Skidoo (1968), the lost recap (part 13 of 14): A big beautiful blob of nothing
Previously on Skidoo: The endless (and endlessly unfunny) Stanford prison electric Kool-Aid acid test experiment continued, roping in unfortunate cameos from the likes of Slim Pickens, Harry Nilsson, and the (naked) Green Bay Packers. But all of that paled in comparison to the horror known simply as the “Garbage Can Ballet”.
Down in the prison yard, Tony and Company assemble all the goods they’ve been stealing: the rope, the empty sacks, the oxygen tank, the propane tank, etc. And then we see God is still on the phone with the stoned switchboard operators. They finally connect his call, and by pure happenstance, that call goes directly to the cell of Mickey Rooney, AKA Packard. And not a moment too soon! But many, many moments too late.
Packard is in his comfy-looking bed as he puts down his copy of the Wall Street Journal and answers the phone. God, not realizing he’s talking to Packard, says he’s “inquiring about the health of one of the inmates”, namely Packard. Packard realizes it’s God and angrily says, “I’ve never felt better in my life!”
They snipe at each other a bit, before the conversation ends with Packard yelling, “lousy crumb!” and God yelling “dirty stool pigeon!” You see, Packard is turning state’s witness against God, so God really, really doesn’t like him. I hope all that was clear. Unfortunately, the switchboard operators are still tripping balls and falling all over themselves, and so the call gets cut off. Packard simply whistles, puts his big Larry King-size glasses back on, and returns to reading the Journal. And that is the last we ever see or hear of Packard. He never had one in-person scene with Tony, or with anyone else for that matter. So I’d say this part totally justified getting Mickey Rooney to come all the way down to the set to deliver ten lines into a telephone.
Back outside on the prison watchtower, it’s now morning. Older Guard wakes up and once again turns to Younger Guard/Nilsson and asks him, “You see what I see?”
Down below, Tony and Company are inflating the assembled cabbage sacks with hot air, and attached underneath are the garbage cans, and it all comes together to form a makeshift hot air balloon. Yep, a hot air balloon is what they’ve been working on all this time. In his essays and movie reviews, Roger Ebert would often espouse the notion that there are no good movies featuring hot air balloons, and while there are obvious exceptions like The Wizard of Oz and (if you want to be charitable) Superman II, I’m inclined to think he’s right for the most part. Also, I’d like to think he was watching Skidoo at the time he formulated this theory.
Anyway, to the repeated “do you see what I see” query, Nilsson says, “Scrambled eggs!” Older Guard replies, “No! Jell-O! Reminds me of my wife.” I have no idea what that means. Okay, I guess if I thought about it long enough, I might get some idea of what it means, but I really don’t want to. And please don’t comment or write in to explain it to me.
The Prof and Tony climb into the balloon. We learn that Leech can’t come along because, according to Tony, “You’re too heavy!” Hey, get it? Jackie Gleason is calling someone “too heavy”. It’s funny! Though I’m guessing that maybe the serial raping might have a thing or two to do with him being the only one left behind.
The improvised hot air balloon takes off, and we hear yet another foppish Nilsson song. This one includes the brilliant lyrics, “Man wasn’t meant to, to fly! He wasn’t meant to go up, in the sky! Man wasn’t meant for, such things! If God wanted man to fly, we’d have wings!” Like, deep, man.
Older Guard spots the balloon and calls it “a big beautiful blob of nothing!” Hey, now. That’s no way to talk about Jackie Gleason. He watches the balloon rise, saying that it “wants” him and “loves” him. “But why is it going away?”
Tony waves goodbye to the guards, and the guards wave back, and poor pathetic Leech waves goodbye as well. The balloon rises up over Alcatraz, I mean, “Rock Island Federal Pen” to what initially sounds like the “Hallelujah, hallelujah” refrain from Handel’s Messiah, but is actually a Messiah knock-off, even though Messiah is in the public domain and there was no reason not to use the real thing. Tony and the Prof float past the San Francisco skyline, and Tony gets nervous because of a close call with (I think) the Bay Bridge.
The Prof tells him to relax because “It’s just another trip”, so Tony says, “To a nut like you it’s another trip!” He whines and whines, so finally the Prof tries to get the balloon flying closer to the ground. There’s a POV shot of buildings rushing up towards them as the balloon supposedly sinks like a stone. Tony freaks and shouts, “not that close!” and the Prof sends them up again.
Back on the yacht, God turns on his videophone to see Angie combing his hair. God interrupts, informing him that “Tony let us down” by not killing Packard. In response, Angie reaches down and pulls out his pistol.
Angie then goes into Darlene’s cabin. He flings open her bathroom door to find her naked in the shower, which for me is pretty much the best part of the movie. Of course, she’s behind a shower curtain and you can’t really see anything, but I’ll take my gratuitous nudity where I can get it. He shuts the door behind him, and God, watching on his videophone, hears gunshots. But given that we don’t actually see Darlene get shot, you can probably guess this movie doesn’t end with her brutal murder. Regardless, God immediately shuts off the videophone and prepares to make his getaway.
Cut to George Raft, still playing the yacht’s captain. He’s looking through binoculars, and seeing several sailboats heading right for them. Oh look, it’s Flo and all the hippies, come to rescue Darlene. George Raft sounds an alarm, and reports to God that some “friendly natives” are headed their way. God tells him to get rid of them, so Raft grabs a bullhorn and yells “Ahoy!” at them repeatedly. Yeah, that ought to do it.
God shouts back over the loudspeaker, “Never mind ‘ahoy’! Tell them to beat it! Or else!” But I guess we’re skipping immediately to the “or else” part, because the next thing we see are men with rifles, taking aim at the hippies. Cut to the boat leading the charge, and Carol Channing is standing on the bow, dressed like Napoleon. Not that this movie made any sense in the first place, but roughly here is where that last tiny speck of reality disappears for good. Unless you think it’s feasible that Flo dropped by a costume shop on the way to rescue her daughter. But then again, I guess it’s entirely possible she keeps a Napoleon costume on hand for sexytimes with Tony. Ugh. Let’s forget I even mentioned that.
God, not one to miss the opportunity to take out Carol Channing with high powered sniper rifles, yells, “Aim! Fire!” Suddenly, the henchmen see Tony and Prof’s hot air balloon hovering over their heads. This totally blows everybody’s minds, and the men have no idea what to shoot at now.
God yells, “Kill the balloon!” Even though there’s no way he could know Tony is in it. I guess he really hates hot air balloons, too.
The goons shoot at Tony’s balloon, but miss. There are shots of a cheerful Tony saying, “They missed! They missed!” Um, you do know they can reload and shoot again, right?
The Prof begins bringing the balloon in for a landing, while God’s men continue to shoot and miss. God watches on his videophone as the balloon gets closer and closer, until finally there’s a flash and the screen goes dead. This prompts him to hide a stack of papers under a sofa cushion. Naturally, we never find out what that’s about. He makes his getaway just as Flo and the hippies board the yacht, and then Flo… starts singing.
Next up: This is it, folks. The last installment of the hell known as Skidoo is finally here. Unfortunately, this movie is about to end with a whimper. As in, the sound of me whimpering as I have to endure a big closing musical number sung by Carol Channing, followed by Harry Nilsson singing the closing credits. Yes, he sings the closing credits. Every last one of them. It’s something that really has to be seen to be believed.