Sci/fi buddy comedy independent film made by Harland Williams under his own Harlywood Studios label. Much of it has been posted to YouTube in an effort to spur interest in purchasing the whole thing.

You might not be familiar with the name, but you know who Harland Williams is. He's a large-eared Canadian standup comedian with a weak chin who gets called upon to unleash about 30 seconds of an over the top character onto an audience before disappearing. For example, he played the cop who pulled over the two miscreants of Dumb and Dumber, and, believing he's found evidence of DUI, drinks a bottle of urine.

There's a reason for the fact that Williams only usually gets about two minutes of screen time.

When Wiliams is used correctly, it works fantastically. Few comedians can throw themselves with pure abandon into a ludicrous comic premise and have the complete lack of internal filter to make it work. Oh sure, you have your Will Ferells of this world, but there's guys like him and then there's guys like Williams and Tom Green. No SNL cast member would turn himself into a literal geek act on the underside of a live cow in order to stay in character.

Whereas Harland isn't the kind of guy to engage in that kind of Jackass gross-out, he's still on that level of gonzo-dedication to character. He's often a joy to watch bringing the rest of whatever film he's in to a standstill for a bit, while he's completely ridiculous. But he's never really been a leading man, and it's not about the weak chin and the huge ears and the strange Canadian-ness of his face.

It's because he only works in small doses.

Obviously between jobs, Harland took a rental truck, three friends, a cameraman holding a camera from Best Buy and a "Roswell Alien" mask into the Utah desert and shot some footage with his friends that he stitched together later with the free software you get on a Mac to do video editing, with a couple of prosumer bits (explosion effect, etc.) with crude soundboard sound effects shoved in. That's the ONLY explanation for this direct-to-download enterprise. The movie is literally pasted together complete with cartoon sounds and a Spencer-sourced fart box producing the audio enhancements.

The plot, as best as I can make out, is that Harland, playing "clog maker" Elmer P. Fudge - is driving through the Utah desert for no reason one day and comes across a grey alien who's managed to crash land nearby. Their meeting is... interesting. Fudge lets loose with a series of faux-Appalachian/Texan outbursts ("Great melting turnip sauce!" or some such ad-lib) and the alien (a guy in overalls and a rubber mask) for no discernible reason whatsoever starts "popping and locking" across the highway to a soundtrack only he and Fudge can hear. Mumbling in his own language, which Fudge can't understand (random didgeridoo effects... "uh, potato peeler"?)  he approaches the human and puts his ET-like fingers across Fudge's face. This allows him to suddenly understand English, but gives him the weird idea to do an absolutely terrible Arnold Schwarzenegger accent.

And, yeah. That's how it starts.

 

It tries to be a buddy movie but doesn't quite hit that mark - because there's no commonality. Cheech and Chong threw together Pedro de Packas and Far Out Man together when Far Out Man's car breaks down, but they're both freaks, have a shared love of drugs and a pretty laid back interplay. It also made sense for The Man to hitch-hike WITH de Packas, because the alternative was sleeping in a ditch next to the beach. In this instance, the alien has crash landed on a foreign planet and sees nothing better to do with his time than simply ride with a local.... just because. And said local is, according to the trailer for the film, in possession of an intelligence quotient somewhere between a carpenter ant and an onion bun.

It's the kind of film where Elmer runs out of gas, because he simply decided not to fill the tank even though he's driving aimlessly through the desert for no reason - and decides that rather than walk for miles through the blazing heat, they'll duck across the desert instead and make it a two mile trip. To do so, they have to appease the Hawai'ian desert god (another rubber mask) by doing an interpretive dance. In reality, it's the McGuffin to set up Harland doing yet another set piece of clogging around furiously.

Of course, the US government gets involved, sort of. Because of a lack of budget, some square-jawed 80s action movie hero lookalike rides around the desert on a Honda motorcycle to try and shoot the alien through the head. Because, you know, that's what the US government does.

