Written by / 5/12/2020 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S MOVIE MADNESS AKA GOES TO THE MOVIES

Ann Dusenberry in National Lampoon's Movie Madness aka Goes to the Movies Year: 1982 Rating: **1/2
As their second feature, trailing NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE by five years, you’d expect the Lampoons to try for… something big and cinematic... but instead, they made a motion picture that's more like a... well, a magazine (or skit comedy, that Lampoon was also known for)...

Only MOVIE MADNESS lacks madness and couldn’t be more sterile and uninteresting and yet, for fans of really awful, bizarre cinema... or you can call it awfully bizarre... aka GOES TO THE MOVIES amazingly intriguing and curiously insane and something you might have to watch more than once... if you dare!
Diane Lane and Peter Riegert segment GROWING YOURSELF
Consisting of three tales, the first has ANIMAL HOUSE alumni Peter Riegert going through an early midlife crisis. He suddenly dumps his wife (Candy Clark), quits his corporate job, and raises his kids by himself while dating fourteen year old model (played by) Diane Lane, and then voluptuous blonde Teresa Ganzel (shouldn't be much of a crisis with that track record!)...

Owner of a plant store, his life is pleasantly pointless, as is this entire story titled GROWING YOURSELF. And after a few viewings, this one might just... grow on you. The theme seems to insist that baby boomers are never satisfied. The title is a play on finding yourself, and it's a mesh between Buddhism and Americanism, playing out more like one of those SNL skits towards the end of the night (SNL was inspired by the Lampoon after all), trading in funny with offbeat and quirky Monty Python style...
Richard Widmark and Robbie Benson in MUNICIPALIANS
The second is the most bizarre and, dare it be said, the best of the sordid lot as SUCCESS WANTERS has JAWS 2 ingénue Ann Dusenberry as a beautiful college grad who becomes a stripper...

Like something out of O LUCKY MAN... on her first night she’s raped by horny businessmen using, of all things, a stick of butter and then marries a margarine mogul who dies, thus becoming a monopolizing widow bent on revenge against those butter-wielding perverts: Yet her vengeance doesn't entail violence. Her goal is to take over the entire dairy industry.
Ann Dusenberry wants to learn Margarine, and that she does
Ann Dusenberry looks great as usual. Going from husband to husband, dressed to kill in every scene and manipulating herself into more and more power, she eventually becomes the first lady of the U.S. President and before that, the real first lady’s lover.

This is a rampant progression of the first story's theme: that to gain fulfillment in life, you not only have to change your life, you must take over the world.
Ann Dunesburry kisses First Lady Margaret Whitton as Fred Willard as The President looks on
Then we have the last and by far grittiest entry: Independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom directs MUNICIPALIANS (Bob Giraldi directed the first two stories) about a starry-eyed idealist rookie cop, Robby Benson, who, unlike his gruff and lazy partner Richard Widmark, really wants to take the job seriously...

Sluggish scenes where the Oscar/Felix partners drive around busting junkies, whores, and other street trash is like watching HILL STREET BLUES on downers. Which isn't so bad, actually, unless you're sleepy to begin with... But for these guys it's all part of a night's work, and means close to nothing... And here's the comedic catch...
Richard Widmark and Robbie Benson in MUNICIPALIANS
Robbie Benson's character can't see past his own rose colored glasses whilst getting shot and beaten and just about everything else in the Wile E. Coyote tradition (the Unknown Comic's cop flick NIGHT PATROL is much better/worse/entertaining). All the while, Widmark keeps reciting his devil-may-care rules to working the urban beat. His character's reminiscent of callused Film Noir lawman unhindered by the bedlam occurring around them.

Thus the dark comedy relies on a constant state of ambiguity had by all the characters except Benson, who's got his mind set on remaining a good, honest cop despite becoming a bandaged mummy in the process. This final entry lacks any coherent plot/theme but what does it matter? What does any of it matter (perhaps Jaglom's fourth yet ultimately deleted disaster genre entry, THE BOMB, would be better)?
Star Wars parodied like the magazine... so it's not that good, but Movie Madness is Lampoon's most personal
MOVIE MADNESS, on a whole, seems like a stoned writer's workshop with the actors... also including Robert Culp, Christopher Lloyd, Elisha Cook and Candy Clark... just playing along.

But like a train wreck, you might wanna take a peak. And the magazine's cartoon artwork between the stories are actually pretty cool. Again, unlike their great movies ANIMAL HOUSE and VACATION, this is more an eclectic collage liken to an actual magazine.
Ann Dusenberry and Robert Culp in Movie Madness Success Wanters
Random between Segment Magazine Artwork for Movie Madness
Random between Segment Magazine Artwork for Movie Madness
Random between Segment Magazine Artwork for Movie Madness
Random Magazine artwork National Lampoon's Goes to the Movies
Ann Dusenberry in National Lampoon's Movie Madness segment Success Wanters

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