Sep 19, 2016
Leonard Part 6 (1987) (part 15 of 15)
Seeing the bubbling, churning reaction, Leonard runs around, tossing Alka Seltzer tablets into the vats of blue and green goo as well. The vats bubble and overflow, sending red, blue, and green foam raining down on the levels below. The vats eventually burst, causing three primary-colored tidal waves that engulf Medusa’s goons, subduing all of them. Good thing that’s just dishwashing liquid.
Meanwhile, Medusa herself is trying to shut off the valves, but then a flood of green foam rains down on her. And that, as it turns out, will be the last we ever see of her. I must say, getting slimed is a pretty lame way to dispatch your villain. I want to see her burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, not be a losing contestant on Double Dare.
At the same time, Allison rides out of the plant on horseback and is reunited with Joan. So very touching, except not. They wonder where Leonard is, while the whole place begins to blow up.
Leonard is still inside, certain to perish in the coming catastrophe, but he sees one remaining ostrich still in its pen. This means that finally, at long, long last, we’re about to get the last of the clips promised to us in the opening teaser. And believe me, it was so worth the wait!
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Leonard rides the ostrich across the roof, as jets of flame shoot up all around him. The ostrich leaps through the O in the International Tuna sign, and bird and man transform into Claymation ostrich and Claymation Leonard while the entire factory completely self-destructs in a massive explosion. And that’s three pointless teaser scenes down, there you go.
Leonard lands and heads over to his family, and tells Frayn to get rid of the Sphere. Snyderburn and Company drive up at that exact moment, and they’re just in time to see Frayn give the Sphere to Nurse Carvalho. She tosses it in the air, and Frayn uses his own set of underarm rockets to completely obliterate the thing in mid-air.
Snyderburn watches the destruction of the Sphere and angrily tells Leonard, “You’ll never work in this town again!” And to say there’s at least a kernel of real-world truth to that would be an understatement. Leonard doesn’t care, however, because he’s going home with his family.
And they leave just in time to avoid a big flood of red foam flowing over the edge of the roof, which completely deluges Snyderburn and all the others. Ha ha! Those bastards deserve to suffocate!
Fade to black, and when we return, we’re at Leonard’s restaurant. All of his chefs and associates are standing around applauding, as he and Allison walk hand in hand through the path they’ve created. Leonard stops to kiss Giorgio on the cheek, reminding us that we have no idea if that whole stupid subplot ever got resolved.
Frayn’s VO (which I really hoped we had heard the last of) returns to tell us that this was the end of the whole animal attack epidemic, except for one episode where a lumberjack in Oregon was “brutally assaulted by a vicious mole”. And I’m assuming that mole was pretty pissed off because Thumbelina left him at the altar.
We also learn from Frayn’s never-ending VO that Joan quit acting and joined Greenpeace instead. Which makes sense, given it’s the only organization in the world full of more lunatics than the theater.
And then Frayn informs us, in case you haven’t already guessed, that Leonard and Allison reconciled. The two sit at a table and Allison tells Leonard she loves him. Leonard hornily says, “Tonight?” Allison replies, “Tonight!” Yeah, definite TMI there.
Leonard gets a wide-eyed look and cries, “Let’s eat!” The waiter brings over dinner, but Leonard says his wife will serve him dinner tonight. Oh boy, I can’t imagine where this is going.
Allison fills a ladle full of a soup, and looks really confused about whether to put it in the bowl or on Leonard’s suit. Leonard smiles and says, “Do it!” So she laughingly pours the soup on his sleeve. She takes another ladle full and pours it on his other sleeve, as another Peabo Bryson slow jam starts up. Allison then pours the soup over Leonard’s head and down his face. They both lean forward, kiss, aaaaand… freeze frame.
Unfortunately, they can’t just leave things at that. Again, “quit while you’re ahead” was really not this director’s philosophy in life. He apparently felt the need to prolong the torment, because the credits are intermixed with more footage of Leonard getting food dumped on him.
As we listen to “Without You (Love Theme From ‘Leonard Part 6’)”, which I swear is the song’s actual title, Leonard grabs a handful of pasta and dumps it on his own head. Then Allison dumps the whole platter of pasta on his head. Then she smears strawberry shortcake across his face, and Leonard shoves the rest of the cake in his own face, and good god, just let it end already!
They kiss again, we freeze again, and then it’s just pure credits from here on out, thank god.
I’d heard rumors of this movie’s badness for years, and even with my extremely low expectations, it turned out to be every bit as awful as its rep. And then some. A few of the ideas may have sounded funny on paper (“They’re vegetarians, so Leonard attacks them with hamburger patties!”), as long as that piece of paper is a note being passed around a playground between fourth graders.
But when you see it all up there on the screen, there isn’t one single laugh, chuckle, or even a smirk to be had. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more unfunny comedy, and I’ve seen Pootie Tang and that Jerry Springer movie.
When Leonard Part 6 was released, Cosby pinned all of the movie’s problems on first-time director Paul Weiland. He felt Weiland was too young and inexperienced to film this story, because he had no idea what it was like to have an estranged wife or an out of control daughter. To some degree, I can see where Cosby was coming from, but that hardly accounts for everything that went wrong here.
After all, putting the script aside, the movie is shot competently enough. Oh, sure, there’s nothing remarkable about the directing job, and some of the acting choices were atrocious (notably Victoria Rowell’s excessively pouty-faced spoiled daughter act). But there’s nothing wrong with this movie that can’t be traced directly to its astoundingly unfunny script. Billy Wilder brought back from the dead couldn’t have directed a funny movie based on this screenplay.
And considering that Cosby was the executive producer, and is even credited with coming up with the story, something tells me he was desperately trying to pin the blame on anyone else but himself. But at some point, he must have believed this was a good script. Because if Bill Cosby, the most popular TV dad of all time, had hated the screenplay, I’m pretty sure the writer would have bent over backwards doing rewrites just to please him.
It’s entirely possible that this movie is the precise moment where Cosby lost his comedic touch. Especially when you take into account his later film Ghost Dad, which he didn’t subsequently annihilate in talk show interviews, but which was almost as terrible.
As expected, Leonard Part 6 cleaned up at the 1987 Razzie Awards (beating out formidable competition like Jaws: The Revenge and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace), and Cosby actually requested that he be given his award for Worst Actor in person. Which could be the only time in the last twenty years that the man hasn’t taken himself seriously.
Once the video release and initial round of cable showings were over, the legend goes that Cosby bought the distribution rights to Leonard Part 6 so that the film could never be shown anywhere again. And for a long time, the lack of a DVD release seemed to bear out that legend.
For years, the film was only available on used VHS. Which was fine, considering used VHS tapes of Leonard Part 6 are more plentiful than used diapers in landfills. I believe VHS tapes of Leonard Part 6 are actually worth less than the plastic they’re made out of.
But amazingly enough, the movie eventually made its way to DVD in 2005. Don’t ask me how or why. They stopped selling Pudding Pops, so I guess Cosby really needed the cash.
In the end, the question might not be how one of the most popular stars in TV history made a movie this bad. The question may really be: how did the man responsible for this movie, Ghost Dad, The Cosby Mysteries, and a revival of Kids Say the Darndest Things ever manage to create one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time?