Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, James Belushi, John Waters, Karen Black, Tracey Walter, Vincent Schiavelli, Tad Horino, Pat Ast.
Box Notables: Impenetrably vague blurb
Tagline: ‘She’s ruthless – He’s witless – They’re on the road together and falling apart at the seams.’
Trailers: Mermaids, American Friends, Thelma and Louise, Trust, Navy SEALS
Cherrypick: “But I always have a milkshake before sex.”
Trashcan Costner/ambulatory meatbag Jim Belushi here invites us to join him in the belief that he is somehow extending his range by pantomiming brainless jock Homer J. Lanza through ‘89’s saltiest of capers, Homer and Eddie.
Deep-sixed by his snooty Commie parents to the bowels of some faraway dirt-farm sanatorium after getting beaned on the noggin by a rogue fly ball back in Little League, the hapless Homer has long since been abandoned to see out his days as a baseball-obsessed ‘mental retard’ (his words) sprawled across the Taco Bell menus and spent copies of 'Guns and Ammo' that litter the porch of the flyblown clapboard shitbox he now calls home. But when news reaches him that Dad has joined the Choir Invisible, Homer quits his job as pharmacological pin cushion to the local urine-cake factory, crams his billfold where the sun don’t shine and sets out across the sun-bleached skull-orchards of Utah for the funeral.
|'Squeal like a dainty cartoon pig, boy!'|
Physically essaying Homer’s disability by way of a ferocious side parting, the dainty gait of a cartoon pig and a facial expression redolent of an especially confounded Oliver Hardy, it comes as no small surprise that Belushi is robbed blind before he makes the city limits (by rat-faced filth-mill John Waters, no less). He therefore has little subsequent choice but to fall in with a Whoopi Goldberg who’s going totally postal with the role of escaped mentalist Edwina Cervi - a foul-mouthed Christian Scientist with a tumour the size of a Twinkie that is both eating her brain from within and forcing her to confuse acting with shouting.
Together they team up for a hokey, saccharine-veined road trip that rapidly devolves into a frabjous amalgam of Natural Born Killers fused with a One Flew Over the Muppet’s Nest that’s been improvised by junkies, filmed under feverish, sulphurous lighting on ever-changing film stocks and then splintered by a profitless barrage of gut-wrenching jump-cuts, and where the only thing mounting faster than the bodycount is our terrible apprehension that the two leads might actually Get It On. When Eddie casually blows away some dungareed hayseed in a gas station she’s holding-up in order to scrape together the cash to pay her aged, obese prostitute cousin for deflowering Homer, any remaining good will the viewer might hold out for the film crumbles like pre-War cannoli.
Plot-wise, that’s pretty much it until we finally reach the dank, Lynchian folds of the Oregon hills where Homer goes cataleptic at his father’s wake and Eddie is fatally gutshot while robbing a Wendy’s with a pitchfork. The feeling, however, that this last reel is taking place in one, both or either of the main characters’ subconscious minds - à la The Last Temptation of Christ - is hard to shake…
Helmed by the unzipped Russian mailsack behind gelid Jon Voight over-acting workshop Runaway Train and godless Sly Stallone/Kurt Russell clusterfuck Tango and Cash, H&E would seem to serve as the tenebrous celebration of one man’s unwholesome preoccupation with violently delusional fugitives and inelegant but otherwise nondescript automotive carnage. That it tellingly laboured under it’s working title, Jules et Jimbo, long into post-production is a sure sign of how deeply productions such as this had transported filmmaking into that lobe-spangling late-Eighties Bizzaro World where yo-yos like Belushi Minor were routinely indulged with zero sum gain vanity projects and the tenets of acceptable filmmaking had sunk so far beneath the plimsoll line that vapid crap like Rain Man and Driving Miss Daisy were regularly hoovering up Oscars.
|Ah, NOW it starts to make sense...|
Singing heartily from the ‘One for them, One for me’ hymn sheet, Jim would seem to have managed to convince/bribe/blackmail some swinish, calculating pony-tailed studio exec into readily agreeing that for every time they allowed him to pad out his thespian résumé with a Homer, he would in turn star in one of their bottomless fund of canine detective yarns (in this case, K-9) or any remaining variation of the prevalent ‘yuppie-peril’ parables still floating around development hell (Filofax). Now this is all very well and good, but it might have been nice if you’d though about making one for us every now and again, eh Bluto?
Much like dark matter, the mysteries of consciousness and the plot of Money Train, any effort to study, précis or fully convey the cosmic vagaries at play within H&E’s ninety pitiless minutes is swiftly cloaked by the terminally stifling robes of Heisenberg’s immutable Principle of Uncertainty that renders even the most well intentioned attempt at meaningful explanation foolish and titanically hubristic at best and fucking hard at worst.
Originally published in Little White Lies #15