As Lynn said, it was a night of contrasts. I pulled out two shorts off of the YouTubes because the feature presentation wasn’t terribly long and it’s time to start gearing up for the Oscars.
Paperman, which is up for Best Animated Short this year, is said to be a revolutionary short because it combines hand-drawn and computer-generated animation. As far as I was concerned, it was seamless and very well done. The story is relatively simple – a paper pusher and the girl of his dreams meet at a train station when the wind blows one of his papers into her face. She leaves him with a lipstick stained sheet and a smile as she jumps onto a train. He has lost her, he thinks, but from the skyscraper window at his work he sees her across the street at a meeting. She doesn’t see him, so he starts creating paper airplanes out of his paperwork, trying unsuccessfully to throw them into her open window. In the end, though he is bereft of hope, the paper airplanes themselves (led by the lipsticked one) conspire to push the two of them back together. Cute. Sweet. That sort of thing.
The second short, which as far as I know has no official title but could be called “For Your Consideration” is a YouTube special sending up the recent Les Miserables offering.
Apparently, Anne Hathaway has been a bit too obvious in her hopes that her role (particularly her stunning version of “I Dreamed A Dream”) would earn her Best Supporting Actress, so the filmmaker (whoever it was) decided to find a girl who could really belt one out and a lyricist to parody the song, and voilá! you have instant funny. My favorite part is the Oscar speech simulation, but maybe that’s just me.
So – we’ve got a cutting-edge short showcasing virtuosity of art, we’ve got a funny and deliberate parody showcasing virtuosity of voice, and we’ve got…
This man is the eponymous Disco Godfather. He runs a club and DJs disco and after fifteen minutes of dancing and rollerskating and a man in tight underwear jiggling his batch at you, any viewer might think that the film couldn’t possibly get worse. And they’d be wrong.
See, his nephew Bucky is intimated to be a professional basketball player. I guess. (I blame the script. Really.) At any rate, Bucky’s buddy pushes him into trying PCP, which immediately “whacks him out”. Instead of giving him the ability to dunk over Carlos Boozer (link) it puts him on a long, strange trip, ruining his career. Bucky goes into his whack out in the middle of the Disco Godfather’s dance floor, but never fear – the ambulance which responds comes equipped with the famous head of the best PCP rehab clinic in Los Angeles. Because dudes like that sometimes hitch a ride with the EMTs to save taxi fare.
But no, it gets better! Have you ever experienced a PCP trip? Well, I haven’t, but I’m pretty sure that the filmmakers haven’t either, because this is what they think they look like:
All’s I’m sayin’ is that if PCP made you freak out and see nothing but creepy zombie people that don’t exist, I don’t really think many folks would do it. Amiright? How about some nice crack cocaine? How about a little heroin? Y’know, stuff without side effects.
At any rate, after a tour of the doctor’s clinic, the Disco Godfather decides to go on a crusade against PCP aka Angel Dust aka “The Wack”. And he’s serious. How do we know he’s serious?
Well, after he has merely resolved personally to fight the dangers of PCP, the Big Bad Businessman in town (who happens to be the Big Bad PCP Drug Lord, too) has already got someone trying to impersonate Pacific Bell in order to tap his phone. Actually, maybe he had already gone to the cops. It’s hard to remember.
See, he used to be a cop, before taking over the lucrative position of Disco Godfather. And he calls in some help from his former buds, one of whom turns out to be a snitch for the Big Bad Businessman. OK, that makes sense, that’s probably why they were tapping his phone, the snitch in the PD. What doesn’t make sense is that after the Disco Godfather leaves the PD the Captain picks up the telephone as if to make a call, but instead goes into Soliloquy Mode, waxing philosophic about how the Disco Godfather is going to get his man. In all earnestness. Much laughter ensued…from people watching the movie.
Now that he’s a full-fledged drug dis…d…def…umm fighter, the Disco Godfather’s first move is to put together an “Attack the Wack” rally. It was a bit long and a bit lame and from the show of hands that they did it seems like most of the people in the audience were PCP users, but that’s not the best part of the rally. The best part of the rally is that the actress playing the main speaker flubbed her lines and said “Wack the Attack!” and they just didn’t bother to do a second take.
Anyway, seeing that the Disco Godfather’s rally against Angel Dust might hurt his business, the Big Bad Businessman orders him killed in a hit. But then, for no apparent reason at all, he decides to call off the hit, and being told that the hit was uncallableoffable, decides to hit the hitmen. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, indeed. The hitmen are hit literally seconds before they were to take out the Disco Godfather in his own club, thus avoiding a very serious indignity. The Quis are wearing police uniforms, and the Disco Godfather takes particular notice of badge #143, which he repeats over and over for 20 minutes of the movie (note: 24 hours later, I remember the badge number, so I’m not kidding here). This badge number would appear to be a very important clue in determining who the police force leak is. Right?
