Dr Hicklar (Michael Caine) is an American (?) scientist who has just invented a brand new energy source, cold fusion, at his lab, but when the press ask him about his progress, he tells them the project was a failure since he would like to keep it a secret to make as much profit out of it as possible. He does tell his business partner Sir John Bevistock (Roger Moore) that they have a moneyspinner on their hands, but what they do not know is there a couple of conmen, Sidney Lipton (Caine again) and Garald Bradley-Smith (once again, Moore) who happen to look very like them and are drawing up plans to rob the two men of a fortune in diamonds. But first they need to get the right keys...
Let's get the Jim Bowen jokes out of the way first, you can't beat a bit of Bully, look at what you could have won, in which state of the United States was President Kennedy assassinated in Texas?, in one!, take yer time, 'e's pissin' deaf! and so on, but this was not an example of director Michael Winner taking leave of his senses and adapting the popular Sunday teatime darts-based television quiz, although it might well have been an example of Winner's misjudgements in other ways. This appeared long after the director had stopped making movies that won respectable notices and by now were the butt of jokes about just how low the British film industry had sunk by the early nineties before a light shone at the end of the tunnel from Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Full Monty and their ilk.
Whatever you thought of the Brit hits of this decade, Bullseye! was never going to be mentioned in the same breath, not even among those who liked it, because its small coterie of fans were watching it not thanks to its high quality but the opposite, because it was absolutely, stupendously dreadful. The story goes that stars Caine and Moore were fast friends yet had never worked on a film together, so when Winner proposed this, they were happy to sign up, the substantial cheque for their services not going unwelcomed either and a fine time was had by all. Note another name in the credits: Menahem Golan whose Cannon business had been responsible for more than its fair share of underachievers but he had a knack for raising funds, and now that eighties heyday was over he took to other productions as if it wasn't after all.
Certainly Bullseye! presented all the elements of bad taste both Winner and Golan were renowned for, which perversely made it strangely compelling in its tone deaf comedy. It's not as if it wasn't funny, parts of it were, but that was unintentionally down to such images as Caine and Moore relentlessly allowing their seriously non-lookalike stuntmen to take over for them at every item of physical exercise, be it crashing through a window on a rope, riding two to one motorbike, or even performing a roll on a carpet. One sequence saw the conmen get a key to the riches by luring the Rottweiler with it dangling around its neck towards a veritable harem of lady dogs which it proceeds to mount - all of this captured by Winner's camera - including the sight of the dog on the back of a flatbed truck shagging an Afghan hound driving around London suburbs.
Only it looks as if the dog coupling has been performed by two mechanical facsimiles. Does this mean some of the budget went on creating such a machine? You could spend hours listing the lunacies thrown up by Bullseye!, far more than it takes to watch, with Sir Rog making a pass at his own daughter (Deborah Moore), and she's playing a character who may be his fictional daughter too, Sir Mike's straining accent which makes his Cider House Rules Oscar seem an award for improving on his efforts here, Hicklar's name sounding like "Hitler" for no good reason, Sidney getting a nose job to look identical to him even though he does already, a train steward getting his head blown off by a shotgun in unconvincing but graphic detail, the running gag where an American tourist is delighted when his wife meets with mishaps ranging from falling in a loch to getting smashed in the skull with a throwing hammer, the celebrity cameos including Patsy Kensit with food poisoning, a curious preoccupation with Scotland for kilt humour... Well, you could go on. In its way, it's remarkable. Music by John Du Prez.