Tuesday, December 25, 2018

B-Movie Review: Leonard Part 6 (1987)

Revisiting the Bill Cosby "classic," 30 years (and a couple of sexual assault convictions) later ...


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX
The Internet Is In America on Voat

It's no secret that cocaine was widely used throughout the 1980s, and few things speak to its cultural import as well as Leonard Part 6, a movie that can only be described as the end-result of a decades-long crack smoke-off between Hollywood's most unscrupulous and capitalistic screenwriters.

Leonard Part 6 is virtually synonymous with the term "box office bomb." Not only was it a financial disaster (despite its $24 million budget, it didn't even gross $5 million in theaters), critics absolutely destroyed this movie, to the point Cosby himself started doing media rounds telling people to not go see it. By all objective measurements, there's definitely an argument to be made that Leonard Part 6 is one of the biggest fuck-ups in movie history, and up until recently, unquestionably the biggest embarrassment of Bill Cosby's career.

But is it really that bad of a movie? Naturally, we here at The Internet Is In America have never been ones to merely soak up the cultural consensus, and over the holiday break, I decided to squander an hour and a half of my life I'll never get back to confirm, yes, Leonard Part 6 is indeed a very, very bad movie ... although, perhaps, not AS terrible as the Internet hoi polloi may lead you to believe.

So what are you waiting for, folks? Put on your goofiest sweater, pop open a tub of Jello pudding and get ready to Quaalude your next amorous conquest — it's time to revisit the celluloid lowlight of Bill Cosby's career ... and considering this is a man whose cinematic portfolio includes Ghost Dad, Jack AND motherfucking Meteor Man, you KNOW that's saying something profound.

Bill Cosby, seen here demonstrating what he'd like to do to your genitals after you've been incapacitated by date rape drugs.

From the outset, the movie takes on this weird, low-effort vibe, with the title sequence consisting primarily of a bunch of crappy sketches of random animals while an (admittedly awesome) spooky synth song plays in the background.

From there, we jump to a butler explaining who the fuck Leonard Parker is and why the first five movies aren't publicly available (they were confiscated, naturally, to ensure global security.) Then this one secret agent is taking a swim with this flat-chested Asian chick you'd still do and he's attacked by a brainwashed trout that's somehow able to eat a 220-man despite weighing, I don't know, eight ounces. There's also this one part where the trout stops to ogle a Playboy magazine stuck in the drain, which was REALLY out-of-place and iffy in 1987 and is now all shades of uncomfortable in hindsight considering everything we know about Cosby these days.

Speaking of Cosby, he makes his intro in the next scene, where it's explained he now operates San Francisco's trendiest restaurant. A CIA operative sticks him up in the kitchen and there's a big shootout that involves automatic gunfire but nobody in the background seems to notice/care. Eventually, one of the assassin's bullets ricochets off a a whole bunch of pots and pans and he ends up blowing his own brains out. Of course, since this one isn't rated R, they don't show all the blood and brain matter splattering all over the place, but then again, should we really be expecting realism in a goofball comedy from 30 years ago?

So we learn that Cosby (that's Parker, by the way) is a retired super spy and the CIA is trying to get him to get back in the game because a whole bunch of undercover agents keep getting killed by wild squirrels and house cats. You see, it's all the handiwork of this psycho vegetarian eco-terrorist who has learned how to mind control animals and now she wants to stage an all-out siege on the Bay Area. Well, shit, who didn't see that little plot twist coming?

Then we get some exposition on how Cosby's wife left him because she was sick of all of the top secret shit he was doing and then his daughter comes home from college and introduces him to her boyfriend and it's this dude's like 70 years old and he tells him they plan on getting married. Then she brings her daddy a hot sammich and a Coca-Cola and he gives her a stern talking to.

After that we finally meet the movie's main antagonist, Medusa Johnson (played by Gloria Foster, a VERY poor woman's Dionne Warwick.) She sends a whole bunch of frogs after a spy, who kill him by making his car hop into the San Francisco bay. No, I mean literally fucking hop, ya'll.

