Pink Motel (1982) ****  A Porky’s-era ensemble sex comedy that plays like a lowbrow Neil Simon adaptation, thanks to its ironic, nagging, zinger-laden screenplay by Jim Kouf, Pink Motel takes viewers into various rooms of the titular establishment, run with cranky cynicism by Slim Pickens and wife Phyllis Diller. Among the occupants are two lawyers having an affair; a sleazy, cocksure stud teaching his buddy how to score; a teen trying to charm his girlfriend into losing her virginity; and a football star, another virgin as it turns out, trying to lose his blues with a jaded prostitute.

Diller and Pickens, in whose mouth words like “hog heaven” take on an entirely new and individual sensibility, are the funniest and most engaging players, but do little more in their smallish parts than link the different subplots with jokey interludes.  Squire Fridell and Andrea Howard, the two best actors in Pink Motel, also have the meatiest scenes as Howard, a prosecuting attorney, grills defender Fridell about the meaning and prospects of their stagnant relationship.  Musclebound Tony Longo, meanwhile, is another standout in his pitiable part as the football fullback trying to score where it counts, with lots of sports double entendres naturally following.

Not all of the couplings are equally interesting or funny; but, ensemble film that it is, Pink Motel never stays in one room long enough for any situation, however ridiculous, to become overly tiresome.  Perhaps too talky and static for those seeking the likes of another Porky’sLosin’ It, or Hot Moves, Pink Motel is nonetheless recommended to open-minded viewers willing to forgive a somewhat tame and easygoing piece of late night fare that occasionally feels like it was written for the stage instead of the drive-in screen.  Nile performs the funky, sassy theme song that opens, closes, and invests the proceedings with spirit.  4 out of 5 stars.

Screwball Hotel (1988) ***  Three military cadet ne’er-do-wells do their zaniest to thwart gangsters conspiring to take over a posh Miami hotel in this hopelessly goofy continuation of Rafal Zielinski’s string of 80s sex comedies that includes the original Screwballs, its sequel Loose Screws, Recruits, and Valet Girls.  The plot, expectedly, is really just an excuse for a series of raunchy and outrageous gags, with the horny hotel proprietor and his ditzy secretary amusing themselves with costumed role playing sex games; a disgustingly obese and food-obsessed loser getting more than he bargained for with a voracious “leather queen” in one of the suites; and a bevy of prudish pageant contestants being duped by religious fervor into wrestling in oil to raise money to save the hotel.

Scenes of cocaine mischievously finding its way into hotel guests’ lungs and digestive tracts by way of strategic pranksterism and a kitchen mix-up, respectively, recall Screwballs, with its Spanish fly sequence, as does the eternal sex comedy standby plot device of the necessity of undermining beautiful young women’s moral modesty by any means necessary, the sabotaged “Miss Purity” pageant of Screwball Hotel recalling the Purity Busch storyline of the earlier film.  Most of this material is funnier as tackled in Screwballs and Loose Screws, so those new to Zielinski’s brand of comedy would do better to begin with one of those; fans already familiar with these earlier entries, however, will have a better idea of what to expect and may enjoy Screwball Hotel despite its largely hit-and-miss underachieving lameness.

Even people annoyed by this film are likely to laugh aloud at least once, if only at how ridiculous the whole thing is.  Viewers willing to sit through a painfully inauspicious first five minutes or so will be rewarded by plenty of amiable absurdity.  The caricature rich Arab sheikh and the Australian who has a relationship with his sheep may fall totally flat as comedy coups; but is it really possible not to laugh at the sight of a lobster crawling up a fat guy’s shorts as he squirms and his supervisor berates him, asking him if he has the crabs?  For those who, like this reviewer, can admit to be being amused by the idea of sparks flying out of this same poor slob’s crotch as a nymphomaniac in S&M garb straddles, rides, and whips him, Screwball Hotel is far from the worst dumpster nugget a lenient VHS thrillseeker could pick from the heap.  3 out of 5 stars.

Advertisements