Sunday, June 01, 2014

White Elephant Blogathon: 'Underground Aces' (1981)

For past editions of the White Elephant Blogathon (in which participants write about a randomly selected movie chosen by another participant), I've covered the innocuous Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts, the bizarre Scorpion Thunderbolt and the tedious The Beast of Yucca Flats. This year I was assigned Underground Aces, which is probably the most entertaining movie I've gotten to write about for this project, even though it is, like all the other White Elephant movies I've written about, completely terrible.

In the vein of Caddyshack or Car Wash, Underground Aces features of a group of fun-loving misfits working menial jobs for an uptight boss, but mostly spending their time goofing off and hooking up. In this case, they're parking attendants at a Los Angeles hotel, which offers plenty of opportunities for "comical" vehicular carnage. These people destroy more cars than a demolition derby, and should certainly all have been fired and/or arrested long ago. They don't even face much opposition from the hotel's useless authority figures, a deadpan manager played by Jerry Orbach and an apoplectic head of security played by Frank Gorshin.

Orbach and Gorshin are just two of the familiar faces in the cast, which also includes Melanie Griffith, Dirk Benedict (of Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team fame), future Police Academy star Michael Winslow (playing a character who speaks exclusively in sound effects), Robert Hegyes (aka Epstein from Welcome Back, Kotter), and B-movie staple Sid Haig. Despite the surprising star power, Underground Aces is a strictly second-rate affair, a haphazard collection of lame jokes and one-dimensional characters, with barely any plot to speak of. The most prominent storyline involves some sort of Arab sheik posing as a parking attendant in order to seduce a bride-to-be whose wedding is being held at the hotel, and it manages to be both sexist and racist, in addition to completely nonsensical.

The actors breeze through their roles with minimal effort, and the comedy is similarly half-assed. This is the kind of movie that features two different fast-motion montages set to "wacky" fiddle music. Aside from a predictable gag involving a woman getting her clothes ripped off after they're caught in a car door, there isn't even any nudity to distract from the lazy writing and bored performances. The movie peaks during the opening credits, with the funky theme song by the Commodores playing over images of the wide variety of parking structures in Los Angeles. Neither that liveliness nor that authenticity shows up again for the rest of the running time. (The whole movie can be seen on YouTube, if you're curious.)

Kevin Cecil wrote a very thoughtful piece on my pick, The Minstrel Killer, aka Blackface Killer.

1 comment:

Darian Dennison said...

I have seen Underground Aces and thought it was a pretty enjoyable film that is easy to watch, I also thought there were some funny moments in the film but I agree most of the actors don't put much effort in their performances, I wish Frank Gorshin and Jerry Orbach's characters were used in the movie more often.