Then Cosby kvetches about his ex-wife and calls her up and she says "OK, you can come and see me tomorrow night" and he kisses his butler right on the lips and then he gets naked and makes these Chinese people in a sweat shop he has in his house make him some new suits and he makes this gaggle of blonde white bitches he probably raped IRL give him a facial, complete with cucumber slices over his eyeballs. And just when you think this montage can't get any lamer ... now it's time for the prerequisite Jazzercise workout sequence.

Anyway, after that goes on for about five minutes (not an exaggeration, by the way), Cosby finally hops in his ride and gets ready to see his ex-wife for the first time in seven years. Then he shows up for dinner and he tries to get her to bury the hatchet, but she just tells him she's still pissed at him for cheating on her with a 19-year-old and she dumps a plate of shrimp pilaf over his head. Then he travels to a trailer park in Oakland so he can seek counsel from this gypsy fortune-teller and she starts shoving her thumbs up his nostrils while her kids throw miscellaneous pieces of debris at him. She speaks some sort of Slavic language and there are no subtitles, so who the fuck knows what's supposed to be going on here. All that's really important is that at the end of the scene she gives him a pair of ballet slippers ... you'll see why in just a few.

It wasn't funny the first time the movie shows us stuff getting dumped on Cosby's head, and it certainly wasn't any funnier after the 18th, either.

Next up, the butler suits Cosby up with all sorts of high-tech gadgets, including "the world's largest camera," which is actually the size of a first-wave Game Boy. He's also given a pair of heat-seeking missile launchers to hide under his armpits, because ... uh, armpits are an inherently funny part of the human anatomy, I take it? After all that, Cosby puts on this funky helmet and astronaut suit and hops in a custom-built spy car with a tank turret on the roof. He infiltrates the secret headquarters of Medusa Johnson and blows up a whole bunch of metal drums and shit but he can't get the fortress door to open no matter how many times he grenades it or bazookas it. Eventually, the villainess lets him into the compound and he's attacked by all of these naked dancers wearing bird feathers and just when it looks like he's a goner, he slaps on the ballet shows so he can safely tiptoe his way through the hordes of interpretive dance terrorists. And then he breaks out an electric razor and shaves all of the henchmen bald all over their bodies. Yep ... nothing troubling about that in hindsight, whatsoever.

Then Cosby throws a queen bee into the compound's "bee room" and that makes all of the insects attack the rest of the henchmen and then he's attacked by this muscular black dude who steals his razor boomerang and accidentally kills himself with it. Unfortunately, Cosby didn't have enough time to berate black culture in general for the youth's demise, which really, would've made this a much better movie all the way around. After that, Cosby heads back to his mansion where he does surgery on himself and he drinks an entire bottle of whiskey and it takes him like a minute to finish it and there aren't any cuts at all and holy shit, this movie was actually intentionally funny for the first time and it only took 'em the 52-minute mark of the feature.

Up next, Cosby and his ex-wife head to the play so they can watch their daughter perform and Bill struggles to stay awake and then he goes backstage and there are Lava soap bars EVERYWHERE for no inexplicable reason and Bill threatens the director and when he comes back into the dressing room about 12 people are tied up and bound and his daughter tells him his ex has been kidnapped and then he goes back to the secret CIA lab and he makes a buncha' rabbits EAT AND KILL his superiors then he goes to Safeway and buys a bunch of dishwashing liquid and he picks up the fortune teller for no discernible reason and his butler trails behind him in a school bus painted purple while her kids in the back play the arcade version of After Burner using a Sega Master System zapper on a CRT TV, somehow, and Cosby heads back to Medusa's compound and presents her with this robotic disco ball so she'll let him back in.

The only thing is, Medusa KNOWS Cosby replaced the super-duper-experimental chemicals that were supposed to be in the disco ball with dishwashing liquid, and she tells Cosby all about her master plan to turn San Francisco into a zoological holocaust because that's what bad guys ALWAYS do in these kinds of movies. So he gets tied up in a dungeon with his ex-wife and a buncha' evil lobsters start crawling after them. Ever the resourceful convicted rapist, however, Cosby uses one of the lobsters to snap off their chains and then he scares the rest of the lobsters off with a brick of melted butter and right before Medusa can hit the doomsday button, Cosby and his ex crash through the control room on horseback. 

