Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Voodoo Mambo! The Pest (1997) Intro

The late 80s on into the 90s saw a string of comedians or comically inclined actors with varying degrees of talent each being afforded the opportunity to exhibit a kind of one-man-show tour de force of schtick personalities and slapstick sight gags, with varying degrees of success (or failure, depending on how you slant it). Examples of such farcical, star-making vehicles include:

- Carrot Top, Chairman of the Board
- Adam Sandler, Going Overboard
- Yahoo Serious,  Young Einstein
- Rik Mayall,  Drop Dead Fred
- Chris Elliot, Cabin Boy
- Jim Carrey, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

One of the latter entries into this often ill-begotten trend was The Pest. John Leguizamo had in fact already established himself dramatically, as and action movie costar and even in previous comedic outings such as Two Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Yet this was clearly intended as a reinvention into leading man comedy superstardom à la Jim Carrey. If I've seen the movie in its entirety, I don't remember it; a long ago lackadaisical afternoon viewing on cable TV seems the most likely of circumstance (back when I watched TV). But it's opening credits sequence has nonetheless buoyed itself in the backwaters of my mind along with other inane shit long since jettisoned from pop-culture; to this day I still quote Alexander lines from Robot Jox.

Behold the convergence—terribleness and greatness(?) coming together in an amorphous state. I challenge anyone to come down firmly on either side, and furthermore submit that such a 'yay-or-nay' opinion can never be reached. You will hate this. You will find it juvenile and obnoxious. After the 6th or 7th rewatch, you'll spend the following week half-consciously rapping Leguizamo's lyrics while carrying out mundane tasks, or perhaps wholeheartedly in your own shower. At the very least, I can all but guarantee that the insufferably catchy "Voodoo mambo, chili congo!" will be playing on a mental-track loop while you cruise grocery store aisles.

Pay attention to the numerous artifacts exclusive to that "90s scene" aesthetic: the ponytailed white dude on his skateboard, those animated "Latino party" font credits and the overall sunny bright colors and gaudy fashionwear courtesy of a Miami setting. You gotta hand it to Leguizamo. He leaves nothing on the table here, including his scripted mother with whom he discoes in one of those innocuously PG-13 moments that makes room for the bemused, sitcomedic Puerto Rican family reaction shot. There's also Jeffery Jones on typecast from his Ferris Bueller days as an evil German driving around in a Hummer. This movie actually happened.


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