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National Lampoon's Gold Diggers

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 03/29/05 13:02:06

"There's bad, there's unwatchable, and then there's National Lampoon."
1 stars (Sucks)

There is no excuse for me to have bothered to watch “National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers.” The title alone should have kept me away; the Lampoon label is the kiss of death for comedies these days. Video stores have been overrun in the past few months with a horde of unwatchable crappers, ranging from the depressingly dreadful “National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze” (Get it? “Daze?” Yawn.) to the stupefyingly gawdawful “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure” (the title alone screams “you really don’t want to watch this”). The idea was to buy up any low budget junker they can, then slap the Lampoon name on it and hope that amnesiac “Animal House” fans will rent and buy in droves. The result, however, was a landslide of direct-to-video excrement the likes of which have rarely been seen without the appearance of Ice-T.

Which brings me, finally, to “Gold Diggers,” one of the rare Lampoon movies to land a mercifully brief theatrical run. (You didn’t catch it? Lucky bastard.) It nabbed my attention not for the overzealous use of the oft-nekkid Nikki Ziering in the advertising campaign, but for the casting of Will Friedle and Chris Owen. Owen, you remember, played the goofy-looking kid in “American Pie,” “October Sky,” and “Angus.” Friedle, meanwhile, has ranked up enough cool points to count me as a loyal fan; he’s been dependable in everything from the better-than-you-think sitcom “Boy Meets World” to his voiceover work in such cartoons as “Batman Beyond” and “Kim Possible.” Friedle’s got a new movie? I gotta see it… even if the Lampoon name means Deep Hurting.

Anyway. In “Gold Diggers” (formerly titled “Lady Killers,” before they realized somebody else already had that title), Friedle is Cal, Owen is Lenny. They’re two idiot scam artists who decide to marry two aging billionaires for their money, assuming the broads will kick off before too long. Thing is, the aging billionaires aren’t billionaires at all, and they’re planning to kill the boys and rake in a large insurance check.

You can see already that this film, bearing the Lampoon name, will not contain any biting dark humor that one could find in such a premise. Instead, we’ll be assaulted with a barrage of dick and fart jokes that no comic master could salvage. (Indeed, the only time I laughed at all was when Friedle pulled out a goofy look, an unscripted bit of physical comedy. The actual written material, well… yikes.)

I felt pity for Owen and Friedle, both of whom I’m guessing took this two weeks’ worth of work in the hopes of beefing up their resumes. But more pity went to Louise Lasser and Renee Taylor, playing the old hags; their roles here consist of running around in skimpy outfits to remind all the frat boys renting the damn movie in the hopes of seeing Ziering’s boobies that hey, older women are wrinkly and icky. Their characters are downright embarrassing.

So what does Ziering have to do with any of this? Well, in what has to be the flimsiest excuse for T&A outside of the porn industry, she appears as the spokesmodel for the condom company the old women own. (Because, I dunno, condoms = sex = comedy? I give up.) She appears in one dumbass dream sequence, then again in some hallucination on Cal’s part, then again at the end. In other words, she was written in explicitly as a marketing ploy, and that’s just stupid.

(Seriously, guys, Ziering’s the type of Playmate whose lone talent is that she shows off her fake breasts at the drop of a hat. You don’t need to rent the unrated DVD of “Gold Diggers” to see them. I’m sure they’re available for free gawking somewhere online. Save yourself the money and the time.)

For a solid bummer, check out the movie’s official website, where you’ll find production notes that hype the film as “a character-driven comedy,” where Ziering won over the crew with her brilliant “comedic timing.” And you’ll get this piece of genius: “It was important for Priesler that ‘Gold Diggers’ not turn into a typical, clichéd ‘overblown’ comedy.” Oh, and the director hopes that “the film will inspire the audience to take chances on love.”

Let’s consider this for a moment. Somewhere in Los Angeles, somebody was hired to look at “Gold Diggers,” interview the dumbass who made it, then convert everything seen and heard into a press piece eager to convince potential viewers that this is something special. And this sort of this happens every day, with all sorts of bad movies. Depressing, isn’t it?

If you’re not depressed yet, then consider that many people will rent “Gold Diggers,” if not because they’re too stupid to realize that Lampoon is no longer affiliated with the classic comedies we love, then because they see Nikki Ziering’s cleavage on the DVD cover and want to spend an hour and a half masturbating. Either way, it’ll make a mild amount of cash, enough, at least, to support more Lampoon movies. The circle remains unbroken.

The horror. The horror.

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