Sunday, 15 September 2013

Retro review: Loose Shoes (aka Coming Attractions, 1980) comedy Bill Murray, Sid Haig

loose shoes coming attractions poster
Coming Attractions is one of many spoof film trailer films which arrived in the wake of skit-based films such as The Groove Tube (1974), Tunnel Vision (1976) and more influentially, John Landis' Kentucky Fried Movie (1978). Hitting video shelves as Loose Shoes, I recall seeing this back in the halcyon days of VHS.  Re-watching the film recently (via an awful quality grey market DVD I got from a market stall), it seems we were all so easily amused back then.
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Directed by Ira Miller, who had a career as a bit-part actor in comedy films (notably in many of Mel Brooks' output), this mishmash of sketches based on film trailers was probably already out of date by the time it was made. Titles such as "The Invasion of the Penis Snatchers", "The Yid and the Kid" (a Chaplin send-up), "The Howard Huge Story", and "Skateboarders From Hell" give you the idea of the broadness of the humour on display here.
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There's more misses than hits, and for the most part it's hard to even break a smile. A spot-on Woody Allen impression from David Landserg (The Jerk, Love at First Bite) in "The Sneaker" but it goes on too long to be really successful, but is at least has the right idea.
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There's a slighlty amusing take on the long forgotten (at least in the UK) 1940s Universal characters Ma and Pa Kettle which involves a foul mouthed talking pig, but like most of the other skits, it out stays its welcome even at five minutes.
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Some actors who are now big names make an appearance, giving the the Saturday Night Live feel of the film a little more validity. Arguably the biggest, Bill Murray, appears in a sequence where he plays a prisoner on death row. There's a few amusing moments; the prisoners plan to breakout just before his execution but fail to tell him where the tunnel is, they all eat at candelabra clan tables and the obligatory riot is started because of the choice of food and house wine, but it's certainly not side-splitting funny. Even a Wizard of Oz spoof, "Billy Jerk Goes To Oz" bombs.
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Other famous faces popping up include Sid Haig (Spiderbaby, The Devil's Rejects) in a spaghetti western spoof, Susan Tyrrell (Forbidden Zone, Nightmare Maker), The Gong Show regular Jaye P. Morgan and Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati). Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap, The Simpsons) provides one of the voice overs.
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The best of the famous spots, and probably the best sketch, is a spoof charity announcement one behalf of the bed-wetting charity, S.T.O.P.I.T. fronted by the legendary Buddy Hackett (It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World).
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The alternate title, Loose Shoes, which is the title it was released with over here, comes from the Cab Calloway type song towards the end of the film.  During the section "Darktown After Dark", David Downing sings the song with a refrain culled from a quote attributed to a former US Agricultural Secretary, Earl Butz. He allegedly once make a joke: (quote direct from Wikipedia) "I'll tell you what the coloreds [sic] want. It's three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit". Those three things make up the chorus of the song. I would say its downhill from there, but as that was the last section, it says it all.
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It just goes to show, what you may have found funny when you were younger (I was probably about 12 when I first saw this) doesn't mean it is actually funny. Woeful.
2 out of 10

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