National Lampoon's Gold Diggers Review

Sep 17, 2004 | 12:17pm EDT

In theory Gold Diggers is another remake of the The Ladykillers in which bumbling crooks are constantly thwarted trying to kill an old lady in order to amass a fortune or in this case two old ladies (Louise Lasser and Renee Taylor two excellent actresses who are simply embarrassed here). Except writer/director Gary Preisler thought it would be funnier if the young crooks were also having sex with the old ladies and that the elders would be impossibly flatulent randy and murderous themselves. The result is the worst treatment of the elderly since Momma was Thrown From the Train. Murder is attempted using poison shotgun and snake. And sex with the elderly is attempted using handcuffs food and the world's oldest condom.

Will Friedle (Boy Meets World) and Chris Owen (American Pie) are the two young hoods who grew up in an orphanage and then turned to crime because apparently everyone who grows up in an orphanage turns to crime. Friedle was OK in the excellent and underrated Trojan War (the best of the John Hughes rip-off comedies) but that was seven years ago and he's done nothing but voiceover work since. It's easy to see why; his total lack of charisma or screen presence makes Chris O'Donnell seem like Humphrey Bogart. Lasser manages at least an accidental chemistry with Owen but she seems to be the only one willing to take this movie where it needed to go which is somewhere very strange and way beyond left field. Taylor tries to inject some life into the material but her repeated stripteases only to serve to point out how sad it is that a woman of her age and talent must stoop this low to get work in Hollywood. Nikki Ziering of Playboy fame turns up near the end looking great in a bikini but her awkward attempts at the meager lines she's given make you wish she just didn't say anything at all.

Director Preisler has no concept of the tone or timing needed to make this work. Gold Diggers is a wannabe raunchy comedy but it's a tame PG-13 that doesn't contain the raunch that drives teen male audiences. No one says Porky's or say The Girl Next Door was a great movie but at least they delivered the R-rated goods. And Gold Diggers is a wannabe black comedy that has a gooey and predictably sappy ending in which characters learn life lessons and live happily ever after. This is what happens when someone takes a set of great influences like The Ladykillers Fargo and American Pie and then mangles them horribly. It's like watching the lamest cover band ever perform some your favorite songs screechingly out of tune. It makes you want to grab a tire iron and some chloroform and throw them in the trunk. In fact the only reason to see this movie would be for the score which cribs so generously from the score for Fargo that if you close your eyes and completely ignore the dialogue you can transport yourself to a better version of this movie. The National Lampoon imprint spawned some of the funniest comedy writers in America the same group that gave us Saturday Night Live Animal House and other definitive '70s comedies. Today it's a signal to run like hell for the exits or better yet ignore it completely.

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