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The 100




Odd Jobs
(1984)
Reviewed by John Trager
Rating: 2.5 Beans

he early 80s was, depending on your viewpoint, either the pinnacle or the nadir of the art of College-Students-On-Summer-Vacation films. Either way, this one is a comfortable zero. It's the story of four college buddies who are on summer break, and who, after flailing miserably at their summer jobs, band together to form a moving business. Sure, it's a cheesy premise, but you take what you can get on a Saturday afternoon, right?

Starring Paul Reiser, playing his normal role of wimpy-whiny-but-somewhat-bright-preppy-guy, and with a rare Richard Dean Anderson movie appearance as the guy who's stolen Reiser's ex-girlfriend (yup, it's MacGyver, playing a badguy) the casting here should have said something from the onset. Reiser's three buddies are absolutely forgettable, whoever they are, and consist of two white guys and the token black friend.

The movie consists of several loosely woven early subplots that all lead to the formation of the moving company halfway through. Reiser goes through hell working for a mob-style moving company, one of his buddies sells nuclear powered vaccuum cleaners (one of the few decent jokes in the movie), and the other two get fired from their caddying jobs for harrassing Anderson. The movie takes a turn for the better when the four start their moving company, and end up in a prank/harrassment war with Reiser's original company. Then, of course, it promptly nosedives once more.

Supposedly funny, but flatter-than-a-pancake subthemes include:

-- one of the white guys trying to "fit in" with the black guy's family, doing a sadly offensive parody of early 80s black culture

-- one of the movers being hired for "special services" for one of the company's customers

-- Reiser getting racked by a waitress at a roadside diner

-- two wild and zany crazy moving guys who provide the bad guys with enforcers but never quite figure out what's going on

-- it goes on, but brevity precludes listing any more poor attempts at humor

The single most irritating thing about this movie was the inexplicable narrating. Several scenes start with a Reiser voice over, with the other guys chipping in once or twice, but halfway through the movie, some unidentified woman starts to add her voice. It wasn't until the end of the movie that the mystery voice was explained, and it didn't seem to have anything to do with anything.

All around, not a horribly offensive movie, but definitely earns a couple of beans. There were definitely things to laugh at, but they probably weren't what the writers intended. A good movie to watch with a group of heckling friends -- you needn't worry about missing important dialogue, at least.

(Oh, incidentally, the reviewer apologizes for the proliferation of extraordinarily-hyphenated-phrases. It's just a phase.)






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