As someone who worked in a video store for nearly a decade, I’m more than a little familiar with screeners. This is the first screener tape I’ve ever seen with two movies on it. You’d think the video company would put two similarly themed films on the same tape, but I can’t think of two movies more different than Mom and Dad Save the World and Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story.
Before the movies start up though, there are a couple of trailers. The first two trailers are for the main features. What’s different about these trailers is that how the studio tries to sell the movie to the video store owners. In addition to blurbs from critics, the trailer also boasts things like “Opened on 1,000 screens!” and “Special Foil Packaging!” The last trailer is for a Roy Cohn biopic, Citizen Cohn starring “James Woods of Straight Talk!”
MOM AND DAD SAVE THE WORLD (1992) **
Jon Lovitz plays King Tod, who lives on a tiny planet. He wants to blow up Earth, but when he sees Teri Garr in his telescope he falls madly in love with her. When she and her dopey husband (Jeffrey Jones) go on vacation, Tod beams them up to his planet. He throws Jones in the dungeon and plans to marry Garr. Jones escapes and leads a revolt against King Tod.
I will say this about Mom and Dad Save the World; the set design is pretty impressive. And some of the practical effects (especially the dog-face alien guards) are excellent. As good as the practical effects are (I loved the mushroom with Alien inspired mouths), the visual effects for the spaceships and flying station wagons are pretty lousy.
Overall, the movie itself isn’t very funny and some of the performances reek of desperation. Lovitz is particularly embarrassing. I loved him on SNL, but without a strong script, his constant mugging gets annoying after a while. Seriously, the big joke is that he’s alien leader and his name is “Tod”, which shows the amount of thought that went into his character. I will admit that his “mutton chops or goatee?” scene was kinda funny, but for the most part, he’s given nothing worthwhile to do.
If the same amount of gusto that went into the sets went into the script, it might’ve been a winner. As it is, Mom and Dad Save the World, just feels like Super Mario Bros. Redux. Still, it’s harmless enough that six year olds may like it. Make that five year olds.
TEAMSTER BOSS: THE JACKIE PRESSER STORY (1992) **
Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser story is a dull Made for HBO biopic. Brian Dennehy stars as Presser, an overweight union worker who quickly rises up the Teamster ranks and replaces Jimmy Hoffa as President of the Teamsters Union. Once Presser gains prominence, he hops in bed with Feds and becomes a Mob informant, in hopes to clean up the union.
Teamster Boss was released on the heels of Hoffa to cash in on that movie. Since Hoffa wasn’t a hit, it was pretty hard to cash in on it. Dennehy is well cast as the chain-smoking, overweight loudmouth, but we never really gain any sympathy for him, especially when he’s cheating on his wife. Plus, we never really know his motivation for becoming an informant, which renders a lot of his big scenes dramatically inert.
The supporting performances are pretty good. Jeff Daniels is solid as the square FBI agent who goes to bat for Presser and loses his job. However the script doesn’t flesh out their relationship very well. Eli Wallach is equally fine as Presser’s father, but again he’s not given anything worthy of his talents.
The early scenes of Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story are the best. Here, we get a lot of low level Mob movie shenanigans like car bombings. (There’s a good gory moment when a bomb goes off and you can see a dude’s severed legs.) Once Presser starts having closed door meetings, stumping for the Union, and double crossing the Mob, the whole thing gets pretty boring.
Next week’s Thrift Store Double Feature: A double shot of Kevin Costner!