And really, that's where the movie starts to fall down. Sure, it's a bunch of 80s B-movie tropes thrown together in a blender, but it doesn't give enough of the establishing backstory for any of them as to why these exist, and too much time has passed between the video store heyday of the 1980s where these tropes were born, to the modern day making it inaccessible to many people younger than Williams. If movies from that era have a John Rambo type doing a solo mission in the desert, there's usually a backstory scene explaining how the US government can't be seen to be involved, and rolling hundreds of tanks through inhabited areas would raise suspicion, so they're sending him instead. Usually when a space alien gets in a truck with someone who has the mental capacity of a rotting zucchini, it's because the alien knows that despite the shotcomings of that particular person - wherever the person lives has a sufficiently advanced technology to either jury-rig a fix to the craft, or get a message home. This was the premise behind E.T.. And A.L.F. It's kind of like a student movie where the students are going for as many laughs with as little resources as possible, and therefore slap together a plot such as it is that calls readily understood and well-worn ideas into play quickly.

The thing is, Williams had TIME to do this. His entire movie is for all intents and purposes two guys in a truck, in the DESERT. You cannot tell me that for reasons of pacing, movie run-length or what have you all those important character development and plot exposition scenes had to be cut, to make room for all that.... sand.

My other gripe about the film is that it gets so many things wrong. Fudge can't decide whether he's parodying a Texan, with his "great horny toads!" Yosemite Sam-esque "Sutherinsms", an Appalachian yokel with his huge prosthetic buck teeth and heavily greased back hair and overalls, or some kind of swamp Cajun. It's like a "greatest hits" of "inbred white trash" jokes, only without any of the actual references, because Wiliams is Canadian and wouldn't know a real yokel if one threatened to shoot him in a 'Bama saloon for "actin' like a faggot". The truck he's in is a cherry-restored vintage 50s truck sourced from a California aficionado with a beautiful paint job - whereas what would suit the character better is the kind of bondo-unified collection of beater parts that can barely carry the occupant, a shotgun, a collection of empty beer cans and the Gadsden flag.

None of these USian tropes are actually found in the Utah or Nevada desert. It would be as incongruous as taking a 1950s Brooklynite and situating him in the Bikini Atoll, suggesting he's from there.

And I'm trying to figure out just who in the US wears CLOGS, for God's sake. That's a Dutch thing. It just makes the character seem like nothing more than a bare skeleton on which to hang a bunch of jokey mannerisms. And I hate to say this, but it's been done before, and it's been done better. They were called the "Ernest" movies, done by that "Hey, Vern" guy. Dumb and Dumber did a better job of utilizing a crazy comedian's wacky set pieces involving two idiots.

But this doesn't in any way mean I'm beating up on Harland Wililams. Quite the contrary. It seems that Williams KNOWS his niche, and KNOWS his strengths. KNOWS what he's good at and what his limits are. There's no way in hell him and four other people would be able to make a decent film, so they set out to make a ridiculous movie, a stupid movie, the kind of movie that...

... okay...

if you visit Cheech and Chong's Facebook page occasionally you will see an overkill marijuana smoking setup of great complexity. Something like a three foot long joint that's really more of a sculpture where the wrapping paper for the joint is solidified "dab" or whatever you call the ultra-potent resin you get from combining THC and a few chemistry sets. Packed into that is three pounds of weed with a few ounces of hashish molded with soap molds into decorative chunks of impending brain damage. It weighs about 40lb and would cost you about $20,000 in street value or eight years in the pentientary depending on how you determine the "value". There's an arms race in the weed world, and having simply a few leaves of grass rolled into a rolling paper just won't cut it anymore.

The inherent problem with having that level of stone on your person is, just what in the hell do you do once you and fifty friends have consumed enough THC to turn on half of China, and it would be literally too much work to call Domino's, even though they have your credit card and order on file?

What you need is a truly stupid movie.

No. Hear me out.

Not a bad movie or a cheesy movie. Not one that deliberately tries too hard, like "Return to Blood Fart Lake"*

Not an offensive movie or a low budget movie.

A truly brain damaged, stupid, pointless comedy.

The kind of no-effect, no-thought stream of consciousness sight gag after sight gag that would confuse, but also really entertain a toddler. And though I don't partake of drugs, I'm pretty sure that this movie would so completely fit that bill. The kind of film that has just the right number of ridiculous sight gags that work where you actuallly forget you've spent the past 45 minutes watching a guy in fake buck teeth so big you finally are able to ignore his ears.

THIS, friends. THIS is that movie.

 

 


*Yes, this is a real movie. It's also a sequel. Think about that one.

 

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