Leonard Part 6 (1987) (part 2 of 15)
The movie starts, and before we even get to the credits, when we’re still seeing Lady Columbia holding her torch, we hear an odd, ominous tune that sounds like it belongs in a Halloween kids movie. I mean, it’s even got the “spooky” theramin going and everything. It sounds like we’re about to watch a haunted house movie featuring the likes of Steve Guttenberg, or Christopher Lloyd, or god forbid, both.
Then again, maybe the soundtrack is just warning us of Joe Don Baker’s terrifying, monstrous presence later.
Okay, I really need to talk about these credits. Because frankly, they’re a joke. And not in a “ha-ha funny” sort of way, more like in a way where I’m not sure I can even make fun of them any more than they already make fun of themselves.
They’re done in the style of crappy paper dolls that look like a little kid drew them. They include various animals (rabbits, turtles, frogs, etc.) beside each credit, and the lettering looks like a ten-year-old’s scribblings on a chalkboard. The cartoon animals are animated, but only in the simplest, most rudimentary way. For instance, a frog lets out its tongue to eat the “6” in the title, and a rattlesnake jerks its rattling tail and a credit goes flying off the screen. This animation, I would say, is only slightly more complex than panning the camera across still drawings.
However, lest you think this movie is even more insane than it already is, the whole “animal” theme actually relates to the story, what there is of it. But to me at least, it would seem that if your movie is this bad, about the last thing you’d want is stupid, crappy, cheap-looking opening credits that only invite more criticism. But amazingly, that’s what they went for here. Hmm. Maybe they didn’t realize just how awful this movie is.
Nah. Couldn’t be.
A cartoon fish charmingly burps up air bubbles, complete with a stock belching sound effect. This sends Joe Don Baker’s credit flying off screen. So… Joe Don Baker’s name appears and we hear a belch at the same time? There’s no way that’s a coincidence.
By the way, Joe Don will evidently be playing a character named “Snyderburn”. Please don’t ask me why Joe Don has the only credit that includes a character name. I guess he had a lot of clout in those post-Joy Sticks days. And as mentioned above, Joe Don is the first Repeat Offender we’ll be seeing in this movie, having already been the world’s most repulsive leading man ever in Mitchell.
Then there’s an elephant snorting at a credit for the music, which is by the late Elmer Bernstein, who passed away in August of this year. Man, is that depressing. Something tells me this particular movie wasn’t mentioned in very many of his obituaries.
Then there’s more incredibly lame animation, including a kangaroo, and a cat that looks like it has some kind of disease. There’s also a turtle with a sinister laugh. Goddamn turtles. I always knew they were evil.
Next to a poorly animated rhinoceros is a credit for the director of photography, Jan de Bont. In the years following this movie, de Bont became a director in his own right, directing actual quality movies like Speed, and… um… did I already mention Speed?
Anyhow, after an alligator and a puppy stiffly jerk around the screen, the movie itself begins.
Well, it seems the filmmakers pretty much threw up their hands right from the very start and said “you figure it out” with a completely bewildering opening. A camouflage sports car with a tank-like turret flies over a hill on a San Francisco street. As the car soars through the air in slow motion, there’s an insert shot of Bill Cosby in the driver’s seat.
Cosby, I should note, is looking very bored. Get used to this. In fact, most of this movie could be summarized as “Cut to Bill Cosby, looking bored.” I’d say he was phoning it in, but that’s something of an overstatement. It’s more like he’s smoke-signaling it in.
Before we have a chance to assimilate this random, nonsensical, in media res opening, the movie cuts to someone doing ballet in a dark warehouse somewhere. It turns out to be Bill Cosby again, this time in point shoes, a bicycle helmet, and a stock “foreign army” jumpsuit, like maybe he had a cameo in Delta Force to do right after this. Cosby, by which of course I mean his poorly disguised body double, does pirouettes and grande jetés all up in our faces.
And then, before we have a chance to assimilate that, there’s a shot of Bill Cosby riding across a rooftop. And, umm… he’s riding an ostrich. I assure you, I did not ingest any hallucinogens prior to writing this recap. But truth be told, that wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.
On the rooftop’s edge, there’s a big neon sign saying “INTERNATIONAL TUNA”. The ostrich, with Cosby still on its back, runs through the “O” in “International”. In the next shot, Cosby and the ostrich briefly turn into cheap Claymation figures as an explosion flares behind them. The ostrich uses its feeble wings to carry Cosby down to the ground, briefly making me wish I were instead watching the long overdue big-budget adaptation of Joust.
So, there I was, watching Leonard Part 6 for the very first time. I was only a scant minute into the film, and it was already as horrible as everything I had ever heard. I had no clue what was going on, what I was looking at, or why I was looking at it, and it only got worse from there.
But now that I’ve seen this movie a few times, I can explain. What we just witnessed was really a montage of events that will happen to Bill Cosby over the course of the film. You might be asking, why would they awkwardly tack on a pointless montage to the start of the movie? My best guess is that the filmmakers, in their infinite wisdom, figured it would be more interesting to start with “action” scenes than with a butler talking (which we’ll be getting to in a second).
Still, why did they pick these clips? I know they didn’t have many interesting clips to choose from, but these aren’t the least bit exciting. They seem to have been picked totally at random. Especially that shot of Bill Cosby looking bored. Who thought it was a good idea to start things off with a shot of the star looking like he’d rather be cleaning out his cat’s litter box?
And the ostrich clip could even be construed as something of a spoiler, considering it comes from the final two minutes of the movie, during the supposed “climax”. Of course, that’s just pretending for a moment that anybody actually cares about the ending of Leonard Part 6 being ruined. By the time we get there, I’m sure you’ll agree that the beginning and the middle of the movie are also completely ruined, so why not the ending, too?
The montage is complete, and the movie cuts to a standard English butler type wiping glassware with a towel. The butler looks into the camera and promises that there’s a “logical explanation” for all the things we just saw. In other words, the first line out of this character’s mouth is a complete lie. And considering he’ll be babbling in voiceover throughout the whole damn movie, this isn’t a good way to start things off with me.
He tells us that the star of our show, a man named Leonard Parker, experienced all three of these incredible things within the span of one week in San Francisco. And if you think that’s amazing, he didn’t even set foot in the Castro.
The butler says he is in fact Leonard’s butler. Get outta town! He also reveals that Leonard’s “five previous adventures, I’m sure would have enthralled you, had they not been confiscated in the interests of world security.” And therein lies the sole reason this movie has “Part 6” in the title.
You see, supposedly the previous five movies actually exist, but were never seen because they’ve been classified as top secret. And these other five movies will never be mentioned again for the rest of the film. The dumb title was worth it for that hilarious joke, was it not?
Still, it does leave the door open for a Leonard Part 1, assuming studios inevitably run out of properties from the ‘80s to reboot.