October 12th, 2008

COMING HOME (1978) ***

Jane Fonda is married to Bruce Dern who goes away to fight in Vietnam.  Bored, she starts volunteering at the VA hospital where she literally runs into the paraplegic Jon Voight who accidentally spills his piss bag all over her.


It’s love at first sight.


Anyway, Hanoi Jane starts hanging out at the hospital A LOT.  So much so that all Jon wants to do is jump her bones.  He does in fact, and even though Jane used a body double this time out, those puppies still looked pretty good.  Their affair is cut short when they learn that Brucie boy is… Coming Home. 


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a title. 


Bruce finds out that Jane’s been giving Jon the all-you-can-eat clams special and he, in typical Bruce Dern fashion, goes nuts.  So nuts that he’s got to take all his clothes off and jump in the ocean; presumably to swim back to Nam or something.


What easily could’ve been your basic Lifetime Movie of the Week shenanigans is anchored by three good performances by Voight, Fonda, and particularly Dern.  His meltdown scene near the end is pretty great. 


I also enjoyed watching the excellent supporting cast do their thing.  I never expected to see The Exterminator himself, Robert Ginty act alongside Jane Fonda, I’ll tell you that much.  Although he didn’t whip out his trusty flamethrower in his smallish part, it’s good to know the dude was there earning a paycheck.  Also hanging out was Charles (Halloween) Cyphers, Robert (Revenge of the Nerds) Carradine, and best of all Willie Tyler and his dummy Lester!


We also get SIX classic Stones tunes on the soundtrack, which I guess makes sense because director Hal Ashby would later go onto do the Stones’ concert flick, Let’s Spend the Night Together.  There’s also two crappy Beatles songs in there too, but they don’t detract from the film too much.

VAN NUYS BLVD. (1979) **

A guy is tired of living with his consistently naked trollop because his van is fully tip-top and can race circles anyone in the trailer park.  He thinks he can get more racing action if he leaves his white trash existence behind and heads down to the titular street for “Cruising Night”.  Once there, he pulls into a drive-in burger joint where he immediately bangs a hot waitress before being challenged to a drag race by some other bimbo, whom he quickly falls head over heels for.  They end up getting busted for speeding and go to jail where they befriend a couple other traffic offenders and get involved in a series of predictable misadventures with each other.  Then in the end, our hero must make a fateful choice:  his van or his woman. 


The first half of Van Nuys Blvd. is kinda like a low rent American Graffiti, except that they could only afford about half the cast members.  And the budget was so low that they could only afford ONE classic car; so they were forced to set it in present day.  And they could only afford ONE damn song on the soundtrack instead of a plethora of oldies favorites.  Actually, the budget was so low on this movie that they could only afford to rip-off American Graffiti for HALF of the film and then had to resort to the usual Crown International Pictures hijinx for the remainder of the picture.


I don’t know though, for the most part Van Nuys Blvd. is a passable slice of 70’s coming-of-age comedy.  There are a few laughs to be had (the biggest comes when one of the chick’s dad mistakenly sneaks into her boyfriend’s room and begins groping him) and some of the location work is well done.  Writer/director William (The Incredible Melting Man) Sachs was at least smart enough to spice up the scenes where people have to stand around and talk and stuff with random bits of gratuitous T & A.


While I take off my hat to Sachs for finding any excuse to show a topless woman, I do have to lash out at him for his constant use of that extremely shitty “Boulevard” song.  It gets quite annoying after about the seventh time they play it.  I guess it could’ve been worse considering that the lyrics are only variations of “I want to kiss you on the boulevard” repeated ad nauseam.  Half star deduction for the irritating tunes.