That night, as Leonard’s Rolls pulls into his driveway, the butler’s VO informs us that Leonard quit the CIA because of his wife. She thought being a secret agent meant “jumping into bed with a lot of blond people”, har har, and so Leonard quit in the hopes she would come back to him.
The butler greets Leonard at the door, and we finally learn the butler’s name is “Frayn”. I wonder if his great-great-grandson will be named Arthur, and appear in an even worse movie? Leonard asks if his wife called, and once again, she didn’t. He then sees an enormous stack of luggage in the foyer and immediately realizes his daughter has come to pay a visit. Oh, that crazy Sandra!
Actually, his daughter is named Joan, and she immediately comes running up to give him a hug, and Joan is played by our final Repeat Offender, Victoria Rowell. She’s got on a standard late ‘80s outfit consisting of a white sunhat and a shirt with sleeves too long. And the late ‘80s outfit wouldn’t be complete without the snooty, clenched-jaw, spoiled-brat attitude that Victoria puts on to go with it.
“But Daddy, I can too be the most annoying character ever!”
In conversation, it comes out that Joan is fighting with her mom about her to need to “express [her]self”, and how Mom might not even make it to the opening night of her play. Joan truly believes that the play she’s in will make her a star. Cut to Cosby looking bored, but at least this time, understandably so.
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Leonard knows there’s something else bothering Mom, and guesses that his daughter is going out with her leading man. She corrects him, saying she’s actually dating the director.
She takes him into the next room to meet the director, a black Italian [?] named Giorgio, played by Moses Gunn. He’s Joan’s new boyfriend, you see, and they’re planning to get married, even though he’s old enough to be her grandfather. Hilarity!
And the thing about Moses Gunn was, he always looked like he was about a hundred years old. He probably looked a hundred years old when he was 20. Which only adds to the unfunny creepiness of this scene. Gunn guest starred on The Cosby Show a few times, which is probably how he got roped into this humiliating role in the first place.
Leonard sees Giorgio and his smile fades. Giorgio spouts some Italian and offers his hands to Leonard. Cue this movie’s first (though certainly not last) Cosby Eye Roll™. Leonard quickly figures out this is the real reason his daughter is fighting with her mother, and says there’s no way he’s letting them stay at his house.
Giorgio says he wouldn’t think of imposing, and only wanted to meet the father of the girl who stole his heart. He refers to Joan as “Rezazi Benzur Shaheed Parker”, and Joan reveals that this is her “stage name”. Cue Cosby Eye Roll #2.
The Zombie Cosby craves human flesh!
Leonard gets his daughter out of the room by asking her to make him a sandwich. Once she’s gone, he finds out Giorgio is 66, and he says he doesn’t want a “66 year old son-in-law” for his 20 year old daughter. He tells Giorgio that he’s “robbing the cradle”.
Giorgio replies, “Some say Joan is robbin’ the grave!” And he adds a nice little charming hacking cough to the end of that line. Quite a lovely sentiment, that. Cosby Show fans who saw this movie must have really felt their hearts being warmed.
Joan returns with Leonard’s sandwich, and for no particular reason she slides into the room Risky Business-style. She hands the sandwich to Leonard, and he gives us Cosby Eye Roll #3 when he sees it’s a massive hero sub that’s the same size as his head.
Joan also brought him a soda. Can you guess which brand? Keep in mind, this is Bill Cosby we’re talking about, so if you have to think that hard about it, you might just be on this website for the sole purpose of looking at the pretty pictures.
Obviously, it’s a bottle of Coke, made by the then-corporate parent of Columbia Pictures. Accordingly, this bottle of Coke will soon be more prominent and obnoxiously-placed than the various Coke products in your typical American Idol episode.
Giorgio babbles some more to Joan in Italian, until Leonard finally tells him to leave, with the hilarious joke being that Leonard refers to Giorgio as “Sergio”. But the really astounding part is how Leonard is gesturing very obviously at Giorgio with the bottle of Coke. And would you believe the product placement is about to get even more blatant?
Giorgio bids a “ciao, Leonardo” and exits. Joan tries to follow Giorgio out, but is halted by a patented Cosby-fied “Yewww stay heee-yer. Yewwwwstay... Siddown!” I would like to talk to yewwwwww... about some of the things that you do in your show!
Leonard sits Joan down on the couch, and this shot is clearly framed so that the bottle of Coke is planted right in the middle of the screen, as plain as day, as obvious as a blinking neon sign, and it will stay there throughout their entire conversation.
Cosby even kindly makes sure to hold the bottle by the bottom so we can read the logo. Just in case, you know, some people in the audience are slow readers and it takes them a few minutes to make out C-O-K-E.
Career-ending roles go better with Coke!
Leonard scolds Joan for going out with someone so old, and then scolds her some more for wanting to be an actress. His dialogue reveals that every month, she wants to do something different with her life. Joan says she doesn’t want to go into the restaurant business like Dad. She repeats that she needs to express herself, and she wants to “experience life at its most raw!”
Leonard gets all flustered, Cosby-style. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him act this way without Malcolm Jamal-Warner in the room. He says she’ll have a wedding, and then a week later, he’ll have to pay for a funeral. End scene. Yep, that was the big punch line. Buh doom boom! This is a movie that may have benefited from a laugh track. Actually, maybe it wouldn’t have been all that outrageous to flash a title card that said LAUGH HERE.
Although, I don’t understand why Leonard’s so worried about having enough money to pay for the wedding when he’s shilling Coca-Cola every waking moment of his life.
Next, it’s nighttime at the International Tuna building, which circumstantial plot evidence indicates is Gloria Foster’s headquarters. Outside the building, a CIA agent sits in a car and runs surveillance. We know he’s a CIA agent because Frayn’s VO intrudes once again to tell us exactly that. Man, this voiceover is even more blatantly tacked on than in the theatrical cut of Blade Runner.
Inside the tuna factory, several buff black men in gymnastics outfits sit at consoles. That’s supposed to be funny, apparently. I guess the idea is that most male supervillains have a bevy of hot women working for them, so Gloria Foster’s henchmen are all muscular dudes in tights. No really, that’s the joke, so stop giving me that look.
“Excellent numbers, Johnson. We’re on track to becoming the gayest goon squad this year!”
The factory is a stock “bad guy’s lair”, complete with machinery full of lights that blink on and off randomly, as well as lots of foggy corridors and steam jets. Where would evil masterminds be without steam jets? One of the gymnastics guys is examining a big wall map of California, when suddenly light bulbs start flashing and an alarm sounds. One gymnastics goon gets on a microphone to report to “Medusa” that there’s a “government agent on Pier 1!”
As his voice is broadcast around the building, a door slides open, and Gloria Foster as Medusa steps through, accompanied by the Man With No Eyebrows. Medusa, in a stretchy, sparkly dress, says in her very throaty way, “Who has the nerve to call?” Well, it ain’t Neo, that’s for sure.
Ladies and gentleman, Miss Patti Labelle!
They step across the standard-issue catwalk that comes with every villain lair kit, while a guy in a motorized wheelchair follows behind. Wheelchair Dude cries, “Kill him!” Medusa identifies Wheelchair Guy as her “beloved Andy” and says that’s just what she’ll do.
And would you believe the guy playing Andy actually once acted in scenes opposite Arch Hall, Jr.? No kidding. He was the strapping ranch owner Gavin in Nasty Rabbit, which I intend to recap one of these days. But at this time, I’m unable to say which is the more painful comedy.