by Dane Youssef
More dated than a Vanilla Ice album, "Ford Fairlane" was clearly a vehicle for Dice.
Unfortunately, this big loud, rock 'n' roll, sex-starved Ford crashed and burned. Figures. It was made in America.
During that fabulous, fucked-up era known as the '80's, the Diceman was on top of the world. Known for his persona as an Elvis impersonator with tackiness and bad vibes to spare, his over-exaggerated mock "Itallian" accent, his trademark leather jacket jeweled all-over with rhinestones and studs, chain-smoking and spreading misogyny and prejudice. (sniff, weep, sob. I really miss the '80's).
The whole movie looks like a film that clearly embodies the whole spirit and soul of the '80's.
The tropical mellow melody from "Yello" is great and so is Vince Neil and Sheila E. (although they should have had more time with their numbers), and Tone Loc plays himself as "undiscovered." Getting out only one measly verse.
20th Century Fox distributed this one, and it was the first in what was supposed to be a string of vehicles for the Diceman. But after this one went belly-up, 20th Century Fox shredded Clay's contract into confetti. Like many entertainers who had created a character persona, The Diceman was a soup de' jour that fell of the menu.
Now the Diceman's very presence in a movie or TV show is a red flag. A dire warning that this will go down in flames and crash-land into the ocean. Which is why the Diceman wisely chooses to limit his presence to stand-up gigs.
Can the lovable everyman Andrew Silverman (yes, I am being sarcastic) play anyone besides "The Diceman"? Doesn't look like it. Still, that is essentially what this movie was meant to be him doing his Diceman shtick in a movie lead with a different name.
Some fan on eCritic once described Clay's Diceman character as "Elvis Presley given a fatal over-dose of testosterone." He hit the nail right on the head so dead-on, it was breath-taking. Yes, THAT is the Diceman.
The humor never rises above the belt-line (natch), but the real problem is that the junior-high school humor isn't very inventive.
But no, that's not what Dice is about, is it? Still, one of the screenwriters is the award-winning Daniel Waters, who wrote the '80's teenage-angst high school masterpiece "Heathers." So you expect some amount of wicked lines and skewering satire. And for the most part we get that. There are great things in this movie (a few), some good things... and too much other stuff.
Renny Harlin really gives the movie a hip, smooth, glossy neon look, as well as first rate comic-action sequences. Not to mention a cast as priceless as the original works of Picasso. Some (actually, many) said the movie's one real problem was the casting of Dice. Well, I can kinda see what they're saying. Hey, it's a Dice movie. Deal with it. Well, you can't please everybody.
The movie is chock-full of big name celebrity walk-ons. There are so many names dropped here, you want them to pick some of them up. Gilbert Gottfried is sleazier than he's ever been as a obnoxious, grosser-than-the-grossest-gross-out DJ who's Fairlane's childhood buddy and now #1 in the ratings. Gottifried makes us laugh in that way that only he can and thankfully his role lasts just long enough so that he doesn't get on our nerves.
Brandon Call (who's been acting since the cradle) is endearing as a little kid who idolizes Ford and follows him around faithfully like a stray puppy. This film is a take-off of detective pictures, including "Dick Tracy." So just like "Dick Tracy," Ford gets involved with this young little ragamuffin who wants to be just like him and is also name "The Kid."
Naturally. And Priscilla Presley is golden as the femme fa-tale who doesn't even bat an eye at Ford's juvenile behavior. Robert Englund steals scenes from Clay as a merciless hit-man who's scarier, funnier and more energetic than Freddy Krueger ever was.
But while there is a lot of hip music video rock imagery and big name musicians walking through like this whole movie is a big MTV music awards after-party, not too many of them do the music that they're so known for doing.
Wayne Newton seems appropriate as a blow-hard record exec who seems too full of helium, Priscilla Presley as the necessary whodunit femme fa-tale, David Patrick Kelly as a perverted fan.
But the sweetness of the movie comes from Lauren Holly as Ford's girl Friday Jazz (who's the only one with a uterus who calls him on what a s--t-crock he is). "I'd always love Jazz... 'cause she despised me for who I truly am," Fairlane tells us. And Call's "Kid" idolizes and emulates Fairlane the way most boys do superheroes. He is the innocence of the film.
Clay has the looks, stature and self-confidence to play a leading man, but not the charisma. But then again, most of us have just seen his "Diceman" shtick. But can he do any other shtick? Although this movie seems to lean towards 'no,' one has to remember than he was just expanding on his 'Diceman' shtick, because, around that time, it was still hot.
This guy had a hot career all throughout the '80's... and just as his career was really blowing up... it blew up. Still, I love this movie.
Ever since women took over in the late '90's, they censored and repressed us with a de-humanization form they like to call "political correctness." So that's really why I love this movie (and not just me, really), but a lot of other guys, too.
It was made during a time when it was still OK to be a man.
--Having Driven A Ford Vehicle, Dane Youssef