Judge Christopher Kulik said "whoopee" only once during this film—when it was over.
These boys have a thing or two to show high society!
Let me let you in on a little secret: I'm a huge Three Stooges fan. I'm part of the Knucklehead membership. I still anxiously awaiting the other Sony volumes on DVD. And, I always grow leary when some people try to imitate the masters. I'm not exactly talking in terms of eye-poking slapstick, but social satire. Trading Places did just that, updating the hoi polloi theme of heredity vs. environment, but I loved that movie, mostly because it had a host of talented actors. As for The Whoopee Boys, it's a lewd, crude, sometimes downright disgusting farce with some second-rate comediens. Alas, it's also almost completely devoid of laughs.
The basic story—what there is of it—concerns two obnoxious street vendors named Jake Bateman (Michael O'Keefe, Michael Clayton) and Barney Benar (Paul Rodriguez, Blood Work), who flee NYC. They (somehow) find themselves in Palm Beach, Florida and (somehow) get involved with a beautiful heiress who runs a school for needy children. Unless she gets married in 30 days to a high society "gentleman," the school will (somehow) be bought and turned into condos. While Jake takes a liking to her, he decides to prove he can be a worthy husband by (somehow) enrolling in a charm school.
Despite the fact there are three people responsible for writing this, I laughed only once throughout the whole film…and the joke wasn't all that funny. It's stunning to think that the writers behind the hilarious Revenge Of The Nerds (Steve Zacharias & Jeff Buhai), conjured this crap up. It was if one day, while living off their Nerds royalties, they were inspired to write this film after watching those old Stooges shorts. The other film they wrote in 1986—Last Resort with Charles Grodin—was much better, which clues into the possibility their script was heavily re-written by David Obst (the third credited writer) and Paul Rodriguez, a stand-up comic who no doubt demanded some improv.
The biggest difference between Nerds and Whoopee Boys is the characters in the former were not only funny but likable. Plus, Nerds had a point—a resonant underlying underdog story. As for these Boys, they are brought together for lame reasons, journey down to Florida for lame reasons, then move into this heiress' home after barely meeting her??? The charm school participants present themselves like foul-mouthed puppets and Barney's only purpose to is provide a string of cock-and-balls jokes, all of which sound like rough edits out of Adam Sandler's comedy albums.
As a comedy, The Whoopee Boys attempts to be fish-out-of-water, but it ends up being fish-out-of-toilet. Many of the gags include belching, farting, vomiting, and masturbation, as well as predictable, politically incorrect potshots, none of which even Borat would find amusing. In the end, it stretches its flimsy premise to the breaking point, relying mostly on Rodriguez' stand-up roots and contribitions by a number of '80s comedians, who all must have been desperate for work.
Surprisingly enough, this film was directed by John Byrum, who made a name for himself (sort of), with the cult film Inserts starring Richard Dreyfuss. Later on, he directed and co-wrote (with star Bill Murray), the 1984 remake of The Razor's Edge which was pretty good, but a box office failure. As far as The Whoopee Boys is concerned, Byrum is just not suited for this comic material. His direction is lazy and dull. The end result? A paltry $400,000 box office return and Byrum would never direct a theatrical film again.
There is no denying there's a lot of talent in front and behind the camera. Still, none of them are able to help this catastrophe. Michael O'Keefe (best known for Caddyshack and playing Fred on Roseanne) plays the boring straight man, and he looks bored every second he's onscreen. Eddie Deezan (Grease) does his usual dork routine, Marsha Warfield (Night Court) plays a pissed-off cop, and the ever-missed Denholm Elliott (Raiders Of The Lost Ark) is no doubt asking himself (in every scene) why Spielberg didn't cast him in Temple Of Doom. What a waste!
I'm not sure if Paramount was grooming The Whoopee Boys as a vehicle for Paul Rodriguez. In many ways, the script was tailored just for him, as he would spout a bunch of "funny" one-liners while everyone else was given limited amounts of screen time. By the time the film hit, Rodriguez was already a known LA comic who even had his own one season sitcom (a.k.a. Pablo). In my opinion, he makes Tommy Chong look like Gilbert Gottfried. The character's only goal is to offend people (including the viewer), which makes me wonder why they didn't get someone funny, like Andrew Dice Clay, who would have been perfect. Script problems aside, Rodriguez' line delivery is amateurish and his performance abjectly painful.
This barely-released bomb comes to DVD for the first time courtesy of Legend Films. The picture quality is actually much better than I expected, considering most of their DVD releases have had a faded, washed-out, VHS look. Colors are reasonably bright. Black levels are good. Scratches are on-and-off, but not much of a distraction. Audio is a solid Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, with dialogue easily heard (unfortunately), and Jack Nitzche's score sadly scarce in lieu of some stupid songs (including a grating title tune performed by Rodriguez over the end credits). Among all the Paramount films Legend has been putting out, this may be the only one with extras: two theatrical trailers, which are no doubt edited 30-second TV spots.
When I was doing my research for this film, I checked out other user comments at IMDb and nearly fell out of my seat. Practically every single post (14 in total) were highly praising the film, some even calling it their favorite comedy! I found that rather disturbing, but to each his own. At least someone will be going "whoopee" over this DVD release. For everyone else, unless you find lines like "Cold weather shrinks my dick!" or "Jesus, somebody placed a dump in the bidet," I would advise you to make whoopee somewhere else. The film is hereby found guilty, while Rodriguez is sentenced to an East LA prison for making the worst jokes this side of a Pauly Shore. Court is adjourned!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Legend Films
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