Set in LA (of course), the movie follows two wiseass friends, Clete (Frank Bonner) and Cy (Bill Ewing), who make a wild discovery while exploring a tidal pool—an American hydrogen bomb washed ashore completely intact. Upon confirming via news reports the bomb is legit, the dudes blackmail the city by threatening to explode the device unless citizens send $1 each to a Swiss bank account. The plot doesn’t involve much more than that, excepting inevitable scenes of bumbling authorities trying to identify the blackmailers, plus slightly more imaginative scenes of Southern Californians wrangling with the prospect of impending doom. Given that you’ve never heard of The Hoax, it should come as no surprise to learn the filmmakers failed to exploit the comedic potential of their central concept—instead of a satire exploring greed and paranoia, the filmmakers deliver silly farce powered by amateurish performances and dopey scripting. (Example: After the lads remove part of the bomb’s tailfin to prove they’ve got the device, Cy moans, “I’ve never worked so hard for a piece of tail in my life!”)
As for the aforementioned TV notable, that would be costar Bonner, latter to achieve fame as sleazy salesman Herb Tarlek on WKRP in Cincinnati. Calling him the movie’s standout would be exaggerating, but he’s sufficiently comfortable on camera that he at least seems like a professional actor, whereas his primary scene partner, Ewing, mugs and over-emotes to a tiresome degree. Ewing later found success as a studio executive.
The Hoax: FUNKY