Feb 15, 2018
Wild Wild West (1999) (part 2 of 11)
The scene shifts to a stagecoach across town, which we know because a caption appears that helpfully says, “Meanwhile …. across town”. The camera pans into the stagecoach, where a black-cloaked man is surrounded by buxom ladies. He’s sporting a moustache and scowl that oh-so-subtly suggest he’s evil. Before we get a chance to find out for sure, the scene shifts almost as instantly to a place called Fat-Can Candy’s Gentleman’s Club, which sounds like a fun place to take the kids after school.
Here comes our first look at Wild Wild West‘s other hero, played by Kevin Kline. And to my horror, he’s dressed in drag. It’s one of the worst attempts at impersonating a woman I’ve ever laid eyes on. This makes Wesley Snipes look like Playboy material. And yet, even though Kline’s female disguise is not even remotely passable to anyone with eyesight, he somehow manages to catch the eye of several male bar patrons. Among the men is the scientist-killing Mr. Ear Trumpet from the film’s opening scene, who blows drunk smooches Kline’s way.
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Another bar patron approaches Kline and whispers a request in his ear; Kline responds by saying that he unfortunately has tonsillitis. Was that another penis joke? In less than a minute? How many more can they cram in? (Sorry, poor choice of words.) And yes, Kline’s female voice is not even remotely passable to anyone who possesses hearing.
Mr. Ear Trumpet sits at a table with a man sporting two lengthy ponytails on either side of his head, and I’m assuming these are to give him some sort of physically identifying characteristic. Both men look upstairs at a large steamer trunk being carried into a room, with muffled cries for help emanating from inside the trunk. The cries are loud enough to wake the neighbors and their dead cat, yet no one in the saloon gives the trunk so much as a glance.
Mr. Ear Trumpet says that his “merchandise” has shown up, but the ponytail man’s merchandise hasn’t. Mr. Ponytails reassures Mr. Ear Trumpet that he’ll be keeping up his end of the bargain, using a voice so stilted he could join the circus. And the only reason he says this awkward line is to let the audience know that Mr. Ear Trumpet is in fact General McGrath.
Mr. Ponytails suggests they go check the “merchandise”, but McGrath stands up and asks to be directed towards the ladies of the establishment. He actually refers to them as “the poot”, but don’t ask me why.
Meanwhile, the guy who propositioned Kline earlier continues his quest to bed the world’s most obvious man, and Kline continues to refuse. Eventually, Kline gets fed up and punches the dude out. Except, he does it with a spring-loaded corsage on his dress, which taps the guy so lightly in the face that he probably fell unconscious from embarrassment. And yes, it does make a cartoonish springy sound, why do you ask?
Cut back to Jim West, who’s still under the water tower, getting dressed. I guess he must like the feel of the wind between his legs, or something. Two Confederates show up and try to swing beams at him, but a blind man would probably have better aim, so they end up getting dispatched by Jim’s belt, of all things.
Then two more Confederates show up with rifles (wow, ranged weapons, what a concept!), but they’re quickly taken care of when the friendly water tower comes to Jim’s aid and falls on top of them, Mousetrap™-style. This also causes Belle (no longer naked, sadly) to fall out of the tank and somehow end up in Jim’s arms twenty feet away. The ensuing crash spooks the horses once again, and they start running off with the wagon. Who trained these horses, anyway? The Cowardly Lion?
Jim, apparently seeing something important escape on the wagon, decides to give chase. But before he does that, since he has the time and all, he reclaims his hat, flips it onto his head, and kisses his gal goodbye for the rest of the movie. He then grabs a conveniently (told ya!) placed pulley and uses it as a makeshift zip line to catch up with the wagon.
Instead of, you know, trying to take control of the runaway wagon to keep it from crashing into a tree or something, Jim decides his main priority is to open one of the crates. Upon doing so, he discovers it’s filled with bottled nitro. Jim is outraged that nitro would be transported this way, and I have to agree, considering the way the Confederates carelessly threw the crates onto a wagon pulled by a team of horses that would probably get spooked by chirping crickets.
Then it’s back to the saloon we go, with Mr. Ear Trumpet sorting through a lineup of saloon girls. Several of them are so ridiculously disfigured, you’d think this place was really called Fat-Can Candy’s Circus Freakshow. One girl happens to be an uber-hottie compared to the rest, but before McGrath can more than glance at her, Kline steps in and shoves her aside, causing a cartoonish glass-shattering sound effect off-camera. McGrath, somehow infatuated with this hunk of man-woman, asks Kline what his name is.
“Dora,” Kline says in a voice as sexy as a rabies shot. McGrath pines, “My mother’s name was Dora.” Wow… that’s… quite a lovely sentiment to share with a prostitute.
As McGrath leads “Dora” into the main hall of the saloon, the guy whom Kline “punched” out with his spring-loaded corsage reappears, and asks what kind of a woman “she” is. McGrath responds by shooting the man and declaring, “She’s mine!” And all that follows in a moment of indifferent silence from the crowd, after which the saloon continues about its business. Remind me not to ask a girl what kind of woman she is in that establishment.
