Truly vile, this low-budget attempt at spoofing the private-eye genre features excitable character actor Allen Garfield in one of his few leading roles, but the picture’s real claim to notoriety is that it’s an early effort by director John G. Avildsen, who later rose to fame with the Rocky and Karate Kid franchises. Whereas those series comprise feel-good family entertainment, Cry Uncle is a gutter-level sex flick; in fact, thanks to copious amounts of nudity, a few unpleasantly realistic sex scenes, and a generally depraved atmosphere, Cry Uncle carried an X-rating in its original release. The story is the usual film-noir gobbledygook about a private detective getting embroiled in a morally complex blackmail case, and (of course) the detective becomes sexually involved with someone related to the case. On the plus side are a few amusing throwaway moments, like the scene with a chain-smoking cop (Paul Sorvino in an early role) who can’t stop coughing. Additionally, some viewers might find Garfield’s performance amusing, since he takes his exacerbated-everyman persona to a greater extreme here than in most other films. However, it’s difficult to see beyond the movie’s grimy sexual content, since lowbrow smut infuses nearly every frame (in the few scenes when characters aren’t actually screwing, they’re talking about screwing). Given that most of the carnal scenes involve Garfield, whose physique is not exactly that of an Adonis, it’s evident that Avildsen was after something other than titillation—there’s nothing remotely sexy about watching hairy, overweight, sweaty Garfield mount one woman after another. Presumably, Avildsen was trying to mock the film-noir trope of private dicks being sexual catnip for all the women they meet. Whatever the intent, humor is nowhere to be found in scenes like the jaw-dropping moment when Garfield’s sex-crazed character rapes a corpse. The irony is that if Cry Uncle didn’t have so much sleaze, it might have been a watchable spoof. As is, however, the plot-driven scenes are probably boring for viewers who prefer the raunchy bits, and the sex scenes are so unpleasant they sour the experience of following the story.
Cry Uncle: SQUARE