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  Leonard Part 6 Pleased To Meat You
Year: 1987
Director: Paul Weiland
Stars: Bill Cosby, Tom Courtenay, Joe Don Baker, Moses Gunn, Pat Colbert, Gloria Foster, Victoria Rowell, Anna Levine, David Maier, Grace Zabriskie, Hal Bokar, George Maguire, John Hostetter, William Hall, George Kirby, Obba Babatundé, Jane Fonda
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is a shadowy organisation which has recently dedicated itself to killing off C.I.A. agents; take the latest one, where an agent was relaxing in his Californian pool with his girlfriend when there was a sudden commotion in the water and he was eaten by a homicidal rainbow trout. The Chief (Joe Don Baker) is having none of this, and decides there is only one course of action which is to drag Leonard Parker (Bill Cosby) out of retirement, but Leonard, in spite of being the greatest agent they ever had, is reluctant. He's more interested in pining after his estranged wife (Pat Colbert)...

If Bill Cosby had his way, nobody would ever have seen this film for he regarded it as a huge embarrassment, actually demanding the legions of fans he had amassed from his wildly popular television show not to watch it. He needn't have worried, for even with a global megastar in the lead, word quickly got around that Leonard Part 6 (the title was enough to confuse the unwary - "Where are the other parts, then?" etc) was a turkey that wouldn't even be welcome on Thanksgiving, never mind any other time of the year, and it sank without trace at the box office of 1987. Well, almost, as it did escape onto home video.

Cosby, evidently panicking ever so slightly, ensured that the TV rights would never be sold to anyone else so its exposure would be minimal, rendering this really something requiring effort to seek out if you were a bad movie fan. How he must have rankled at the notion of it appearing on DVD, but Columbia were keen to get at least some kind of financial return on their investment including the acres of egregious product placement, therefore chances are if you particularly wanted to see this, then your wish would have been granted: just consider yourself the object of Cosby's disdain. And maybe you wouldn't be too pleased with yourself, for that matter, as it was one of those films which might well have made you ashamed for thinking it was ever a good idea to watch in the first place.

Not the hardier bad movie aficionado, naturally, for whom the sight of Cosby riding an ostrich or ballet dancing was a dream come true, and summed up the overriding absurdity of the enterprise, if not conveying the essential lack of anything like a decent joke. Cosby, having written the story for this, had fallen back on a plot that would have seemed lazy even back in the sixties, the James Bond spy spoof, except here for reasons best known to himself he really had it in for vegetarians. Therefore main baddie Gloria Foster (best known for dying halfway through The Matrix sequels) not only refuses to eat meat, but neither do her costumed henchmen, not an especially big deal you might have thought, except she has taken this too far and is planning to use animals (and, er, washing up liquid) to kill off the human race.

Quite how being an animal lover equated with wanting the entirety of humanity dead doesn't appear to have crossed Cosby's mind, but that's not the only problem, as when Leonard was not donning special weapons suits and whatnot, he was trying to win back his wife and deal with his daughter (Victoria Rowell) getting engaged to Moses Gunn, forty-six years her elder, and also making her strip off onstage for his play (not that we see anything). These scenes of domestic strife, even though they're played out in lavish surroundings, are absolutely deadly to watch, and even when we're intended to take Leonard's heartache seriously nothing moves one to tears, never mind laughter. And yet, there was that "What the hell were they thinking?" quality to this which, if it was boring for long stretches, at least conjured up some imagery you were unlikely to have seen before, such as frogs bouncing a car into a river or Bill Cosby kissing Tom Courtenay (as his narrating butler) full on the lips. He kisses Moses Gunn, too. Whether you needed to see such things, well... Music by Elmer Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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