Then, for no reason, McGrath suddenly declares he wants to hear a “ditty” from Dora, and shoves her onto a nearby stage to hear her sing. As McGrath sits down to listen, he makes extra-sure he can hear, by tipping his ear trumpet downward and… oh, gross. Liquid earwax drips out onto his clothes. An overly dramatic zoom-in on Kline’s disgusted expression gives the audience time to vomit… er, laugh.
With this very necessary image burned into our brains, we cut back to Jim, who by now has climbed between the horses in an attempt to get them to stop. Tension fails to mount when he sees the path they’re on leads straight to a cliff. Much like all paths in the Old West, I’m sure.
But this cliff just so happens to overlook Fat-Can Candy’s saloon! Thank the Gods of Plot Contrivance that the horses abruptly stop at this particular cliff’s edge. Unfortunately, this throws Jim forward in the process, but fortunately, he grabs the reins of a steed that has one crazy-strong neck, because it somehow doesn’t snap as Jim hangs his full weight over the cliff. Spared from plunging into the warped perspective of a matte painting, Jim climbs back up onto the cliff’s edge.
As he catches his breath, he happens to peer down through a window into the saloon, where he sees Mr. Ear Trumpet inside. “General Bloodbath McGrath,” Jim informs the audience, as I wonder when his friends Bloodshed van Zed and Slaughter von Walter will show up.
Now that Jim has conveniently found McGrath, the scene shifts back inside the saloon, where Kline is somehow convincing everyone he sounds like a woman when he sings (while humping a pole, no less). This “ditty” complete, McGrath can’t wait any longer to get a hold of what he calls that “ham” atop her “skinny legs” (just try to erase that mental image from your minds). So he and Kline finally head upstairs to where all the whorin’ goes on.
As they search for a room, Kline opens one door and is surprised by what’s inside, commenting, “That’s a new one.” The sound of a sheep bleating is thankfully all we get of that joke’s punch line. Finally, the two lovebirds are alone in a room, and Kline asks Mr. Ear Trumpet to remove a clasp on Kline’s clothes. McGrath complies, and opens up a buckle that displays two hypnotic spirals. I can only hope this is intended to help me forget everything I’ve seen so far.
No such luck; the device hypnotizes McGrath instead, and Kline quickly switches to his “man voice”, and says McGrath is now his “little doggie” and will tell him everything he wants to know. But when he orders McGrath to speak, it seems the power of suggestion has taken hold, and McGrath just barks, and he even laps his tongue like a dog. And guess what? Kline’s contraption breaks down right in the middle of this, thus leaving McGrath in a fixed state of dogginess. Wow, who could have seen that one coming?
Just then, Jim bursts through the window and knocks McGrath unconscious. The climb down the cliff must’ve exhausted Jim, because he too believes Kline is a woman, and asks “her” to leave while he prepares to “sing General McGrath a little lullaby” with his pistol. Kline stops Jim from shooting McGrath, leading to an argument that handily gives Mr. Ear Trumpet enough time to wake up, get up, and ram Jim in the back, sending him straight through a wall into the next room (evidently, the saloon was built to the same structural integrity codes as the water tower).
Their emergence into the next room prompts the sheep sound-effect to bleat again. Because bestiality is so funny, isn’t it? McGrath escapes through the door, all the while screaming like he’s about to run and tell his mommy he was being picked on.
Does Jim quickly run after him? If you answered “no, because he instead takes the time to disarm a (very old) saloon girl reaching for a gun, make a witty quip at her, and walk casually out the door after Mr. Ear Trumpet”, you win the right to watch more Wild Wild West! Congratulations!
The music swells heroically as McGrath’s Confederate buddies arrive to kick Jim’s ass. It seems they’ve already forgotten how to use guns, because they charge at Jim one at a time, allowing him to easily take them out with karate moves. (Jim also forgot he has a gun, I guess).
During the ensuing ruckus, Mr. Ponytails (remember him?) orders his men to get the man in the trunk out of the saloon. But then Kline shows up and points a perfume bottle at Ponytails, threatening to squeeze it if they don’t stop. Now, I’m sure that bottle is meant to contain something incredibly toxic, but Mr. Ponytails and his cohorts look at Kline (rightfully) like he’s batshit insane.
But wouldn’t you know it, Jim comes roaring into the scene and bumps into Kline, prompting both our heroes to face each other and point their respective weapons at one another. During this tense gun vs. perfume bottle standoff, Mr. Ponytails and his men escape, and no other Confederates try to attack Jim. I guess they figure the saloon girl has the matter well in hand.
Jim identifies himself as being with the U.S. Army, and Kline rips off his wig and declares he’s a U.S. Marshal. And yet, the standoff continues, as Jim reels from the shock of Kline actually being a man. I know, huh?