls in a hot tub. I haven't seen a comedy try to milk impressions this hard since Dana Carvey's brief foray into feature films. Anyone remember that master class, Clean Slate?

So now, Thicke has challenged the club's bartender, Yogi, to a skiing race. He keeps calling him "Corky," condescendingly, but it can't be a "Life Goes On" reference, because that didn't start for a few years after this. Why is the name Corky, pre-TV reference, more silly than the name Yogi, which already had a silly pop culture reference point? I felt a little bit of actual hope, as it appeared for a moment that this Thicke-racing-Yogi thing might turn into an actual story, but it's 10 minutes later already and nothing additional has happened.

Instead, we get some scenes in which Carrey tells some women that he's a loser who can't meet women. I think it might be the constant lame, pathetic, sub-Robin Williams schtick he's throwing at everyone it earshot, but it could also be that he's constantly telling women that he's a loser who can't meet them.

After we wait through this horror and get to race day, we still don't get a ski race before we get another several songs from Ronnie Hawkins. Including a fucking "Lodi" encore! I mean, are you kidding me? The movie's less than a half hour old and I'm watching my third Credence cover by Ronnie Hawkins? It's like David Mitchell using the mechanics of moviemaking to cockpunch me. Maybe this is the kind of cinematic violence politicians are always railing against.

Wait...wait...Ronnie's now introducing some other musicians. Are there going to be more fucking songs? I thought this was a skiing comedy! It's like watching a Ronnie Hawkins concert in the mountains that some cruel bastard has recorded. Seriously, there's some chick on stage singing "One Fine Day" now. I'VE BEEN RONNIE ROLLED! Frankly, I would have expected more from The Hawk.

There's a scene on a ski lift with a husband and wife, or maybe it's a father and daughter. She wants to leave the mountains and he's asking her to stay. Who the hell are these people? What happened to the main characters? The entire movie has turned into a Ronnie Hawkins concert populated by strangers. (The scene ends with the couple making out, so I guess it's the husband and wife. That or "David Mitchell" is the name under which Bernardo Bertolucci directs ski comedy-musicals).

Finally, FINALLY, the ski race starts. I realize now that the rest of this movie is so fucking boring, I've been eagerly anticipating a ski race featuring Alan Thicke and a fat guy named Yogi. Britney Spears lifestyle choices are seem more and more reasonable all the time.

After an uneventful race, we get more music with Ronnie Hawkins' Band. This is Volume #4 of The Unrentables and, for the first time, I'm seriously considering turning the movie off. Has Copper Mountain finally broken my gentle spirit? Is this the end of The Unrentables?




No! I will fight on!

Some French skiier named Jean-Claude Killy is going on a helicopter ride to the top of a particularly high slope. The pilot lists off his skiing accomplishments, pretty much into the camera, in case we weren't sufficiently impressed by the name "Jean-Claude Killy." I'm pretty sure this is the last we will ever see of this guy in the movie. The producers just wanted us to know that...yeah...they can get both Ronnie Hawkins and Jean-Claude Killy in their movie. What big stars have cameos in your low-budget ski comedy musical? Oh, you've never made a low-budget ski comedy musical? Bwa ha ha!

Ridiculously, after that brief scene at the copter, there's another musical number. This is punishing. Did Sondheim write this? It's wall-to-wall music. Mitchell inserts all these shots of people snapping their fingers and wiggling around, to let us know we're supposed to find this entertaining. "You're finding Copper Mountain an enjoyable experience, viewer! Such as you might engage in on a frosty mountain morning while oversized reflective shades and a yellow headband."

(There's an insert of a dork picking up his skis and playing them like a guitar! I wonder what ever became of this man, who played DORK WITH SKIS #1 in Copper Mountain. Is he still alive? Did he proudly tell family and friends to go see the film and look for him?)

I notice that Ronnie Hawkins didn't even hang around for the remainder of the concert scenes. He's back in the lodge, most likely drinking himself into oblivion, trying to avoid having to hear Jim Carrey's wacky take on Jim J. Bullock.

Okay, so it has been 50 minutes and there's still no story. I guess it's just not going to happen at all, and I should just resign myself to that fact now. What did Mitchell imagine would keep our attention? Shots of skiing? Jim Carrey's loopy, somewhat-similar impressions of megastars like Bruce Dern? Cheesy music?

Speaking of music, there's a sequence in which Alan Thicke watches some guys skiing when we hear two different songs on the soundtrack at the same time. There's an instrumental score playing in the background and then some '80s pop song being played above that. The effect is bizarre and disorienting, like a Fiery Furnaces song without all that messy melody and genius. Hey, Dave...Two songs at the same time isn't, like, twice as good as one song. It's noise. Also, I hope you die.

Thicke wins a big race, and just as he's about to pass the finish line, the announcer says, "Oh, it's going to be a fun race indeed!" That's just...strange. Can he not see the action? Are we hearing his comments on some kind of delay? Is he as bored as me, and just skipping ahead to the next race?

I almost CAN'T keep watching this movie because of the double-soundtrack thing. There's seriously TWO SONGS playing with two entirely different tempos at the same time for 15 full minutes.

Anyway, Carrey wipes out bigtime on the slopes and inadvertently meets two sexy ladies. He takes them to...wait for it...A ROCK SHOW STARRING RONNIE HAWKINS! OH, GREAT!

And, at just under 60 minutes, we roll credits. Thank God. Why is this a movie? Who thought there was enough material here for a movie? I demand answers!

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