Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Van (1977)

It’s no mystery why most teen sex comedies are awful, since the producers of such films prioritize raunchy humor and sleazy scenarios over more high-minded storytelling considerations. Nonetheless, generating a few cheap laughs (and a few cheap thrills) from a simple premise shouldn’t be the most difficult task in the world. Therefore, upon encountering a dud like The Van, one can only marvel at how completely the filmmakers in question failed to vault such a low hurdle. Built around the most rudimentary of ideas—a high school graduate buys a tricked-out van to use as a bachelor pad on wheels—the movie churns through one unfunny scene after another, the inherent nothingness of each sequence exacerbated by choppy editing. Naturally, the acting is terrible, with the lone exception of future star Danny DeVito, who appears in a smallish supporting role. The picture begins when Bobby (forgettable redhead Stuart Goetz) graduates from high school and cashes in the money he’s made working at a car wash to buy a rig that he christens “Straight Arrow.” (Those words, accompanied by a phallic graphic, appear on the side of Bobby’s van.) Although Bobby is in love with classmate Tina (Deborah White), he spends the summer wooing various women into his van for sex. The comedic “highlight” of his carnal campaign involves sleeping with a heavyset girl whose weight breaks the waterbed Bobby installed in the back of the vehicle. The narrative is disjointed, with subplots introduced and discarded arbitrarily, and whenever the filmmakers run out of ideas (which is often), they cut to a montage and play the tacky soft-rock song “Chevy Van”—notwithstanding the fact that the Straight Arrow is a Dodge. The Van is so enervated that at one point, Bobby and Tina spend an entire lengthy montage attending a beachside van show, looking at other people’s tricked-out rigs with admiration. And as if failing to deliver in every other way wasn’t bad enough, The Van strikes out in the smut department, since there’s virtually no nudity in the film. So, unless ogling vehicles that are adorned with airbrushed murals raises your temperature, leave this wreck on the side of the highway where it belongs.

The Van: LAME

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