Then Cosby throws beef at Medusa's henchmen and it burns them a'la holy water on a vampire and he frees all of the animals from the compound. Then Cosby makes Medusa's top henchman's HEAD EXPLODE but for some reason that doesn't kill him and he still keeps running around trying to strangle him. Naturally, the facility catches fire and Cosby has to make a daring, last second escape ... while riding an ostrich, which I suppose makes this the closest we'll ever get to a live-action film adaptation of Joust.

So after the compound gets flooded with soap suds, Cosby officially wins his wife back and the butler uses those aforementioned armpit rockets to blow up the killer animal disco ball and the ex-wife pours a whole buncha' butter over Cosby's head and while the credits roll, he starts pouring spaghetti on top of his own head, because ... Bill Cosby had a fetish for having sticky things dumped on his head? I mean, really, that's the only explanation I can think of, fam. Even better: the whole thing is set to this soulful R&B track that really makes you wanna' make sweet love ... goddamn, what a mess this whole fucking thing was.

Yep. Nothing about that facial expression suggests "I'm going to chemically subdue you" at all.

Well, that was ... something, alright. There's no denying Leonard Part 6 is a subpar movie, but on the whole, I don't think it's as horrible as people make it out to be. Indeed, I can think of a lot of shitty '80s comedies that are worse than this one, and as stupid as the whole production is, that's not to say it doesn't have some intrinsic nostalgic appeal. It's dumb and pointless and idiotic, for sure, but at least it doesn't take itself serious — and that inherent goofiness is pretty much the only thing that saves this movie from being an irredeemable, septic line-clogger of a cinematic turd.

Of course, the film went on to win a ton of Golden Raspberry "awards" for worst picture of the year, and Cosby himself even made several pit stops on the late night talk show circuit to "celebrate" his film's negative-achievements. Years after the fact, the director blamed himself for the movie being shit-tastic, saying he let Bill Cosby do pretty much whatever he wanted instead of telling him "You know, Cos, maybe this 17th scene of you have food dumped on your head is a little excessive, don't you think?"

On the whole, though, I'd say that Father Time has been mildly kinder to the movie than its all-time disaster-piece reputation may led you to believe. Yes, it's still a woefully unimpressive movie, but it certainly has a sense of naive innocence to it that almost makes you overlook its inherent stupidity. It's obvious that the filmmakers had no intent to push an agenda with the film, and really, they were just counting on Cosby's TV ubiquity to carry the whole thing, figuring they could still sell movie tickets no matter how asinine the feature was as long as they had his name on the movie poster. Out of all the possible productions Cosby (far and away the biggest star on television at the time) could have chosen, one has to wonder why this is the one that caught his eye — then again, considering he himself is the one who dreamed up the story (and Columbia Pictures was more than willing to back up the money truck to get his signature on the movie deal), I suppose it's not that difficult to see how this film came to fruition. (That said? I still say studio execs being too tanked out of their gourds on cocaine HAD to have played a major role in this thing getting off the ground ... indeed, you can say as much for about half of the other inexplicably bankrolled studio movies of the decade, the more I think about it.)

So Leonard Part 6 winds up being a film that — unlike Cosby himself — is totally harmless. As I said earlier, it's a really stupid, largely unfunny movie, but it nonetheless has a little bit of nostalgic charm to it, and as we head into 2019 ... with another recession likely looming in the distance ... I can't think of anything America needs more than warmer, comfier recollections of days gone past, where our comedy movies weren't filled to the brim with political activism and we didn't take one look at The Cos and immediately think "puddin' his dick where it don't belong."

Sigh ... even when the eighties was fuckin' terrible, it was still somehow more tolerable than late 2010s at its cultural apex. And, to some degree, few artifacts from the Reagan Years demonstrate that more than Leonard Part 6 — which, as unquestionably awful as it may be, is still more entertaining and less cumbersome than stuff like Roma and A Star Is Born

Just, uh, don't expect to see Leonard Part 7 happening anytime soon, though ...

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