Monday, November 20, 2023

The Hoax (1972)

          Featuring a plot so thin it could barely power a sitcom episode, jokes so anemic they mostly elicit indifference, and a musical score so overzealous that cues land like the rim shots nightclub comics use to juice lifeless routines, The Hoax strains viewer patience throughout its 85-minute running time. About the only things that make the picture tolerable are an outlandish premise, an early-career performance by someone who later became a familiar face on TV, and the choice to keep things in a family-friendly lane even though the storyline focuses on two grown men, one of whom is portrayed as a bachelor with a vigorous sex life—while nothing in the story invites R-rated treatment, innumerable low-budget comedies have used course language and nudity to compensate for missing laughs. All of which is a means of saying that while The Hoax is not a good feature comedy, one gets the sense the folks involved put forth a measure of sincere effort. Accordingly, the movie gets whatever meager credit one awards for vaulting a low bar.
          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

1 comment:

salemslot9 said...

Poster looks like
Pat Boone vs W. C. Fields 🥊