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4.12.08

National Lampoon's Movie Madness (1982)


(aka National Lampoon Goes to the Movies)


Director: Henry Jaglom, Bob Giraldi
Starring: Peter Riegert, Robby Benson, Joe Spinnell, and a whole lot of regret filled celebrities
Released by MGM





"National Lampoon's Movie Madness" is the smoking gun in the case against the notion that the name "National Lampoon" is any sort of guarantee of quality. Despite a few possible exceptions, notably the first couple of "Vacation" movies, anything bearing the name should be treated with the same caution one would exercise if they were handling hazardous waste. Having suffered through a good number of these films, I feel confident in proclaiming that "Movie Madness" is very likely the worst film branded with the now-defunct magazine's name, and is a strong candidate for one of the most boring movies ever made.

The film, which is alleged to be a comedy, consists of three segments: the first is a spoof of relationship dramas starring the perennially unappealing Peter Riegert; the second a soap opera-inspired tale of a woman seeking revenge against the men who raped her with margarine (don't ask); the final story stars Robby Benson as an idealistic rookie cop, who becomes jaded after he is shot hundreds and hundreds of times. Not only is each story comprised of a single lame joke that is beaten to death almost immediately-- the direction, the acting, and the writing is about as flat and uninspired as you can possibly get. It is truly mind-boggling to think that anybody, anywhere, at anytime could possibly have found anything in this film to be even remotely entertaining, let alone funny. It is more of an endurance test than a film; at 90 minutes long, it feels more like four hours. Four very painful, very unfunny hours. I should add that the "wraparound' segments, the glue that holds the three stories together, is nothing more than a nausea-inducing Dr. John song, in which the lyrics "going to the movies" are repeated over and over and over again. Yes, it's terrible. I refuse to provide any more plot details. Suffering through this garbage once was enough. Recounting every agonizing detail is simply more than should be asked of any human being.

"Movie Madness" never received a proper theatrical release, and while I don't know the exact reasons for this, I'd like to think that somebody high on the ladder decided that the film was nearly unwatchable and wisely decided to shelve it. Years later,the studio sensed that there might be a penny to be made off of this clunker and the film was sold to cable and home video, where it continues to suck valuable time from unsuspecting viewers lives. I have to believe that studio execs are evil, for if they truly had an ounce of good in their souls this film would have been burned and the ashes launched into space back in 1982. Leaving it in a vault for it to be revived years later was a horrible decision, and one that may haunt cable television viewers for years to come.

I did my part. I suffered through this excruciatingly unfunny, mind-numbing waste of film so that you don't have to. I hope that you will believe me when I say that this film is absolutely dreadful. Avoid at all costs.

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