Aug 17, 2014

Review: Lady Killers (2003)

National Lampoon, a magazine that traces its beginnings to 1970 before ending its publication in 1998. Originally just a collection of crude, sometimes intelligent comedy, it branched out into a variety of media to include film. Movies like Animal House and Vacation look like oddities now if you look at all of the National Lampoons productions and Lady Killers doesn't do anything to dispel that notion.

There are some pretty shoddy productions from National Lampoon throughout its history and that's because anyone could lease the National Lampoon name. Make a bad movie and slap National Lampoon on the poster and there you have it. A funny movie, in theory only though. What a way to ruin a brand eh? I wonder what a touch of quality control could have done. The rights were then bought by a company that named itself National Lampoon Inc. and has made a collection of movies that can summed up as frat boy trash since 2002. Lady Killers was their first film attempt and it looks like it went through a name change once it was released on DVD to Gold Diggers. I'm sticking with its original theatrical title though.


Genre: comedy, crime
Directed by: Gary Preisler
Produced by: Don Ashley, Amy Greenspun, Gary Preisler, etc.
Written by: Gary Preisler
Music by: Chris Horvath
Running time: 90 minutes
Production company: Delfino Entertainment, National Lampoon Productions, Voyage Entertainment, etc.
Distributed by: P&A Distributors, Lady Killers Productions LLC
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: $527,000 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Will Friedle, Chris Owen, Louise Lasser, Renée Taylor, Nikki Ziering, Rudy De Luca, Jack Ong, J.J. Cole, Carmen Twillie, Gabriel Bologna




Calvin Menhoffer (Will Friedle) and Leonard Smallwood (Chris Owen) want what everyone wants: love, money and sex. They're also idiots and they try to commit petty crimes that will apparently net them enough money to get all the love and sex they want (Yeah, I don't think stealing handbags is a sustainable way of making enough to be rich). Sisters Doris and Betty Mundt (Louise Lasser and Renée Taylor) are recent victims of Calvin and Leonard, but they have problems of their own. They're in financial straits so they figure that by their two aggressors out, they can seduce them, marry them, insure them and then kill them for the insurance settlement. Calvin and Leonard figure that Doris and Betty are super rich so they too decide that marriage is the best option and then live off the new found wealth they deserve. 


There is basically nothing good about Lady Killers but I guess that comes as no surprise. The acting is beyond horrendous from both the young and old characters and I think that part of that comes from the direction. I guess there's no good way to deliver unfunny lines but clearly more effort could've been made. I guess the goal here is to shoot everything quickly and minimize the number of takes to keep costs down. 

Cheap racist jokes about Asian people and African-Americans are included and it's astounding just how low the creators of Lady Killers are willing to stoop to try and manufacture a laugh. The main course in terms of jokes is about how icky it is for an old woman to have sex with a young guy. There are some of the most awkward sex scenes possibly ever filmed for entertainment purposes and they're just sad attempts at making you feel grossed out. It's so lame and I wonder how all the actors involved felt about doing these kinds of scenes.

What's strange about Lady Killers is that it's not something you pick if you're not looking to be surprised. National Lampoon is like a billboard announcing sexy women who are going to show their breasts. That's basically its main mission. Stupid humour + breasts. Nikki Ziering was a Playboy model at one point and is the main attraction when it comes to showing skin. The thing is, there is maybe around five minutes of breasts that belong to young women while all other breasts belong to mature actress Renée Taylor. I'm sure that this left a lot of young males very disappointed which is pretty funny if you think about it.

With casual racist humour and ever other attempted joke falling flat, I can't imagine the scriptwriter of Lady Killers ever having another job in Hollywood again. Lady Killers is the only movie that Gary Preisler has ever directed and he never wrote another screenplay again, settling for producer duties. Thank God for that. I don't know what it took to get Louise Lasser and Renée Taylor to agree to such demeaning roles but I'm sure they were as relieved as I was when it was all over. Lady Killers is far from the kind of bad movie that's fun to watch. 



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