In a real movie, the Disco Godfather would ask the LAPD to look up the badge number. Gee, I wonder whose badge that is! But instead the cops intuitively figure out who the snitch is (though that stellar bit of detective work must have hit the cutting-room floor) and set up a sting wherein (to the best of my ability to retroactively cogitate this) they break into the Big Bad Businessman’s hotel room which serves as the #3 PCP factory and call the snitch to say they need him to raid that very hotel room. When they hang up, he calls back the very same phone warning them to expect a raid. Now he’s caught! (File under: Plot points that would not work in the cellular phone era. Also filed under that heading: “You do know how to dial, don’t you? You just put your finger in the hole and make tiny little circles.”) At any rate, as a result of being caught the snitch apparently goes home and kills himself in the bathtub. I never said this movie made any sense.
Anyway, things either finally start to move quickly from that point or I just got so jaded that time entered that relativistic state and I just didn’t care anymore. The Disco Godfather gets kidnapped by agents of the Big Bad Businessman, who apparently doesn’t know that you don’t mess with the Green Bay Packers. They take him to the BBB’s PCP lab, which may have been a bad move, considering that the Disco Godfather and the LAPD didn’t really know where it was. There’s some relatively real karate (by a random co-star) and some really bad fake karate (from the Disco Godfather) before we get to the real message of the film. And that message is: if you’re in the BBB’s PCP lab, don’t open the closet.
Supplies! Out comes an inexplicable big bad wrestler dude. Who barely fit in the closet in the first place. And who, I kid you not, gets his own voiceover narration. Note that random voiceover narrations were NOT a major part of this film. Seriously, at this point it’s like this movie is a video game, and the big bad wrestler dude is the big boss on the penultimate level. Why did the Disco Godfather have the urge to open the Wrestler Closet? I really don’t know. Because it was his destiny, that’s why.
Well, let’s just say that the big bad wrestler dude wins. And, naturally, the penalty for losing against the big bad wrestler dude is to have yourself fitted for a custom-made PCP mask (while listening to Beethoven’s Ninth?). What, you don’t realize that ALL PCP labs have torture mask setups? Of course they do! How else do you torture the anti-drug superhero who is inevitably going to infiltrate your lair? It’s perfect, I tell you! The logic is impeccable!
Well, except for the fact that the Disco Godfather draws his strength from PCP! He chokes out the big bad wrestler dude with his legs, breaks his bonds, and in a PCP rage (that would be “Wacked Out”) he kills the Big Bad Businessman fairly anticlimactically and then the movie just ends. No denouement. The Disco Godfather does not approve of denouement.
In some ways, Disco Godfather is Lynchian. What I mean by that is that despite all appearances, there actually is a plot, and if you manage to figure it out from the scant clues and numerous bizarre diversions, you feel pretty smart. The plot, for anybody who gives a crap, is this: The Big Bad Businessman is trying to create a basketball team that will compete with the NBA. (Let us, for the moment, ignore the obvious logical problems here. Actually, let’s not. Look. You can’t just “make a basketball team”. The NBA won’t schedule you to play games against them. They’re a professional league, and they have franchise rules, and they don’t give out franchises to PCP drug lords. Not that the BBB wanted an NBA franchise, he just wanted a competing team. Well, who are they going to play against? Hmm? Hmm?) And by convincing Bucky’s friend (with five bills!) to whack him out on PCP, his plan is to ruin Bucky’s NBA career and then lure him to the “Sting Rays” as his star player.
The fact that this plan only barely gets into motion is either incompetence or brilliance. It completely breaks the Hollywood formula, that’s for sure. The bad guy has a stupid plan, and it doesn’t come close to working, kind of like most real “villains”.
You know what? It’s incompetence. I mean, it’s possible for people to make movies that break the Hollywood formulas on purpose and they’re really good because of it. I mean, ever seen Lost In Translation? See? It can be done. But this film? It’s tripe, it’s trash, and I’ve spent the last two hours writing about it. I guess it made some sort of impression.
In the end, I think that as far as bad films go, the only film that has been shown at Cinema 1544 that even remotely compares to Disco Godfather in badness is Tetsuo the Iron Man. I mean, there are films that I haven’t liked, headlined by Repo, The Genetic Opera, and followed by El Topo and Shadowboxer, among others. But Disco Godfather is probably the only film that we’ve ever shown that actually enters the “it’s so bad it’s good” category.
Just remember, Disco Godfather, we’re not laughing with you, we’re laughing at you.