Saturday, December 6, 2008

#115: Jake Speed


Jake Speed
Directed by Andrew Lane
Written by Andrew Lane and Wayne Crawford
Released May 30, 1986

This evening's choice was based on another recommendation, but not really a ringing endorsement so much as one of those, "This movie is so bad you're going to love it" movies.

If you know me at all, you know I love a good bad movie. Don't get me wrong: despite the fact that I write a blog about movies and truly appreciate cinema as a form of art, I am no snob. As I was growing up, my existence was basically Mystery Science Theater 3000. My older brother and I turned making fun of movies into a pastime, so much so that when we went to church with my family, my mother would have to separate us because we would crack up through the entire service. I couldn't even tell you how many times I've seen crap like Gotcha! or The North Shore. This tradition has continued on with some of my closest friends (I remember seeing The Firm with my friends Brian and Matt, and that night of yelling at the screen could possibly go down as one of the funniest nights since man learned to speak).

I could tell only 5 minutes into Jake Speed that I was missing out by not watching this movie with my brother or those friends. The movie starts with some young people being abducted during a trip to Europe, one of them being chased in one of those ridiculous movie chases where people run for miles from a criminal, never once going into a store, using a phone or even turning to any other person on the street and saying, "Hey, can you help me here?"

Then, we cut to a family dinner, where the family of the kidnapped girl are speaking with "government nitwits" about how to get her back. Enter crazy ol' grandpa, who suggests contacting fictional characters, including the titular pulp novel star, "Jake Speed." Turns out that crazy ol' grandpa isn't so crazy, because an associate of Mr. Speed, played by Dennis Christopher from one of my all time favorites, Breaking Away, has convinced the man to take on their case.

Mr. Speed's entrance is pretty much incredible. He rolls in looking like a drunken 1980s college professor and doesn't utter a meaningful line of dialogue for a few minutes. When he does, it's a howler: "Sometimes you gotta do things the hard way." "Why?" "It reads better."

My co-worker was right: this movie IS so bad it's good. It features all the great hallmarks of stupid movies that are worth watching, namely bad dialogue, good actors making bizarre choices (John Hurt is the main bad guy!), and absolutely retarded characters making idiotic choices (the female lead decides to hire Jake to rescue her sister based on the fact that she sees the word "speed" on a few signs as she stands on a street corner). Sometimes you can watch three or four actors on the screen an it looks like each one of them things they are in a different movie.

I lost count of how many times I said, "What the fuck?" watching this thing. The scene in the African bar when a dude danced to a bizarre 80s-meets-tribal African version of "Maniac" from Flashdance... the scene where Speed hits the brakes on his jeep and says, for no reason, "Damn. We're runnin' out of time" and then drives right into the front of a barbershop... lines like "Hey sweet meat, how are they hangin', hey baby!"

The best exchange comes as the female protagonist is calling Speed out as a fraud:

Margaret Winston: If you're such a big deal, why haven't they ever made a movie?
Jake Speed: Ever try to deal with those people?

Bad music, stupid characters, hilarious dialogue and absurdly random explosions. Jake Speed, you glorious turd.

For more on Jake Speed:
- Movie information at IMDB and Wikipedia.
- Buy the DVD? I'd say this one is more of a rental.

A dissection of the movie from The VHS Show:

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