Friday, December 27, 2013

This New Years Eve, get caught in the delicious grip of 'ANACONDA'. Your sides will ache -- with laughter!

No single movie in the annals of cheesy aquatic flicks fashioned after Jaws -- we're talking Orca, Killer Fish, Tentacles and Jaws 2, 3 and 4 -- has ever provided more unintentional laughs than Anaconda
When "low budget Jacques Cousteau" Eric Stoltz sets sail down the Amazon to make a documentary on a famously elusive Brazilian tribe, he takes with him the least likely boatmates assembled since "Gilligan's Island": USC film school grads Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube, surfer dude Owen Wilson, disco-livin' wanton Kari Wuhrer, Tim Curry imitator Jonathan Hyde, and inexplicably menacing captain Vincent Castellanos. "Pray you didn't forget your bug spray," Stoltz says to these dubious companions. What they really need, though, is B-movie repellant, since they come upon stranded Jon Voight, who, despite the exotic surroundings, is instantly recognizable as that staple of the civilized world, pure Spam.

Playing a "failed priest" from Paraguay (by way of Marlon Brando U.), Voight proceeds to mumble, mush and gargle his dialogue in an accent that is completely unidentifiable but which mercifully makes most of what he has to say incomprehensible. "Ah trap snaaakes fer a libbing," he informs us. (Out of consideration for our readers, the remainder of Voight's line readings have been translated back into English.) When a wasp sneaks into Stoltz's mouth (don't ask), putting him into an unconscious state for 90 percent of the film (obviously, Stoltz took one look at either the Amazon or Voight and demanded to be written out of this story), Voight is free to mislead the would-be documentarians into treacherous waters. You'll be grateful he does, since that's all that saves us from shot after shot of Lopez cooing at comatose Stoltz.

Turns out Voight is an anaconda fanatic who hopes to catch one of the 40-foot-long snakes to take back to civilization for beeeeg money (perhaps Voight had an inkling he might never work again after his performance here). The sinister reptile wrangler helpfully explains the lure of the anaconda: "It strikes, wraps around you, holds you tighter than your true love, and you get the privilege of hearing your bones break before the power of its embrace causes your veins to explode."

When an anaconda that is clearly not quite ready to be taken to the civilized world kills captain Castellanos, Lopez, Ice Cube et al. become further disenchanted with the Spam in their midst. "Don't make me out a monster -- I didn't eat the captain," Voight snaps in his own defense. (No, that's the scenery he's chewing.) At this point the killer snake, which looks for all the world like two flashlights mounted behind plastic eyes atop a rogue firehose, provokes further hilarity by leaping onto the boat to gobble down Wilson, who deserves to die for having said things like, "Is it just me, or does the jungle make you really, really horny?" How on earth can this boatload of filmmakers hope to get out of the clutches of dialogue like this and the overacting Voight?

Employing the wisdom of the ages, Lopez applies a fresh coat of pastel pink lipstick and proceeds to vamp Voight by cooing, "I thought this movie would be my first big break. Instead, it's turned into a disaster." Were truer words ever spoken? Needless to say, Voight succumbs to Lopez's charms, whereupon the other voyagers crash in and Hyde bashes him over the head with a golf club, crying, "Asshole in one!"

Voight will do anything to get free again, and we do mean anything: when Wuhrer shows the first and last signs of justifying her existence in the film by getting too close to him, the bound villain traps her head between his legs and--he has not been studying anacondas for nothing! -- thighs her to death. At this point, the killer snake lunges out of a tree in a giant coiled spring action that closely resembles the Beany and Cecil jack-in-the-box toy I had as a child, and gobbles down Hyde, who deserves to die for having said things like, "I was up all night picking leeches off my scrotum."

There is much more -- Stoltz wakes up briefly to attack Voight before going back into his coma; an intriguing recipe for anaconda flambe is presented--but you'll be more than ready for the finale, which takes place when Lopez and Ice Cube wander into a deserted shack searching for fuel for their stranded boat. This is obviously the least explicable plot point in the script, since if the movie has established anything, it's that Jon Voight is a natural source of gas.


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