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Case Number 02339: Small Claims Court

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: I Accuse My Parents

Rhino // 1945 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // October 25th, 2002

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All Rise...

The Charge

Otherwise known as James and the Giant Fuzzy Navel

The Case

James "Jimmy" Wilson is a high school senior whose life is about to become one big twelve-step program. Seems the Wilson clan loves the bottle, and the sweet clear and brown liquors that pour forth. The craving and intake of fermented grain are compounding poor Jimbo's self esteem issues, that is, when he can work up a decent personal perception. After winning the 14th Annual Jim Beam Essay Contest for Young People (The theme? Gin Blossoms—Flowers or Family Legacy), the upright school snob gobs invite JJ's Madre to play the town lush in their Little Theater production of Barfly, the Musical. Unfortunately, Mom is too "method" in her intoxication for the other players, and they send Jimmy and his mashed mother to laughing, not summer, stock. On a whim, he starts selling shoes, and there he meets Kitty Reed, a blousy blonde nightclub entertainer. She immediately falls (like her arches) for the flat-foot fitter. He hangs out at her swanky all-ages nightclub and swoons as she croons a tune about…employment? Anyway, seems that Kitten is caged to mob boss Charles Blake, who determines that the best way to keep Jimberee from petting his kept feline is to hire him on as a rube. So in between Scotch and ice cream sodas and a continuous stream of life affirming lies, Master Wilson gets deeper and deeper into racketeering. When a botched heist leaves a security guard dead, it dawns on Jimmy that the 50 large per week he was pulling down as a "package" runner for Blake may have had some nefarious underpinnings to it. So he leaves his pickled parents a recipe for Rob Roys and does the honorable thing. He hits the road, Jack! A kindly diner owner who looks like he's carved from granite and Lawrence Tierney's jowl meat takes a shine to our little lost lush and sets him on the right path with that most sobering of personal palate cleansers: the hamburger sammich! James decides to give himself up and is brought before the court system to answer for his felonious fascinations, where he then commits the noblest, 1990s style act: he ACCUSES his parents (hurrah!).

As a genre, the juvenile delinquency cautionary tale is about as dry as the Wilson's quarter hourly martini and as sedate a depressant as alcohol itself. More times than not, the movie revolves around a crime or crime spree with the youth in question inadvertently, or misguidedly involved. Well, I Accuse My Parents doesn't sway very far off this well trodden territory. It links booze to bad guys and brash dames in a manner that would confuse even Foster Brooks. But it does provide something that even the most outlandish of the lost youth films fails to include. MUSIC! That's right, nothing spells larceny and drug running like a good show tune. Frankly, any excuse to have Mary Beth Hughes' Kitty Reed sing is one too many. Her Doris Day on downers droning makes multiphonic tone lowing Tibetan monks sound like Parliament/Funkadelic. Whenever we need a window into the workings of her banana curled brain, Arnie Muckluck and his Gentleman Swingers break out the beguine and it's off to the vocal races for Ms. Hughes. Unfortunately, the old nag never even places. It sounds suspiciously like she's breathing atonally more than singing. And the subject matter she shrieks about leaves one wondering: who thinks this way? If you're in love, you'll be happy in your work? Why? Understanding the inner workings of a personal relationship will cause the skinning and gutting of flounder, or the telemarketing of workout videos seem like a trip to Joy Junction? So then, how do you explain the lyrical lament later on in the film that love came between you and your beau? Do you want him happy on the job, in the home, or what? Frankly, Miss Reed, just what does love got to do with it?

But let's not forget the reoccurring, and regurgitating theme of hooch that flows throughout the movie like moonshine at an Appalachian shotgun wedding. Everyone in this film is an alcoholic, either in principle, practice or in predetermination (which explains a lot about Calvinists). When high school kids pass up a highball, proclaiming that they have been "hitting it pretty hard" for the last few months, one can only wonder what a day in Mr. Patterson's fourth period shop class must be like. You can just hear chatter now: "BUZZZZZT!!!! AARRGGHH!!!! Mr. Patterson, George had too many sloe gin fizzes at lunch and ripped the top of his hand off with the belt sander…AGAIN!" The fact that Jimmy's mom and dad would give Dylan Thomas or Ben Affleck a run for their champagne magnum isn't surprising. It's the idea that they live like 1960s hippies that startles the post-modern viewer. Parents in the '40s were usually presented as uptight warmongers and fighters, locked into a moral dichotomy so stringent that it cut off the circulation to their pleasure centers. But the Mr. And Mrs. Wilson presented here are like Janis and Jimmy, minds whacked out on wowee sauce, ready to swing and share their love of liquor and each other with the rest of the country club and cocktail set. And like a 1980s teen flick as directed by Preston Sturges, featuring the cast of "Arsenic and Old Crow," when someone suggests taking this drunken orgy to the beach for a little sand sifting, everyone shouts likes it's VE day. Between the caterwauling of Kitty and his parents' raging rye rashes, it's no wonder Jimmy choose a life of unsuspected crime.

This is one of the best overall episodes of MST3K. Everything, from the skits to the short subject, is absolutely hilarious. The Truck Farmer, a 15-minute ode to migrant slave labor and fresh vegetables, starts the laughter rolling with an incredibly naïve look at the reasons why people travel from underdeveloped nations to pick Capitalist America's three-bean salad. And why we should worship the flash freezing and canning of carrots. In the breaks between the film, the sketches including Joel's robot psychoanalysis and the recreation of Kitty's big ballroom blitz, with Gypsy in fine lip syncing form, are priceless. Too bad Rhino doesn't do much else with this disc other than offer a wonderfully crisp, non-flaring digital version of the episode. There are no extras: no original, uncut version of the film (can't imagine much, if anything, was taken out, though—maybe a scene with mixers?), no trailer, not even ads for other Rhino MST3K titles. And while it would have been nice to bulk up the bare bones of this DVD, any permanent version of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode is worth its weight in wonderfulness alone. While it is justified to indict Rhino for failing to flesh out this package, the majority of the blame should be born out by Sid Newfield and the creators of this plastered picture. While the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, it is important to acknowledge the interventionist tactics of MST3K. Without their comedic crisis skills, someone may actually feel the need to revisit I Accuse My Parents straight, no commentary chaser. And not even Kitty Dukakis should stoop so low.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Rhino
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1945
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Classic
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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