||I had seen the Anna Nicole Smith (ANS) vehicle To The Limit in the mid-Nineties, before the bountiful blonde became a household name, and considered reviewing it a few years ago. But, suddenly, Anna was being seen--and ridiculed--everywhere one turned, to the point that writing anything about her would have made your not-so-humble narrator an accessory to the piling on the, um, "unusual" widow was suffering through.
By the time 2006 rolled around, however, the feeding frenzy had petered out (at least for the moment), and it felt plausible to review the ANS actioner without giving the false impression I too had joined the hordes of torch-bearing villagers marching towards Caste Smithstein to slay the misunderstood "monster."
Limit's opening credit, "A Raymond Martino Picture," teases plenty of promise. Not that I ever actually heard of the man; but an ensuing graphic boasting FIVE cast members with the same surname as the producer is always a fantastic omen entertainment a-plenty is right around the bend.
Hang on, fine-arts fans, it gets even better. A moment after Ray's initial credit, we learn the male lead is Travolta! That's right, the studly hunk working opposite the buoyant blonde is JT himself! Sure, Mr. Martino could have gotten Frank Stallone or Don Swayze, but, no, he laid out the major moolah needed to lure Joey Travolta to the project!!!
No doubt the late Mama Travolta would have beamed with pride over the fact that, at last, one of her brood was making quality pics. And Joey, with the bio claiming he was born in 1950, doesn't look a day over sixty in this 1995 release, making him a perfect physical match for Anna, who my research assistant just this second told me "was around 42" at the time. What's that, Ivan? You weren't talking about her age?
We're starting off on a roll and, in the following half-hour, Limit provides:
- a mercenary saying "Thank you werry werry much"--to illustrate he's Russian, you understand
- naked strippers within the first six minutes, Anna taking a bare bath by the 7:15 mark, and nude ANS coaxing herself to a climax less than five minutes later
- a Vietnam flashback
- an exploding helicopter...and then ANOTHER one
- a hanger-on who--yes, in '95 and Vegas heat--is wearing a fringed suede jacket and is referred to as "Elvis"
- the arrival of stereotypical greaseballs from the old neighborhood. (I take it you film fans already know we Italian-Americans are all mob-connected food lovers who begin every third sentence by exclaiming "Hey!" You got a problem with that? Perhaps cousin Vito escorting you to your vehicle will change your tune.)
In addition to Anna explaining a theft with "It was stoleden," and a pistol with a silencer making a full-volume bang, the final few reels of this pulse-pounder build up to back-to-back battles: weapons warfare followed by a three-way showdown twixt the film's troika of key figures.
During the former, ANS is clearly backstabbed by a ninja-type, yet she shows up unscathed for the next day's finale. Come to think of it, who could blame her for not wanting to miss out on said scintillating scene?
You see, the story's central theme concerns gaining possession of a golden CD full of incriminating files. So what becomes of this precious disk at the end?
Anna flicks it into the principle baddie's forehead--plastic having no problem penetrating thick bone, natch--then the distressed and distracted villain is shot, and for good measure, the slugs' impact sends him hurtling off the Hoover Dam...with the disk still lodged in his dome. In other words, the sequence negates the entire point of everything that came before it--yet Ms. Smith and Mr. Travolta are beaming!!!
(Then again, Joey may still be basking in the afterglow of the sex scene he had with ANS just before the bullets began flying. Hmm, that Posturepedic pumping did seem awfully superfluous. I wonder who scripted it. Well, whattaya know, the writer was one Joey Travolta.)
Despite all of the above, I'll call To The Limit "recommended with reservations." It's got all those classic junkfilm features at the start and a wonderfully inane finish, but, unfortunately, nothing much of interest occurs in between.
Still, it does satisfy the "curiosity factor" for those wondering what the (chronologically) 27-year-old Anna was like before she got her second 15 minutes, or fetishist with a thing for hideously unnatural-appearing, cantaloupe-size breast implants, no matter who's wearing them. And besides, it can usually be found on tape at Halfcon and the like for about 98 cents; so, how wrong can you go?
Which reminds me...anyone want to take a guess where I've picked up more DVDs in the past half-year than anywhere else? The freakin' Dollar Store.
I am absolutely serious about this. Buried somewhere between the essential Moon Pies and disposable weapons--er, I mean "household supplies"--you'll often find a sloppy stack of vid disks of varying genres. And a whole bunch of them are double features!
Granted, you have to do a little judicious sorting to separate trash from treasure, but it's well worth it. Among the DVDs I've bagged for a buck in just the past few months are: Dario Argento's Deep Red; a two-fer of extremely early appearances by Bobby D (that's "Mr. DeNiro" to you outsiders); The Undertaker And His Pal; an Anita Ekberg Europic; and a print of The Curse Of The Swamp Creatures that was noticeably better than the one I had previously purchased for nine times the price.
Even if you were to pluck out ten pics and only dug half of them, you're still copping five keepers for a sawbuck. It's safe to say you will never get a better buy on a DVD library.
Unless, of course, "It was stoleden."