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  Zandalee Way Down Yonder In New OrleansBuy this film here.
Year: 1991
Director: Sam Pillsbury
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Judge Reinhold, Erika Anderson, Joe Pantoliano, Viveca Lindfors, Aaron Neville, Steve Buscemi, Ian Abercrombie, Marisa Tomei, Jo-El Sonnier, Newell Alexander, Blaise Delacroix, Eliott Keener, Richard Greenberg, John Cutler, Zach Galligan
Genre: Drama, Sex
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Zandalee (Erika Anderson) lives with her company boss husband Thierry (Judge Reinhold) in New Orleans, but their marriage has hit a snag because he is growing impotent and she is a young woman whose needs are still very much alive. Thierry used to be a poet, he was even published, and Zandalee feels that if he were to return to his former creativity then their marriage might improve. And then who should walk into their lives but Thierry's old college buddy Johnny Collins (Nicolas Cage), who he meets at a stag party? When Johnny gets to see how attractive Zandalee is, he plans to hang around...

In the wake of the likes of Nine 1/2 Weeks came quite a few softcore extravaganzas and few were more full of their own self-importance than Zanadalee. With every frame dripping with significance, it's no surprise that the film was greeted with a mixture of derision and hoots of laughter, with only the gratuitous nudity on the part of Anderson - who must set a record for the fastest disrobing of a leading lady in a non-porno movie - sustaining the interest and keeping it on the rental shelves. Unless there was someone who really wanted to see Judge Reinhold naked?

That's because he gets his kit off too, as does Cage predictably. This might have been quite amusing were it not for the incredibly po-faced nature of the drama unfolding as if it were an adaptation of great literature. The dialogue is no help, leaving the story groaning with pretention on one side and provoking giggles on the other. How are we supposed to take the likes of "I wanna shake ya naked and eat ya alive, Zandalee!"? Does that mean Johnny wishes to shake her until all her clothes fall off? Or maybe he's the one who is naked?

Yes, "erotic" is not the word as our unlikely trio sink into the depths of depression, summed up by one scene where Zandalee, after night of clubbing with her gay best friend, tries to seduce Thierry but only ends up crying and masturbating on the bed; not as much fun as laughing and masturbating, eh? She is then distracted by a lizard which she throws a book at, as if the lizard was the passion killer. Did I mention that her best friend is played by the egregiously-cast Joe Pantoliano in a dress? And that the cast are all putting on ludicrous Deep South accents to add to the hilarity? And that if Cage were any further over the top he'd topple out of the film?

Sadly, that hilarity cannot last forever and after a while the film's leaden mood takes its toll. Odd patches of risibility such as Johnny's green portrait of Thierry, which not even Reinhold's mother would hang on her wall, and sex scenes that include dubious use of olive oil and an unfortunate encounter in a confession booth do little to dispel the sense of a film going out of its way to be provocative and falling flat on its face. Eventually the three leads go on holiday together like in a British sitcom movie and tragedy is not far away, although it could be seen as a blessing to the viewer who does not have to sit through any more of this disastrous endurance test. Let's face it, Nine 1/2 Weeks was bloody awful too, and its imitators would trouble few people's all time top ten lists. Zandalee was little different, better suited to the all time worst lists. Music by Pray for Rain.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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