O.C. and Stiggs

Starring:
  • Lobsters
  • The Gila Monster
  • Whacky! Sound Effects

 

Directed by KILLER WEED
"Hey O.C., you think there's any chance Dennis and Bob will stop bogarting the good stuff? This script really sucks and we sure could use the help!"

Altman's Marxist Lobsters Pinch the Fingers of Plutocracy

Weed. That's the only way to explain O.C. And Stiggs. And not just any weed, but KILLER WEED. Hopper-Quality Home Grown. That's how Robert Altman took a WHACKY! National Lampoon comic and turned it into, as the tagline very specifically tells us, "Adventures in Upper-Middle Class Suburbia." "Stiggs" is Mark Stiggs (the never-heard-from-again Neill Barry), who has a soft spot in his heart for the country of Gabon. "O.C." stands for Oliver Cromwell Ogleby (the never-heard-from-again Daniel Jenkins), and like his namesake's subjugation of Ireland in the battles of Dunbar and Worcester, O.C. And Stiggs must use confusion as a weapon to overthrow the royalty of Scottsdale, Arizona (The Schwab family, whose patriarch is an evil racist insurance salesman) and reign like kings in their victory over the plutocrats. Insurance companies are not a parliament willing to dissolve, so our mutinist rebels must forcibly eject the Schwab family from their seat of power, using the most powerful forces known to man: Dennis Hopper's Apocalypse Now! persona, army chopper, and secret stash of the good stuff. And barbecued lobsters.

O.C. And Stiggs are supposed to be Ferris Bueller-esque 1980's high school cool guys: They wear linen pants and rayon shirts unbuttoned to their wispy chest hairs. But Stiggs wears Bono "Fly" goggles so big he looks like a fifth grader in them. Most of the movie consists of our Marxist rebels wearing WHACKY! outfits: tuxedos, football jerseys, and these bermuda shorts, mismatched plaid shirt and tie outfits that make them look like a cross between junior high kids on "Nerd Day" and Jesper Parnevik. Their vehicle, the WHACKY!-ily named "Gila Monster," is a rusty black Studebaker jacked up on monster truck wheels and hydraulics. They keep their retarded friend Dennis around because his mom's the hot school nurse, and they use some sort of remote control device to make the water fountain explode when Randall Schwab Jr. (Jon Cryer) takes a drink. The obvious problem is this: If these guys are supposed to be "cool," then why are they such dorks?

Well, they're more than just dorks. There's more homoerotic tension between O.C. And Stiggs than between Dude and Sweet in Dude, Where's My Car?. We get a flashback montage of their "ludicrous" summer together, which included snorkeling with their pants down and kissing while surfing together. Stiggs also doesn't seem to keen on O.C.'s new girlfriend, either, but let's just get to their targets of torture: the evil Schwab family. Randall Schwab (Paul Dooley, who performs the entire role from his gall bladder) is an insurance salesman who likes to refer to his daughter's Asian fiance as "it" and enjoys vanilla ice cream because "it's not colored." He also enjoys barbecued lobster, which if he vomits it later, he'll swallow it right back down. His wife Elinor Schwab (Jane Curtin) spends, literally, every second of her screen time sloshing around drunk, hiding her vodka in binoculars and heads of lettuce. Altman makes fun of her alcoholism by having her prick her fingers on cacti, accompanied by Boing! sound effects. Their Randall Jr. (Jon Cryer) son looks like Arvid from "Head of the Class" and slobbers on himself reading sex mags. And their daughter Lenora (Laura Erstein) marries a "Chink" to be a caddy for her dad.

O.C and Stiggs tell their story in flashback during a phone conversation to the king of Gabon. That's going to need some explanation. O.C.'s crazy grandpa (Ray Walston) tells Abe Simpson-style rambling stories, but he can't get medical help because the Schwabs canceled his insurance, even though he was a cop for forty years. The two friends seem to have a little more than just friendship at stake, because Stiggs gets pouty when he learns that O.C. will have to move to Arkansas. So to earn revenge, O.C. and Stiggs jump the Schwab fence to steal their lobsters from the grill while the family is in watching dad's insurance commercial. Then they tap into the Schwab phone line and call Gabon to talk to King Bongo (?!) about their WHACKY! antics. That's Altman's brilliantly complex, Soderbergh-esque narrative structure. Altman seems to forget about the whole flashback thing by the end, but that still doesn't stop the WHACKY! Marxist antics. Hey, not only does the O.C. stand for Oliver Cromwell, Stiggs tells the school counselor that he's "Out of Control!"

Actually, it's Altman who's out of control. O.C. And Stiggs are determined to ruin the Schwab/Chink (Altman's word, not mine) wedding, so in their nerd outfits and the Gila Monster, they pay none other than Dennis Hopper a visit. They need a present for the wedding, so Dennis, obviously high and crazy, walks out in his fatigues and headband from Apocalypse Now!. Apparently, his character Sponson hangs out in a shack down by the river, playing on his ham radio, tending to his "thirty acres of pot," which Altman lovingly soft-focuses on while Dennis dispenses the following wisdom: "Guns are disease, man. You know what I mean, man? I mean, to save yourself from the disease, man, you've got to vaccinate yourself with more guns, man. That's why doctors never get sick, man. They own all the vaccine! So if you're going to survive in this world, man, you've got to vaccinate yourself with guns....man!" And then he squeezes off a few rounds from his Uzi and gift wraps it for the Schwab wedding.

Back at the wedding, pigeons are pooping all over the rich people. This is another Brilliant Altman Motif ®, but not as brilliant as O.C. and Stiggs showing up in the backfiring Studebaker Monster Truck in their tuxedos. O.C. dances with the Redeeming Female Who Thinks Her Rich Boyfriend is a Prick (Michelle, played by Cynthia Nixon). She threatens Stiggs' turf, I think, so Stiggs convinces Retarded Friend to take out the machine gun and start firing, which, in a brilliant Altman-esque Thematic ® brings a chandelier crashing into the wedding cake. You know, like Oliver Cromwell's brilliant, subversive maneuvers at Dunkirk in which he used the Irish army's own tactics against them.

O.C. asks Michelle to go out for lobster (!), which doesn't work out to well, so Phase Two of the plan goes into effect. O.C. And Stiggs need alcohol, so they go to their old friend Bob the Wino, played by Melvin Van Peebles. Altman has no chance at ever winning the NAACP award after making drunk Melvin do a Lincoln joke ("I freed the who?") and drink wine that's not any of that "Uncle Remus bullshit." O.C. And Stiggs are wearing American flag collared shirts, which to Altman makes them race crusaders. So later, when Wino Bob dies, they bury him on the golf course, and Cromwell chips his approach shot over Wino Bob's grave. I'm not sure what any of these means, other than it's "Altman-esque," but after toking up with Dennis Hopper all day, I'm sure Altman got a good laugh out of it while scarfing down a bag of Funyons. Really, what the hell is Altman thinking?

Well, Altman obviously thinks he's onto Preston Sturgis-meets-Animal House brilliant satire. Martin Mull is the "cool" neighbor who tells O.C. and Stiggs when Schwab isn't home. For some reason, Mull is having lunch with Bob Uecker (?!), who is rambling on about Yogi Berra while Mull's Altman Overlapping Conversation ® with Stiggs drowns him out. Mull ponders, "I wonder where all the poor people are tonight?" and declares that his job is to "drink and make a lot of money." Altman can't let a line like that go without an Altman Bourgeois Visual ®, so he films Mull from behind an ejaculating fountain.

Ok, finally we're to the end of this crap. Since Mrs. Schwab is too drunk to care, O.C. And Stiggs—in typical Altman Misogyny ®—get a couple of "sluts" and invite all Wino Bob's friends over to the Schwab mansion. Mrs. Schwab is having a party, which Stiggs declares is "full of philanthropic rich women," so the neglected rich housewives skivvy down with the winos, and everybody boils a lobster in the hot tub. "Look," says Altman, "There's no real difference between cheap vodka and Skyy vodka alcoholics!" That is insightful. Altman obviously thinks this whole lobster idea is pure genius, but not as funny as the grand finale. O.C. and Stiggs find Schwab's underground bunker, fully stocked with survival goods and a TV. So O.C. and Stiggs watch a television preacher talking about how "Democracy has failed!" while they and Schwab have a fireworks fight, which Altman sets to banjo music. Now at this point in the shoot, Altman is so blasted from the KILLER WEED that he thinks this is hilarious, biting satire. But alas, it's merely a prelude to the coup de gras. Desperate, Stiggs calls Dennis Hopper on the radio, who, to the tune of "Ride of the Valkyries" (Yes, the piece from Apocalypse Now!), jumps in the chopper and heads to Upper Middle Class Suburban Scottsdale. "All the goddamn houses look the same!" notices Dennis. "Look for the one with the American flags!" instructs Stiggs. Even the characters are aware that this is "Altman-esque!" So Dennis storms through the Schwab house taking "Gooks" prisoner until the "Slant" husband of Lenora leads him to the tunnel. O.C. tosses a grenade into the bunker, which explodes into the sky with the rest of fireworks in front of Altman Chandeliers and Fountains ®. And to the tune of "America the Beautiful" played on the electric guitar, Dennis drops Schwab off at the "America's Playland" Water Park. And that's Altman's victory over the rich.

I didn't even really make fun of this movie—I merely reported the plot. That's the worst thing that could have been done to it. Seriously, you be the judge. If you think we owe Altman one glop of pigeon shit for his body of work, then you haven't sat through the amount of unwatchable Altman crap he has made. He's made more bad movies than any respected filmmaker I can think of. O.C. and Stiggs is easily one of the five worst movies I've ever seen, and the worst is yet to come this week from JimmyO. "But Altman's a brilliant visual stylist...." Fine. But this shit doesn't make any sense. Please explain the whole obsession Stiggs has with Gabon. Stiggs gets really pissed off when he thinks he's lost his stamp of King Bongo of Gabon (which he stole from Schwab), and yet, somehow, they prank phone call King Bongo from Schwab's phone and talk to him for hours about their WHACKY! adventures in upper-middle class suburbia. "Brilliant visual stylings" or not, that's just stupid. I figured out that he made Popeye into an essay on Cornelius Vanderbilt, but I can't explain the whole Gabon thing.

Plus, Altman films it poorly. Actors stumble over their lines, but Altman—again, presumably blasted from the KILLER WEED—doesn't bother with another take. There's all sorts of Beyond Therapy style WHACKY! sound effects. Finger pricks on cacti yield WHACKY! "Boing!" sound effects, but my favorite Altman Styling ® is the public domain version of the "Sanford and Son" theme that plays every time the Gila Monster appears. There's also some 80's techno music too, but the real musical star is some outfit called King Sunny Adé and his African Beats. Altman loves to put Africa comments in his movies, so my guess is that Altman heard these guys one night while blasted on the KILLER WEED and said, "Hi, my name's Bob Altman. I'm an Academy Award nominated director, and you guys so have to be in my next movie!" Here, King Sunny replaces the bourgeois play at the theater, which disgusts all the white people. And if you didn't think it possible for two Scottsdale Marxist Rebels to have a transcontinental social conscious, the final shot of the film is O.C. And Stiggs bouncing along in the Gila Monster to the tune of public domain Sanford and Son while Altman focuses on the Ganbonese flag on the back. Ok, Altmanites: explain what the hell that's about. And no, Hopper and Altman's private stash won't help you out.

The Pitch:
2 Animal House
Plus
2 Gosford Park
Equals
4 O.C. And Stiggs
See It For:

Adventures in Upper Middle Class Suburbia with WHACKY LOBSTERS!!!