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Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
Rated R

Starring: Arsenio Hall, Ed Begley, Jr., and Michelle Pfieffer

Rating:
**
out of
*****

Sometimes movie makers try to pack too much of a good thing into a single film. Or, as in the case of Amazon Women on the Moon, they can think they're adding lots of good things when, in fact, they're diluting the film into a soupy mess.

Amazon Women on the Moon is a compilation of loosely intertwined comedy bits that attempt to emulate an evening of watching a late-night movie on a cash strapped TV station. Directors Joe Dante, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Horton, John Landis and Robert K. Weiss each contribute several bits containing varying degrees of humor. Some of the sketches are spoofs of commercials. Others are spoofs of movie advertisements and others are satires of TV shows. Each of them is connected by the only reliably funny part of the film: a spoof of 1950's science fiction films called "Amazon Women on the Moon."

Joe Dante, better known for Gremlins than anything appearing here, contributes the biggest hunk of the bad stuff. Only a jab at Sy Sperling's Hair Club for Men, which features rugs as a replacement for hair, is worth watching. The rest are overlong and tiresome, especially a bit about a funeral service/comedy roast featuring Rip Taylor and Charlie Callas.

John Landis, who's produced comedy films like The Blues Brothers and Coming to America, musters up some fairly humorous sketches here, but most seem a bit out of place in the context of the TV station atmosphere that the movie is attempting to maintain. Only "Blacks without Soul" follows the format and works.

"Son of the Invisible Man", a spoof of the Invisible Man movies of the 1940's by Carl Gottlieb, is excellent. Ed Begley, Jr. plays a mad scientist who thinks he's invisible and we follow him to the local bar where walks naked and toys with the patrons who are on to his act and reluctantly play along. Unfortunately, Gottlieb only has two other sketches in the film.

Peter Horton, who's also featured as an actor in one of John Landis' sketches, also supplies one sketch. It's too bad that he's only got one shot in this film because his advertisement for a device that, with the help of two forms of identification, gives the entire sexual background of a potential mate is hilarious.

The best bit is courtesy of Robert K. Weiss. His "Amazon Women on the Moon" is a great dig at the 1950's oversexed science fiction genre film. Featuring great sight gags, tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo and appropriately cornball special effects, Weiss captures the exact cheezy quality of the era while garnering intentional laughs in the process.

The problem with a film like this is that the material isn't consistently funny or worth watching. Having to wade through the crap to get to the good stuff isn't rewarding enough. Luckily, being that this is on video, the fast forward button is never too far out of reach.

Trivia: In the "Amazon Women on the Moon" sketch, Forrest J. Ackerman, publisher of the magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, appears as the president. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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