* * * (1988, 99 minutes, Rated R)
Less than the sum of its parts.
Go to enough weddings, and you’ll hear the familiar refrain of how, in the instance of the
newlyweds, one plus one equals more than two. The idea, of course, is that these individuals
become something more as a couple. And it’s a nice idea, isn’t it?
I’m starting to think that Andy Sidaris films work in reverse.
Sidaris’s films famously promise “bullets, bombs and babes,” and Picasso Trigger certainly
provides those in spades. But instead of one (bullets) plus one (bombs) plus one (babes)
equaling something more than three, it comes out to something less.
You see, lost in the sea of bullets, bombs and babes is coherent storytelling. Here’s what I’ve
pieced together: The Big Bad, an international drug lord named Ortiz, is seeking revenge for the
incarceration of his brother. He starts by having a former assassin named Picasso Trigger killed
off, followed by a number of “agents” from whatever
fantastical undercover agency Sidaris has centered
his world around. The agents figure out what’s
happening, and devise a counter-attack.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Except that’s
the first 50 minutes of the film, and it wasn’t until
that point where I was able to piece most of that
together. Up ‘til then, the film happily jumps all over
the globe, throwing characters at us with no
introduction or context. Hey look! We’re driving past
the Eiffel Tower! Now there’s a guy in Dallas calling
some soap star in a banana hammock in Hawaii!
And there’s the World’s Worst Vegas Revue! And a
lady on a boat taking a shower! Those two guys in
Vegas are following those other two guys… and
shooting at them with a bazooka! Okay, then!
|Though featured in a painting early on,
it turns out that a Picasso Trigger
really is the name of a fish.
You gotta hand it to Sedaris -- he always goes big. No one is ever simply shot with a silencer at
close range, or hit by a sniper. No, he has his killers follow a car in a helicopter and shoot the car
with a bazooka. And bombs are never planted -- that’s baby stuff! Instead, bombs are delivered via
remote controlled model planes or race cars.
|Like this, but stuffed with
Once the agents figure out something is up, they start to
mobilize, which means rolling out a ton of stock footage of
airplanes taking off and landing. Among those agents are
many of the main characters from Hard Ticket to Hawaii:
Donna (Dona Spier, Ms. March ‘84), Taryn (Hope Marie
Carlton, Ms. July ‘85) and the Long-Haired Karate Dude.
Heading up the mission is Travis Abilene (Steve Bond from
“General Hospital“), who everyone razzes because he’s a
terrible shot. Abilene has just discovered that one of the
agents that had long been undercover with Picasso Trigger,
the awesomely named “Agent Pantera,” is some girls he had
a “thing” with in school.
Even better? We find out that Abilene and Pantera broke up
because Pantera doesn’t understand sarcasm.
And suddenly, halfway through the film, it is
I don't know what happened. Maybe I missed a title card announcing "Wednesday" at the start of the
film? I just know that suddenly, everything stopped to announce that it is now
THURSDAY is for debriefing and debriefing. Abilene lays out the situation and the game plan for his
fellow short-shorts wearin’ agents. Donna, clearly jealous of Pantera, proves to Abilene that she
“doesn’t have a jealous bone in her body” by stripping completely naked. Donna may not have a
jealous bone in her body, but she has an extra one in her in the next shot. Hi-Yoo!
FRIDAY is a travel day, which means we’re subjected to some “mile high club” banter that’s too
lame to repeat here. Also, Taryn makes a pit stop to “putter around” with a golfer in a hot tub.
Predictably, this has absolutely no bearing on the story.
SATURDAY is for gratuitous bathing and showering.
SUNDAY? SUNDAY is when it all goes down. And by “goes down,” I mean a wide-sweeping hit job,
like the climax to The Godfather as imagined by a 13-year-old boy.
Turns out our protagonists work for one of those beaurocracy-free agencies where agents are
allowed to kill at will and then waltz right out of the crime scene. From Vegas to Honolulu, agents
hold up a badge, yell “Freeze!” and promptly start shooting everyone in sight. Everything blows up
real good, too -- be it by Taryn’s C-4 boomerang or Donna’s explosive speargun tips. Kills are
usually followed by a righteous fist pump.
|"This is for the Molokai cops!"
And don’t even get me started on the Long-
Haired Karate Dude. He goes walking into an
office “incognito,” meaning he’s dressed like
the kind of telephone repairman you might find
in an adult film. Naturally, the office has two
giant bodyguards in karate gees, holding uzis.
Long-Haired Karate Dude karates the crap out
of them, and then throws the boss out the high-
rise window. I guess there will be no bringing
him in for questioning this time around.
We’re treated to a couple of obvious twists in
the last 15 minutes, along with some absurd
glass shielding that drops from the ceiling
and security cameras armed with rockets. But that’s just it -- “security cameras armed with
rockets” is an idea that’s both cool and hokey, but 99 minutes of cool, hokey ideas doesn’t add up
to coherent movie.
The film ends with our protagonists sitting around, talking and laughing like it’s the end of an
episode of “Charlie’s Angels.” Come to think of it, I’m sure that’s how Andy Sidaris pitched his film
series: Like “Charlie’s Angels,” but with nudity. Certainly, Picasso Trigger is no better or worse than
a 90something minute long episode of “Charlie’s Angels.”