Friday, 11 January 2019



One of the reasons I've never been a fan of boycotting movies because star X is, might be, or has subsequently been revealed as, a colossal pervert, sexual predator and/or all-round piece of human garbage is that you're also boycotting the work of a whole load of other people who aren't. It's all very well to ignore the films of Woody Allen or Roman Polanski on the grounds of accusations, rumours or even established fact, but it means you "punish" their entirely blameless casts and crews who have nothing to do with star X's alleged or historical actions. In this instance star X is Bill Cosby, one of the most powerful and most popular TV stars of his day, trying and failing (and boy, is he failing) to move up to the big screen.

Leonard Part 6 most likely bombed not because of its star's depravities (they weren't public knowledge in 1987) but because it's an incoherent, idiotic mess: a dumb spy comedy, a dumb romantic drama, a dumb series of dumb sitcom ideas, randomly thrown together whether they belong or not, whether they work or not. Cosby is Leonard, a retired superspy called back into the field when agents are apparently being bumped off by animals under the control of a mad vegetarian looking to flood the San Francisco Bay Area with chemicals that will turn all the wildlife into killers. Initially he doesn't want to get involved: he's staggeringly rich, he owns a snooty restaurant, and he can't get over his wife leaving him. But he gets pulled back anyway, aided by his loyal butler (Tom Courtenay) and a strange Czech woman who lives in a bus and doesn't speak English (because comedy)....

In the middle of all this is a sitcom subplot in which Leonard's nubile young daughter wants to marry the 66-year-old director of a rubbish play in which she takes her clothes off, while Leonard wants to get back with his beloved but unforgiving wife. Like Schwarzenegger's True Lies, the more interesting spy stuff stops dead for the personal drama. The difference is that when it gets back to the exciting stuff, True Lies more than delivers the action. The final reels of Leonard Part 6 (the first five Leonard films were suppressed in the name of national security, hahaha) include most of the cast being drenched in coloured gloop and Cosby defeating the villain's henchmen by throwing hamburgers at them (and force-feeding one a raw sausage) before riding an ostrich off the roof.

Leonard Part 6 does have a score by the legendary Elmer Bernstein, and it's pretty much the worst film he was ever involved with (okay, 50s sci-fi turkey Robot Monster is arguably worse, but he was blacklisted at the time). It's absolute rubbish, obviously, and it never hangs together for a moment. It feels like an idea that might have served for one of those old Matt Helm or Our Man Flint movies (or any Eurospy nonsense conceived at the height of the Bond rip-off frenzy) but it doesn't have a fraction of the glamour or the excitement or the wit or the grace or the style. Instead it just throws one random Mad Libs idea on the screen after another - wouldn't it be hilarious to have Bill Cosby fight avant-garde dancers with the power of ballet shoes? Wouldn't it be hilarious to have his wife pour soup in his hair? Wouldn't it be hilarious to have an army of frogs throw someone's car into the river? - as if the idea is enough, and it's certainly not the screenwriter's job to develop these ideas in any way or to link them together in some kind of coherent narrative. The result is a clumpingly stupid vanity film that doesn't make any sense at all, isn't funny in the slightest, wastes time and talent wandering aimlessly from one comedy cul-de-sac to another, going nowhere interesting in the process. Utterly terrible, even for ghoulish fans of repulsive perverts.


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