Reviewed by Reed Hubbard
Rating: 9.5 Beans
here are certain phrases on a video box cover that should tip you off that the movie within stinks:
"A Troma Team Production."
"This year’s ‘Police Academy!’"
"Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay’s directorial debut."
All these come to mind. Add the words "Starring Tom Arnold" to the list. I have to admit that I toyed with using those three words for my entire review, and if I ever get around to watching "Big Bully" or "The Stupids," I just might, but "Carpool" deserves a little more attention.
Some movies are so bad that you wonder who the people are who invested money in them and thought they would ever see a dime back. That was my question all throughout "Carpool." