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  Matilda Raging Bullshit
Year: 1978
Director: Daniel Mann
Stars: Elliott Gould, Clive Revill, Harry Guardino, Roy Clark, Karen Carlson, Art Metrano, Lionel Stander, Roberta Collins, Larry Pennell, Gary Morgan, Robert Mitchum, Lenny Montana, Frank Avianca, Joe De Fish, Pat Henry, Matty Jordan, Shepherd Sanders
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Billy Baker (Clive Revill) now runs his own bar, but it was not always that way and he has quite a story to tell you about how he ended up here. He used to be a boxer, and did very well at it, but after a while it was not his career he was looking to promote but that of his faithful companion, a kangaroo named Matilda. He could not find an agent to look after the creature until he happened to telephone the small time Bernie Bonnelli (Elliott Gould) and piqued his interest. Despite his low position on the pecking order, Bernie felt confident that he had a winner on his hands - and he did.

Time was when Matilda was not the name of a serviceable version of a Roald Dahl novel, but a notorious flop from exploitation experts trying to muscle in on the live action Disney children's market. A.I.P. was that studio, and their Matilda was based on a book by Paul Gallico, better known for a more famous disaster movie, The Poseidon Adventure. It was supposed to be a light hearted comedy, but what it turned out be was heavy handed and mirth-free, unless you count the hoots of derision which greet the appearance of the kangaroo.

This is because they did not use an actual animal for the film, as that would have been too dangerous and probably cruel to the beast as well, but instead that old reliable, a man in a suit was utilised. And never was there a less convincing character, as while the suit has ears which waggle and eyes which blink, its altogether fake countenance, never mind the rest of it, makes everyone around it appear completely insane. Does nobody think to say, wait a minute, this is obviously not a real kangaroo and whip off the thing's head revealing the actor underneath?

Well, no they don't, but you will be itching to do so the further this idiocy goes on. The plot sees Matilda, who is a male kangaroo so the reason he has been given a girl's name is a mystery, make his way up from a carnival where people pay to have their heads battered in by him in the hope of winning some cash. The fact that this might be putting not only the punters but the animal in peril does not go unnoticed, and soon Bernie is having to put up with the complaints of a animal welfare officer, Kathleen Smith (Karen Carlson), who is determined to have his act closed down.

As if that were not bad enough, Matilda attracts the attention of a group of gangsters led by Uncle Nono (Harry Guardino) who want to put the act out of action as well, but this time for criminal reasons. You might have thought the kids in the audience, if there were any left after the first ten minutes, would have wanted to see more of the kangaroo, but the script opts to go for the illegal intrigue and promotion worries, along with Bernie's attempts to romance Kathleen which go over the line to become sexual harrassment to modern eyes. Eventually, after being shown across the country in a van, Matilda gets to fight the heavyweight champion, a match which ends bizarrely with Robert Mitchum of all people telling us that mankind must be triumphant against the animal kingdom. To make a horrible mess even worse, there's a blatant ad for a fast food chain halfway through - nothing to do with the rest of the film, simply a way the producers had for raising funds. Worth seeing to disbelieve what you're witnessing someone thought could pass for entertainment. Music by Jerrold Immel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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