Marketing for dummies, to dummies, or by dummies?

The subject matter alone—fishing—narrows your target audience significantly, and that is not meant to impugn those who take to the water as an avocation. Simply put, this is one of those polarizing diversions, much like golf, in which there is little interest beyond those who indulge in the craft. Very few people spend years saying, “I’ve always meant to take that up.” You want to fish, you grab a pole and go. If you do not fish it means you have no interest in fishing, and by extension, no interest in fishing movies. And on the other side, those who bait hooks are not the type to be content to sit in a dark box for two hours; they are out on the water. So who was this movie marketed to?

This could be the toughest question to wrestle to the ground because the studio further dared the public to stay away with their print ad campaign featuring fabricated quotes from non-existent newspapers. This was no “David Manning” scandal. This was an attempt at humor that failed so completely that it was the kind of idea that could only be hatched by a committee of yes-men. These are the actual blurbs they ran:

“Thank Cod for this movie!”
–The Saturday Evening Pike

“Holy Mackerel, you’ll laugh your bass off!”
–The Sandshark Sentinel

“Bring your whole Grouper to this movie!”
–Barnacle & Seaweed Monthly

Personally, I like how the humor of each comment is enhanced by liberal use of the exclamation point. After this sophomoric display the movie might have actually been helped by a jaunty quote from Manning and his ersatz Ridgefield Press. I don’t wonder how many prospective viewers these faux raves repelled from the film, instead I wonder who may have been hesitant and then became convinced to dart for the cineplex after reading these quips. These would be individuals who should be interviewed and studied judiciously by a team of sociologists. And then sterilized.

The scant few who did find their way into a theater to sit through this bird’s-nest of a film certainly must have wished they were far off shore. Pesci and Glover ape their way through by playing identical simps who endeavor to drive to the Florida Everglades to enter a fishing contest. The title would have been more apt were it, “On the Way to go Fishin’” because this pair spends a remarkable amount of time doing everything except tossing jigs. They encounter a career criminal, lose their car, have their boat run through a diner, watch it towed away on the Chessie System line, and numerous other empty-minded gaffes that are supposed to deliver belly laughs, but instead elicit intestinal cramps.

The plot centers on these two addled minds driving from New Jersey down to Florida, but en route their desires get waylaid. At a truck stop diner, they encounter a self-proclaimed fisherman dressed in an Italian suit who is actually a serial criminal. Dekker Massey is a slick fugitive who is wanted for fleecing rich widows and now he targets our two naïve gill rippers, stealing their car and sending their boat and trailer through the restaurant as he flees. Next, we see them pushing their trailer down the highway (hilarious!), seemingly happy to portage their vessel the length of the Sunshine State while moaning that they wished they were in the water. Makes you wonder why they didn’t launch into the tributary bordering the roadway. Oh, that’s right; they are as dumb as lead sinkers! A riot!

Get the rest of the story in part four of MILK CARTON CINEMA: “GONE FISHIN'”>>>

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Posted on June 18, 2003 in Features by

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