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February 12, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8-- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 12, 1997

'Pest'
annoys,
offends
By John Ghose
For the Daily
I wanted "The Pest" to be funny. I
wanted to ignore the moronic com-
mercials, the elitist critics and my
sympathetic friends who forecasted a
pathetic movie. I wanted to go to
Showcase and laugh for a good 82
minutes. I wanted "The Pest" to be
1997's "Ace Ventura."
-Now, I want the last 82 minutes of
m3'y life back. Cleaning up vomit
would have been more fun.
The movie opens with some kind of
pseudo-rock video where Pestario
"Pest" Vargas (John Leguizamo) sings a
catchy hip-hop medley while shower-
ing. The song, "Voodoo Mambo," writ-
ten and performed by Leguizamo him-
self, is a surprisingly clever series of
impersonations. This was a hint that my
friends could have been wrong.
As the film progresses, however,
" The Pest," which
ends with another
version of this RI
iildly amusing
song, consists
mainly of filler
time between the
opening and clos- _
ing tunes - like a
poem painfully stretched into a novel.
The tune, a satirical string of snap-
py ethnic and cultural imitations, sug-
gests a refreshing departure from the
paralyzation of today's politically cor-
rct comedies, and it alludes to
Leguizamo's Broadway productions
"Mambo Mouth" and "Spic-O-
lama," both critically acclaimed one-
man shows.
But once the music stops and
Jgguizamo turns off the water, the
toture begins. The movie flounders
oq as Pest, a con
artist who owes
$50,000 to
Miami's Scottish =:
mob, meets
Gustav Shank
(Jeffrey Jones -
letter known as
Ed Rooney,
Ferris Bueller's
principal).
iShank, a
wealthy German
who likes to hunt
human beings,
tyicks Pest into One of Leguizamo's

Annoying? Who, me?

m
L

becoming his next "specimen" by
offering him a $50,000 "scholarship."
The setting shifts from Miami to
Shank's private island in the Keys,
where the clueless Pest will become
the hunted. Pest
eventually discov-
E V I E W ers the true reason
The Pest for his presence.
With the help of
Gustav's embit-
tered son Himmel
At Showcase ( E d o a r d o
Ballerini), Pest
eventually flees on the family's speed-
boat. The hunt continues on the main-
land, where Pest proceeds to some-
how outsmart Gustav and his hench-
men for the remainder of the movie.
The plot, albeit harebrained, is sur-
prisingly well constructed and (dare I
say) plausible. High schoolish night-
mares of "Lord of the Flies" shot
through my head as Pest dodged bul-
lets in the tropical jungles of Gustav's
island. Unfortunately, only a mere
10-15 minutes are spent in this
intriguing set-
ting, and the
remainder 'of the
movie fails to tap
these fruitful
possibilities.
Obligatory
nice remarks
aside: This movie
is bad. Like "Ace
a, Ventura," "The
Pest's" lead role
calls for gifted
physical comedy,
a genre at which
many faces. Leguizamo fails

miserably. My EECS professor could
make funnier faces than Leguizamo. I
ached to see Jim Carrey's Play-Doh-
ish mug grace the screen, saving me
from the horrifically unfunny faces
and falls at which Leguizamo seems to
excel.
But this idiotic film is not merely a
harmless flick to take the kids to, it is a
movie infested with offensive ethnic,
cultural and religious slurs: blacks,
whites, latinos, Jews, Germans,
Chinese, Scots, homosexuals, epileptics
and even tourette-syndrome sufferers
are mercilessly parodied in
Leguizamo's disguises.
The concept of a movie that
unabashedly lampoons all cultural
groups (Leguizamo pokes fun at his
own Latino heritage plenty) is a
refreshing change - if done well,
with accurate and keen observational
comedy (ABC's pseudo-news show
"Politically Incorrect" for instance).
"The Pest," however, relies on cliche.
I don't understand why the writers
combine the adult humor of ethnicity-
bashing with the very childlike humor
of pulling down pants. It seems that
the filmmakers don't know who their
audience is. Judging from the com-
mercials and subject matter, this
movie is aimed at kids. Then why is
"The Pest" infested with cultural prej-
udices?
Not to sound like Bob Dole too
much, but this kind of stereotypical
trash is truly harmful to impressionable
elementary-age children - probably
the only age group gullible enough to
see this movie.
Put away your seven bucks - that
vomit is calling.

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