Reviewed By Jack Sommersby
Posted 06/13/15 18:55:39

"'Dude', This Thing Sucks"
1 stars (Sucks)

Proves that even a monumentally untalented director can still manage to wrangle herself some work.

After perpetrating the brain-dead garbage-fests Suburbia, The Boys Next Door, and Hollywood Vice Squad onto unsuspecting audiences, director Penelope Spheeris has found another way to insult her profession with the moronic Dudes, and though it flies by adroitly enough it’s so dreadfully written that the screenplay wouldn’t be out of place scribbled on a filthy men’s-room wall. What there is of the bare-bones story involves three teenage punk rockers Grant (Jon Cryer), Biscuit (Daniel Roebuck) and Milo (Flea) taking their thousand-dollar nest egg and leaving New York City for California in Grant’s VW bug only for their trek to be interrupted one night as they’re camping out in the Utah desert by a group of pick-up-driving white supremacists who rob them at gunpoint and subsequently kill Milo, with Grant and Biscuit managing to elude capture and the next day setting out to locate the gang and exact the proper violent revenge. Nothing particularly unworkable, mind you, if a moviemaker with a penchant for both staging exciting action and giving us vivid characters amid the barren western landscapes had pulled the duty, but our three unappealing protagonists look like they just crawled out of a roach motel, and the scenes are often poorly composed and shaped. (Why Spheeris is still employed is a mystery. Does she have blackmail material on a studio executive?) Cryer, a mediocre actor riding on fumes from his Pretty in Pink days, doesn’t make much of an impression, and Roebuck, portrayer of the conscience-deprived killer in River’s Edge, has all the appeal of putrefied lettuce -- they’re supposed to make for quite the quirky oddball pairing, but all they do is induce nausea in audience members of even myopic eyesight. (The best performance is given by the always-reliable Catherine Mary Stewart, who plays a Chicago-native tow-truck operator who comes to the aid of our lackluster heroes, and she gets us to immediately yield to her to the point where we wish the entire movie had been centered around her.) Dudes is part road movie, part action movie, and its jarring shifts in tone render us perplexed at how exactly we’re supposed to respond to it -- its diaphanous genres bang together like railroad cars, with the wreckage ninety minutes of near-unwatchable tedium that never comes close to coalescing into anything even remotely organic. We get two sets of dream sequences with lurid purple lighting that are more avant-garde than arresting (they make an Andy Warhol production seem like a model of restraint), and apparitions of a ghostly Old West gunfighter whose metaphysical relevance is banal in the extreme (and you thought the cowboy stuff in the horror-comedy House II: The Second Story was pushing it!). The same-year-released Straight to Hell by the eclectic Alex Cox, which also tried combining these genres, was a calamity, but at least it was a fascinating calamity, whereas Dudes lacks artistic judgment and has all the vision of a detergent commercial. I don’t know how, but Spheeris managed to persuade Oliver Stone’s regular cinematographer Robert Richardson to come aboard, along with the acute editor Andy Horvitch of the fine Renny Harlin-directed Prison, but it’s a good thing because they succeed in giving this dead-on-arrival its only areas of competence.

To all your two ir three actual fans of the movie, it's still not available on DVD. Shucks.

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