Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Roadie"(1980)d/Alan Rudolph

Tonight we'll examine director Alan Rudolph's 1980 silly-but-sweet kitchen sink rock n' roll/romantic comedy starring the plus-sized crooner Meat Loaf as an unlikely leading man playing a handy beer truck-driving Texan named Travis, who's never left his county and is suddenly thrust into the sex, drugs, and concussion-inducing headbutts that come with being a roadie for rock bands, when he falls in love with a sixteen year old would-be groupie with dreams of losing her virginity to Alice Cooper.I'll let you re-read that premise, as written by a guy named "Big Boy"(Medlin)(sounds more like a Ted Nugent script to me...ba dum bum) and let it sink in properly.I never cared too much for Meat Loaf's theatrical brand of eight track pop music(apart from the tracks that he did vocals for on Nugent's 1976 "Free for All" album , and even then, ehhh...) and I wasn't a big fan of Rocky Horror, either, but I still must've seen this one twenty-five times or more on pay cable in the early eighties.Fleshing out the dated cinematic corny-copia are Kaki "Porky's" Hunter as Travis' underage love interest, Lola, Art "Honeymooners" Carney as Travis' slovenly southern paw, Don "Soul Train" Cornelius as a memorable record company bigwig, and performances by the likes of Blondie, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr.(my least favorite of the III, by far), and ol' Hard-Hearted Alice before the end credits roll.Throw in some quease-worthy BBQ rib-smackin', a redneck wedding, car chase/wrecks, and midgets in satin baseball jackets and you've almost got the complete picture.The story goes like this...
There's more than 17 g of fat on a serving of this Meat Loaf.
We meet electrical whiz-cum-beer truck driver, Travis W. Redfish(Meat Loaf), as he's picked up for work by his best friend, B.B.(Gailard Sartain), amidst some heavy duty comedic gooberage from his father, Corpus(Art Carney) and sister, Alice Poo(Rhonda Bates). During the ride, the good ol' boys encounter music mogul Mohammed Johnson's(Don Cornelius) broken down tour bus on the side of the highway, where Travis spots Lola Bouilliabase(Kaki Hunter), a teenaged beanpole groupie along for the ride, for the first time, and readily agrees to help them get roadworthy with some MacGuyver-esque tweaks.Lola turns on her Olive Oyl charm and convinces Travis to drive them to a Hank Williams, Jr. gig in Houston that night, while B.B. covers for him with the beer delivery route.At the gig, Travis sets up the equipment in record time, gives an angry hayseed a charging headbutt, develops 'brainlock', a condition where he mindlessly spouts gibberish until he gets beer in him, and causes a highway pileup after taking the wheel of Mohammed's limo and spurring on a police chase and roadblock.The mogul touts the hefty young long-haired redneck as the "world's greatest roadie", using his growing affection for the underaged groupie to con him into working for Johnson on tour.Back home, Corpus, Alice, and B.B. receive a postcard from Travis, in the middle of sloppily chowing down on some BBQ ribs.One of the grossest things I've ever had to watch, sauce-faced Art Carney smacking his lips like a backwoods glutton next to a trout-mouthed broad like Rhonda Bates, whose yap is equally saucy.
C'mon, where else are you gonna see Don Cornelius doing the 'Funky Chicken' in a cowboy hat?
Lola confesses to Travis that she plans to lose her virginity to Alice Cooper when the tour lands in New York, while he harnesses electricity from manure to power a Blondie gig where Debbie Harry belts out a Johnny Cash cover.He goes to dinner with the band, but when Lola cockblocks with a band of midgets in satin baseball jackets, it's a food fight, alright.Debbie leaves with a black midget, and Travis vows to get Lola to New York to make her groupie dreams come true.In the Big Apple, Travis barges in on an Alice Cooper soundcheck, fixes the band's sound, and earns a tour bus to drive back to Texas for B.B. and Alice Poo's wedding in, while Lola gets the royal treatment she's been dreaming of, eating a posh dinner with Alice and his constrictor, and watching him perform "Pain" front row and center.Of course, after the obligatory hootenanny at the Redfish wedding, Travis and Lola reconcile and take to the road together in the tour bus, their romantic interlude abruptly interrupted by a damaged spaceship in need of Redfish's technical ingenuity.Hurr-hurr.Cue:Cheap Trick "Everything Works(If You Let It)".Roll credits.
Debbie Harry plays the beer bottles as Travis(Meat Loaf) gets his stationary 'Swim' on.
Of course, I've got roadie tales of my own, having taken to the road with The Business and Dropkick Murphys on their '96-'97 tour, rich with wild nights of drink, drugs, football thugs, acoustic hospital bedside serenades, and ample groupie-hopping to boot.Snorkels were brung, full sacs were emptied, but that's another story for another time, kiddies.Scale-wise, Roadie earns two Wops, and hey, two outta four(ain't bad).Okay, I think I've exhausted all my Meat Loaf-related jokes for the time being, at least until I start covering the Masters of Horror series here.Some day, I'm sure.A light, enjoyable late seventies time capsule that's worth a look now and then.Check it out.
She asked me why the singer's name was Alice, I said, "Baby, you just wouldn't understand..."

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