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Comedy Movies - O.C. And Stiggs

BUY O.C. And Stiggs (dvd cover)
Neill Barry, Jane Curtin, Jon Cryer, Dennis Hopper,
Daniel Jenkins, Martin Mull, Cynthia Nixson
Directed by Robert Altman
MGM 1987
110 minutes

Robert Altman isn't the first director you would associate with an 80's teen movie, but he is the man who brought us the cult favourite O.C. and Stiggs. Based on characters from National Lampoon Magazine, the comedy O.C. and Stiggs are two Arizona teenagers who are intent on making life miserable for their neighbours, the Schwabs. That's basically it.  As the summer continues, O.C. and Stiggs continue to torment the Schwabs at their daughter's wedding, the opening night of the local theatre group's play, and various other adventures involving lobsters and long distance phone calls.

In classic Altman style, the audience is a voyeur into the world of these teens and their odd obsessions. His usually brilliant wide shots, over-lapping dialogue and star cameos can't save a completely bizarre and horribly written script. The only saving grace in this film (noted to be one of the worst ever made) is the amazing Dennis Hopper. He takes his turn briefly on screen as a character similar to the one he made famous in the classic Apocalypse Now. He can, almost, do no wrong. Other talented actors including Jane Curtin, Martin Mull, Jon Cryer and Cynthia Nixson appear on screen, even though, perhaps, they would now be reluctant to admit it.

Altman comments, in an 8-minute featurette filmed for this comedy DVD release that the movie "Failed quite successfully...It really failed." He speaks about his intentions in initially taking on the project, as a challenge for someone who hates teen movies. Credit must be given, because to him, it seemed like the right reason to do it. There were quarrels between director and writers, and in the end the studio refused to release the movie for three years, not knowing how to market it properly. Isn't that always the excuse?

O.C. and Stiggs is worth a look at if you are a fan of the National Lampoon franchise, or if you're a 14 year old boy. Otherwise, it may be best to skip it, especially if you're an Altman admirer. It will be hard to forgive him.

Meredith Sharpe

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