Judge Mitchell Hattaway says that Cloud 9 is full of Number 2.
Beach volleyball just got hotter.
And Burt Reynolds's career just got colder.
Facts of the Case
A shiftless loser turns five strippers into a championship volleyball team. The end.
Here's all you need to know about Cloud 9: it's a direct-to-video release starring Burt "I've totally screwed up my Boogie Nights comeback" Reynolds. Feel free to skip the remainder of this review.
If Cloud 9 had been produced twenty years ago, it probably would have contained enough tasteless jokes and gratuitous nudity to make it at least watchable. Too bad times have changed, because what you get here is really nothing more than a PG-13 flick with a dubious marketing campaign. If you pick up this release, look at the cover and read the plot summary. You'll be expecting a hilarious, jiggle-filled sex romp, but what you get is no sex and almost no jiggle (I only counted two instances of jiggling). You also don't get any good jokes. It took three people to write this thing and they couldn't come up with a single laugh. Well, that's not entirely true. I did laugh a couple of times, but that was when the movie tried to get serious, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be laughing. And I also laughed when Burt, moving slower than a slug trapped on a salt lick, somehow managed to beat up two guys who are less than half his age, but again I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be laughing.
Okay, so if you don't get any sex or laughs, what do you get? Well, you get another exceedingly stupid flick in which a bunch of misfits are inexplicably molded into a winning sports team in less time than it takes to boil an egg. Everything falls into line exactly as you would expect. Conman Billy Cole (that would be Burt) finds some strippers, baits them with promises of fame and fortune, and then employs the help of the stoner who sleeps on his couch (where this stoner, who is named Jackson and is played by Roll Bounce co-star Paul Wesley, came from and why he sleeps on the couch in Billy's trailer is never explained) to turn the young women into a well-oiled athletic machine. Of course, it takes more than an aging conman and his stoner bud to teach strippers to play volleyball, so Billy also enlists the aid of Tenspot (D.L. Hughley, Soul Plane), a chauffer who occasionally helps Billy trespass on the property of vacationing celebrities (Billy is also Tenspot's adoptive father, for completely arbitrary reasons). And any good volleyball team needs a sponsor, so Billy cons his boss into ponying up some money for team t-shirts. Who is Billy's boss? Well, Billy's boss is Mr. Wong, who runs a nursery/landscaping business. Mr. Wong is portrayed by comedian Paul Rodriguez (Born in East L.A.). See, Mr. Wong's real name is Juan, but Juan grew a Fu Manchu mustache, adopted a stereotypical Asian accent, and always carries around a bonsai tree. Why does Juan do all of this? Because an Asian man who works around plants can be viewed as a landscaper, while any Latino who works around plants will always be nothing more than a gardener. (Comedy gold, huh?) You also get cameos from Gary Busey, Tom Arnold, and Tony Danza, appearing as themselves and looking like they'd rather be somewhere else (except Busey, who of course looks like he has no idea where he is or what he's doing).
What about the strippers themselves? Well, I am going to avoid mentioning by name any of the actresses portraying them (other than complimenting them on their physical attributes, I really have nothing to say about them), with the exception of Angie Everhart (Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood). Angie plays a character named Julie, who was forced to give up her dream of being whatever it was she dreamed of being before her college boyfriend knocked her up and took off. Julie is some sort of den mother to the other strippers, and she thinks Billy is just out to exploit the other women and make a fast buck. She changes her mind after Billy beats up two guys who think all strippers are really prostitutes and are harassing her as she walks to her car after leaving the strip club. She sees that Billy really does care for the strippers and isn't such a bad guy after all. This is a good thing, too, because one of the strippers is injured during a subsequent match and has to sit out the big tournament. Well, wouldn't you know it, Julie just happened to be a volleyball player in college and was headed to the Olympics before she got knocked up (which I guess makes being an Olympic athlete the dream she was forced to give up). Julie steps in and the strippers somehow manage to defeat the best women's volleyball team on the planet. Ain't life grand? (Somebody needs to tell Angie to stop signing up for parts requiring her to spend a lot of time in the sun. The character she plays here is almost ten years younger than Angie actually is, and given that Angie is starting to look older than she actually is, her frequent close-ups don't help sell her performance.)
Before we wrap things up, I'd like to point out that this movie was co-written and produced by Albert S. Ruddy. Mr. Ruddy also produced The Godfather. Not too long ago he was on stage with Clint Eastwood, accepting the Best Picture Oscar for Million Dollar Baby. What did Mr. Ruddy do in between producing such illustrious films? He helped bring Megaforce and Cannonball Run II to the big screen. Now he brings us Cloud 9. Gee, thanks. I guess Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid scribe William Goldman was right—when it comes to the movie business, nobody knows anything.
Cloud 9 heads for oblivion sporting a rather nice transfer. Aside from a few very grainy shots of the horizon, the video is clean and clear, with good colors and flesh tones (always a plus in a movie like this). The audio presents a nice spread across the front channels, but the surrounds are underutilized. Given that this movie often gets quite loud—especially during the interminable music montages—I think someone dropped the ball by so infrequently incorporating the rear half of the soundstage. Dialogue is always intelligible, and there is some good low-end activity. Extras include a brief featurette during which Burt explains how he had to choreograph the movie's ludicrous fight scene because the director didn't have a clue (duh), and a series of outtakes from Gary Busey's bizarre, unfunny cameo scene, during which he berates his dog for leaving Chihuahua bombs all over the lawn. Lastly, there's a short making-of featurette, during which Burt becomes a snake oil salesman and tries to favorably compare this flick to the original The Longest Yard (another gem in the uneven career of Albert S. Ruddy). Yeesh.
I hope the cast's paychecks didn't bounce. Well, a little part of me kind of hopes they did.
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Scales of Justice
• "Hoosiers Meets Hooters: Behind Cloud 9" Featurette
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