MILK CARTON CINEMA: “GONE FISHIN'”

Fish Shticks

The implausibility grows when they meet two young women–Roseanna Arquette and Lynn Whitfield are completely wasted here as the daughters of two women who fell prey to Massey. They are trying to track the criminal down, although it is never explained what they hope to accomplish when they get to him. The girls agree to band together and hitch up the trawler to their El Camino. But the plan goes awry when, at a fork in the road, the car goes one direction and the boat goes the other. Gliding down the avenue, the gents decide they could throw the anchor and hook a light pole…it becomes the only thing they catch all movie. This brings the boat to rest on a train crossing, and you can see the set up coming down those same tracks.

Director Christopher Cain not only forces the physical humor, he also stages it like he’s blocking heavy machinery at a construction site. Here, the guys unhook the anchor and manage to push the boat off the tracks, but for no explainable reason the anchor hops off the bow and just happens to hook the end of the train which is twenty feet away and traveling 80mph. Ah, screw implausibility. This is damned funny stuff! Cain’s direction is littered with this brand of sardine-ic wit. At a yacht broker, Joe deliberately punches a large button and we see a boat on a crane tilt out of its harness and crash into the water. This is supposed to be uproarious, even when everyone has to ignore the boat splashing just behind them, and the salesman has to raise his voice over the alarm sounding throughout the boatyard.

The subtleties continue with Gus being a sleepwalker who, during one nocturnal sojourn, turns on a gas stove, blow dries his hair and starts a fire in his bed. Then the hotel blows up. Joe gets his moment to shine when he gets tagged by a bolt of lightning. (Don’t worry, apparently this happens to him often.) Before the close, we’ll also be treated to a splendid airboat chase and a bout with a rubber alligator.

Somehow there is intrigue implied by the guys trying to find the buried treasure of Massey. I guess he’s too suave to use off shore bank accounts because he stashes his plunder in a ‘gator hole in a swamp. They find it, just as Massey finds them, and as he ties up the duo he utters the only sane line in this film: “You two have children, that’s the really scary part.”

Calling this a disaster is too kind, and the result is made even more tragic by the fact that a member of the stunt crew died while filming one of the scenes. It is bad enough that people will have to see this title listed on their filmography, but it is inhuman to think it will forever be brandished on some person’s obituary. How anyone connected to this could not see the abject failings is inconceivable, because there is actually only one item of “Gone Fishin’” that was truly humorous: Joe Pesci passed on making a sequel to “My Cousin Vinny” in order to film this. The credits roll with our pair dropping their slacks and bending over, a fair metaphor for the way they treated the audience for ninety or so minutes.

Now if you ever happen to view this bilge, don’t curse Paul Mazursky too harshly for letting his progeny run rampant like this, because he eventually paid for his lack of guidance. Following this capsized attempt, his young Jill was the force behind a straight-to-video release called “Golf Punks,” appropriately starring Tom Arnold. I think Paul now understands where he erred, having to see something he never envisioned–his family’s name on a poster directly beside those chilling words–“National Lampoon”. That appears to have been just the thing to provoke the elder Mazursky into action. Jill hasn’t had a significant role in film production ever since.

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Brad Slager brings us a deep exploration into films that received a major studio release, with bankable star talent and a significant promotional campaign, and yet failed to receive the public’s attention. Brad trains his focus on those titles that have failed to register in the public conciousness–even for those who have seen them–and strives to find out what caused the problems, although he occasionally may digress into unrestrained flagellation. (For this we apologize.)

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Posted on June 18, 2003 in Features by
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