A network of interconnecting skits modelled on the modern sprawl of American television. Thus we get spoof news programmes, spy films, mob films, kung fu epics, commercials, porn movies and a whole load of blaxploitation.
A rushed, puerile scattershot of sketches satirising American TV habits, that also manages that irritating trick of being occasionally funny too (in a scattershot and puerile way). Hence, The Kentucky Fried Movie, with its wobbly bosoms and un-PC hectoring, tends to feature heavily in pubescent boys rites-of-passage movies. Although John Landis directed it, the talents that emerged from its goonish, never-that-biting examination of American consumer foibles, are the writers, the two Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams, collectively ZAZ who went on to make one of the funniest films of all time in Airplane!. They were still warming up here.
Their idea was to take the sketch comedy format, so successfully housed on television, and apply it to the movies, with the added postmodern gesture of making it about television. It’s a splurge of mock-ups from dippy kung-fu movie parodies (A Fistful Of Yen is the centre piece running to a whole half hour) to the exceedingly low-slung sexploitation of Catholic Schoolgirls In Trouble that manages the crafty trick of being both a spoof and a cheeky bit of soft-porn.
The jokes hit as much as they miss, although ZAZ never have the energy or skill to truly fix on their target, it’s really just about schoolboy tittering. As mock oil company Argon declares in their public service segment, “We’re extracting 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil each day from teenagers’ faces.” They knew their target audience zits and all.
Smart and satirical but very dated, obviously.