Tee-Hee, I'm Naked!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Private Resort

(1985, 82 min.)

Starring Rob Morrow, Johnny Depp, Hector Elizondo, Dody Goodman, Leslie Easterbrook, Tony Azito, Emily Longstreth, Michael Bowen, Hilary Shapiro (Shepard), Karyn O’Bryan, Lisa London, Andrew Dice Clay, Ron House.

Directed by George Bowers.

A brief foreword: I have very little use for actors as a species. I don’t mind the rampant exhibitionism so much, at least not until it reaches pathological levels. I think it has more to do with the fact that I’ve never been able to take it very seriously as a craft. Not to suggest that just anyone can do it; clearly many cannot (insert your own cheap shot at Hollywood here) and it can’t be denied that some individuals at their peak can achieve something truly remarkable. But I think it’s often taken far more seriously than is warranted. I used to act myself. I’ve sat through classes and rehearsals in which I’ve watched people spend hours trying to wring meaning out of things that don’t really have any, or, having found meaning in something that does, spend additional time desperately searching for even more, despite having already licked the cupboard clean. This behavior is particularly prevalent and egregious when it comes to Method Acting, a technique that, despite the successes it can produce, basically reaffirms the self-absorption from which many actors already suffer by taking something that is largely about something else and only circumstantially about them and reversing that ratio. Aside from the obvious ego-issues this suggests, I also think it’s just a whole lot of ado about an exercise that is essentially just an extension of the childhood pastime of ‘let’s pretend.’

However, having alienated any and all thespians who may pass this way, I do have to say that I often find myself filled with a tremendous amount of sympathy and/or admiration for what actors are willing to put themselves through in the name of a paying gig, in the name of taking any opportunity to practice their trade until something better (hopefully) comes along. The T&A comedy is one of a number of genres that make this harsh reality of the business just that much more obvious, and this film in particular…well, I’ll get back into that a little later. Suffice to say, to all the actors out there: I may not have that high an opinion of what you do, but I raise my beer mug to the tenacity you show in your desire to do it. Moving along…

This may well be the T&A equivalent of the Italian cannibal flicks: it’s gratuitously cruel, and while it’s seemingly not worthy of your time, should you find yourself watching, it may be too grotesque for you to look away.

Herein what’s passed off as a plot in this doofy exercise in forced horniness: Depp and Morrow play two guys who – get this – go to a hotel filled with girls in bathing suits, hoping to get laid. I know, it’s like the second coming of John Sayles, isn’t it?

Shortly after arriving they attempt to have a beer at the bar, only to be unfairly judged by the head of hotel security (Azito) to be scruffy gatecrashers, a puzzling assumption on his part, seeing as how most of the guests seem to be young people frolicking hither and thither anyway. Jesus, man, they’re two of the quiet ones. But don’t worry. He’ll pay. He’ll pay big time.

It’s not too long before we’ve been introduced to a number of subplots. A conman known as The Maestro (Elizondo) is there to steal a jewel from a wealthy woman (Goodman). Morrow has the hots for one of the hotel’s waitresses (Longstreth), but is thwarted by an asshole steward (Bowen) who also wants to score with her. And Depp’s character decides he needs to get with a girl (O’Bryan) who happens to be Goodman’s granddaughter, and in the process Morrow agrees to help him out on a double date, his half of the date being the whacked-out cousin (Shapiro) a little too into her Undefined Eastern Religion.

There are basically two reasons to watch this film. One involves sadism and the other masochism.

I’ll give the movie this much: they don’t skimp on the nudity. There are plenty of breasts and buns scattered about. Anyone who ever sat through one of the Police Academy movies just to be able to better fantasize what Easterbrook’s Lt. Callahan looked like out of her uniform can see her here in a completely sheer robe. There are even, for those so inclined, a number of shots of our two before-they-were-stars’ backsides. (If you have ever harbored a need to see Dody Goodman smack Rob Morrow’s ass – a singular kink if ever there was one – look no further.) On the other hand the jokes are, for the most part, terrible. So if you’re masochist who loves bare breasts, this may be for you.

If you’re a sadist who loves bare breasts, this is definitely the movie for you. But I’m not talking about fetishistic S&M, so put away your whips and clips and clamps and plugs. Also, if it matters, all of the abuse is heaped on men, two men in particular, aside from one mildly amusing scene involving Depp and Morrow trying to hide a drunken woman from her boyfriend (Clay) by repeatedly dropping her behind a hotel room bar. (Interestingly the woman is played by genre staple London and for once she actually doesn’t get naked, only appearing in her underwear, and it looks as if she may have had some reduction done since her eye-popping role as O’Hara in H.O.T.S.) But if seeing men humiliated – repeatedly – is your bag, hoo-boy, is this the film for you.

Our two whipping boys are Azito and Elizondo, and they get whipped harder than cream, which, incidentally, they end up covered in, from fire extinguishers, falling onto buffet tables, and, in Azito’s case, a completely gratuitous pie in the face. (When, oh when, will filmmakers hearken to the wisdom of Ernie Kovacs, who once said, quite correctly, that it’s far funnier to see a beautiful girl take a pie than some hapless schlub?)

What these two guys endure is a true testament to what I mentioned about actors above (in the nice paragraph), and the film benefits as a result. Azito, an accomplished stage actor who sadly passed away in 1995, does his physical schtick with a gusto that lends the film some much needed laughs, and Elizondo is one of the few actors I know who can make vulgar characters genuinely funny. It’s nice that he has since gotten respect enough in the entertainment biz that he (most likely) won’t have to subject himself to this sort of film ever again.

Nor, presumably, will its two stars. With Morrow doing solid work on the CBS crime-drama Numbers, and Depp enjoying a mainstream popularity that he can apparently take or leave, they’re both safe (for the moment) from this kind of mandatory slumming. That’s certainly a boon, and if you don’t believe me, you clearly haven’t seen the scene where Morrow, in severely unconvincing drag, finds himself being felt up by Elizondo in an elevator, the film’s penultimate comedic low point, surpassed only by the rock bottom moment a half a minute later when Clay gets in the elevator, whereupon both men begin squeezing Morrow’s ass.

An actor’s life indeed.


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