Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Welcome to Camp Moonraker

In The Simpsons' episode "Homer Phobia", John Waters' character explains "camp" to Homer.
John: It's camp!
Homer looks blankly
John: The tragically ludicrous, the ludicrously tragic.
Homer: Oh yeah, like when a clown dies.
John: Well sort of, but I mean more like inflatable furniture or Last Supper TV trays....

Waters would have been able to convey the concept better to Homer if he had just said: Moonraker.

An argument can be made that all James Bond films, with their unbelievable getaways (down a steep snowy slope or out of an airplane without a parachute), over-the-top gadgets, and easily seduced women, are camp. But if we are to use Waters' lofty definition, only Moonraker fits the description.

The movie starts out like any other Bond film. In one of the first scenes, Bond and evil henchman extraordinaire Jaws duke it out mid-air. Bond exited the airplane sans parachute and had to borrow one from another evil henchman. Jaws had a parachute but it malfunctioned. It looked like the beginning of any other exciting Bond adventure.

The movie then meanders its way to its destination, Camp Moonraker. A number of landmarks along the way lead the viewers to their ultimate destination. First stop, Venice. More specifically, the gondola hovercraft. We've seen incredulous forms of transport before. An AMC Matador that doubled as a plane. A Lotus Espirit that was also a sub. But a friggin' gondola that moves on land?! That director Lewis Gilbert added to the lame gag with a doctored shot of a pigeon doing a double take upon seeing the hovercraft (think Farley and Sandler's double take in the SNL spoof ad for Schlitz Gay beer, only not funny) left me speechless and shaking my head.

The Bond works have always been known for their attention to detail, especially with the electronic gadgets. In Moonraker, the code for the alarm keypad to a lab coincidentally played the tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. With that, the movie lost all originality and creativity. It became, to me, an overhyped, overbudgeted sham.

This lack of vision continued with the space sequence. If I were a 15 year old Bond fan sitting at the 1979 premier of Moonraker and saw the spacewalk fight scene involving Drax' goons and the U.S. Space Force soldiers with their Star Wars/G.I. Joe-esque laser guns, I would have stormed out of the theater and immediately started a one-man jihad to stop the production of all future Bond films. My fatwa would have declared the movie sad, pathetic, and blasphemous in the eyes of all true believers of Bond.

I started this post with the goal of writing a semi-humorous critique about the campy qualities of Moonraker. Now, near the end of this post, I am irate. This is the worst Bond film ever (and yes, I have seen License to Kill). It is a travesty.


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