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  Adventures of Ford Fairlane, The Rock 'n' Roll Dick
Year: 1990
Director: Renny Harlin
Stars: Andrew Dice Clay, Wayne Newton, Priscilla Presley, Morris Day, Lauren Holly, Maddie Corman, Gilbert Gottfried, David Patrick Kelly, Brandon Call, Robert Englund, Ed O'Neill, Vince Neil, Sheila E., David Arnott, Mark Goldstein, Cody Jarrett, Kari Wuhrer
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ford Fairlane (Andrew Dice Clay) is a genuine rock 'n' roll detective, working in Los Angeles and the music scene and making his cash from his showbusiness clients. The one event everyone is talking about at the moment is the death of rock star Bobby Black (Vince Neil) who after making his entrance sliding from a cliff face to the stage was a few lines into his song when he suddenly began choking and died in front of thousands of fans. Ford doesn't know it yet, but this will become very significant in his next case, though he is currently more interested in bringing Sam (David Patrick Kelly) to justice, which he does by tracking him to a bar, pulling him through the glasses, and shooting the glitterball onto Sam's head...

Basically Cocaine: The Movie, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane was an attempt to capitalise on the shortlived success of reactionary comedian Clay, whose forte was pandering to his audience of young males and their worst instincts, delivering routines that insulted women, homosexuals and American minorities in a manner deliberately designed to incite controversy, and therefore increase his publicity to maximum. But there's only so far he could take that before he was found out as a one trick pony, and by the point Clay's big movie came out, produced by meatheaded action flick specialist Joel Silver, it was pretty much all over for the comic and his flash in the pan.

Ironically, when he made his comeback the next century, Woody Allen cast him in Blue Jasmine and Clay proved he could act all along, and rather well at that, though not enough for anyone but the fans of yesteryear to seek to reassess Ford Fairlane as not as bad as it was supposed in 1990. Renny Harlin was the director, and this was the gig that got him Die Hard 2 and a slightly longer run of success on blockbusters than his star, but it didn't last either and he managed to get himself a reputation as one of the worst directors around that proved hard to shift, in spite of entertaining films in his catalogue. You could say these two deserved one another, particularly in a film - more or less as artistically successful a vehicle as Roy Chubby Brown's U.F.O. on a thousand times the budget - that appeared to have been scripted during drugs binges when anything went.

Anything except making a movie that would look good to anyone able to sit down and watch it without either an appreciation for Clay well-fostered, or a nose full of Colombian marching powder, though they may have a time struggling to follow it. They were in luck: it wasn't worth following, it was a succession of scenes operating as action movie comedy sketches, barely strung together with a modicum of respect for anything except the masses of money they were spending on it. Even so, there might have been something bracing in viewing an effort so designed to shock, but it wasn't that so much as a bunch of nubile women decorating some character actors and the occasional music star (Motley Crue's Neil, Morris Day from Purple Rain, Tone Loc from, er, Tone Loc anyway) as they smugly went through the motions.

Everything about the performances here said "easy money", and the minimum of effort was given over to the likes of Lauren Holly, hoping for that big break as Clay's love interest and secretary who basically does the detection for him, not ironically either. The gratuitous koala puppet even looked to be phoning in his performance, but in spite of the atmosphere of sleaze, nobody took their clothes off and the thought of Ford actually having a sexual relationship in spite of his braggadocio came across like science fiction, he was all mouth and no trousers. With the plot having him trace a missing teenager belonging to Gilbert Gottfried (who had about ten lines then Gottfried got fried), Priscilla Presley and Wayne Newton together at last as shady showbiz types, Robert Englund doing a Billy Idol impersonation and so forth, it was of its time and that time was the thumping eighties hangover. Strictly for the Diceman's nostalgists, then, but oddly compelling in its overstimulated manner - well, until Clay does his Shakin' Stevens impression halfway through. Music by Yello.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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