Theme From Off The Wall by Debbi Neal
Interesting Dated References: Jokes
Best Line: “I judge a man by three things: What he says, what he does, and how tall he is.”
Social Context: Promoting every racial and sexual stereotype known to man.
Summary: So this rich kid Randy gets dropped off to go camping and he doesn’t get on the bus. Instead he just starts hitch-hiking. Lo and behold he meets the charming and streetwise Rico. They get picked up by Rosanna Arquette and then get chased by a cop into town to the tune of “Keep Pushing” by REO Speedwagon. Once in town, an olde-timey player piano starts up and we have what is obviously some type of homage to Benny Hill. Double-time footage, wacky looks, people breaking stuff, and of course the sped-up piano. After the car crashes, Arquette disappears and the two men are charged with something. Just in case you didn’t notice, this is some type of wacky slapstick comedy movie.
The boys are sentenced, comedically, to 6 months in the Snake Canyon Prison. It’s pretty obvious this movie is operating on a budget of approximately $7.00 (US). The prison is some type of factory that the producers were probably able to rent because it was cheap. Paul Sorvino is the bumbling redneck warden. Yes, that Paul Sorvino. You know, we should actually track Paul down and ask him how much he got paid for this film since it seems like all information about it has been deleted from the internet. The Writer/Directors other credits include Spy Hard and some Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen Mothers Day special. Obviously we are dealing with real professionals on all levels here.
Moving on, Rico and Randy are introduced to the prison population during a hilarious food fight scene that features, for some reason, Joe Jackson’s “Look Sharp.” It is during this scene that we meet a variety of the prison’s characters including the guy who thinks he’s a chicken, the two big fat gay wrestlers, a huge vat of egg salad, and a toaster that launches toast at people. It’s typical slapstick fare, but it’s ridiculously unfunny. Movies like Airplane, Kentucky Fried Movie and Police Academy were funny because although they were silly and slapstick, they actually created a story that somehow made sense and had characters played by actors who were actually humorous. The writing and jokes in Off The Wall are uninspired as shit. It’s movies like this that make me wish I never fucking started this website.
Okay, after the food fight we get to see more hilarious hijinx in the yard. It is becoming apparent one of the wrestlers has a crush on Rico and that scorns the other, fatter wrestler. Do you like that joke where an authority figure repeatedly mispronounces his assistant’s name? If you do, you’ll love Paul Sorvino in his role as the warden, and his assistant Wally Miskowitz, whose last name Sorvino mispronounces 35 times throughout the movie. It should be noted Wally the assistant is played by Dick Chudnow, who was also the cowriter of Off The Wall. Imagine it taking two people to write a movie like this.
Rosanna Arquette was pretty cute when she was younger. She shows up at the prison to let the guys know that she’s going to help get them out. Back in prison life, the scorned wrestler tries to kill Rico and winds up hurting himself so badly he can’t wrestle. This leaves the other wrestler to pick Rico as his partner and so begins a series of hilarious hijinx that will have you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next punch line. Look, even if you give up all expectations and say, “I’m just going to laugh at the jokes,” this movie still makes no fucking sense.
Rosanna Arquette revisits the prison disguised as a black blues singer. She promises to get them out before the big wrestling match that Rico must compete in. At this point I should mention Randy has become smitten with warden Sorvino’s daughter, who is allowed to roam about the prison. And what the fuck, another hit song? This time Styx’s “Too Much Time On My Hands.” I’m pretty much convinced the makers of this movie blew all their money on licensing popular songs and skimping on such elements as plot, set, dialogue, and jokes.
Rocky-esque training montage, bad joke, bad joke, bad prop, bad prop, and there you have it. We arrive at the big showdown wrestling match. Buck Banner and The Outcasts provide the musical entertainment and after significant camera time (they must have been the brother of the producer) the fight begins. This is ridiculous. The fight drags on for like 30 minutes, Rosanna Arquette busts in with a tank, all the prisoners escape, Rico, Randy, Arquette, and the warden’s daughter all get on a helicopter and sail away. Then the warden and his assistant discover the warden’s dog is an alien. Then the credits roll.
Poster and Box Art: First off, I’m not even certain Off The Wall had a theatrical release. It certainly seems plausible that it was rushed direct to video, and I can’t find a poster for it anywhere. Off The Wall has a descent enough box. It’s got that wacky drawing thing going on and references several “funny” scenes in the movie. There’s only one problem with this box. Actually, two. The drawing of Rico looks nothing like him. The drawing of the chick, who is either supposed to be Rosanna Arquette or the warden’s daughter, looks like neither. Interestingly enough, I found an Australian VHS version of the art. It appears to actually be art that was traced/redrawn from the actual theatrical cover. That would mean that someone took the effort to actually recreate the art. That’s just insane. There’s also the one below from some foreign country.
Availability: Yes, you, too, can own a beat-up used copy of Off The Wall on VHS. I wouldn’t count on a DVD anytime soon.