Friday, November 23, 2012

Tapeheads (1988)

John Cusack Film Fest Movie #7

Synopsis: Loveable nincompoops break all the rules, and prove you don’t need money - or even talent to produce music videos.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Ivan (John Cusack) and Josh (Tim Robbins) are ousted security guards who will do anything to make Music Videos. While being ripped off by their new boss Mo Fuzz (Don ‘Soul Train’ Cornelius) they connect with their idols, The Swanky Modes (played by real soulsters Junior Walker and Sam Moore) and vow to resurrect the duo’s career. All-the-while, the guys find themselves on the hit list of an irreverent politician while working towards their goal of international notoriety. It’s the hit comedy of the year!”

What Did I Learn?: “Production values” equals tits and ass.

Really?: 1) Hmm…Norman seems pretty much ok with his henchmen and a few others viewing his bizarre sex tape. And I had a bit of trouble believing he would choose to watch it in the TV studio – during a live, satellite broadcast – instead of in the privacy of his home. 2) Is there much demand for four-minute television commercials? 3) So wait… the boys find a no-rent studio that just happens to be inhabited by a cute chick? And Norman Mart is her father? Whoa… Coinky-dink Alert!

Rating: Tapeheads is not a particularly smart, or insightful satire of the music video business, but Cusack and Robbins work well together, the script offers a few laughs, and the movie never takes itself too seriously. While most directors would have put the Norman Mart storyline (i.e. the sex-crazy right-wing politician trying to kill the boys) front and center, it becomes a weird sub-plot as much of the later action focuses on promoting the Swanky Modes. The script could have used a re-write. Watch for the late Don Cornelius in a small-but-funny small part as a sleazy record producer, and Jello Biafra(!) as an FBI agent near the end. 6/10 stars.




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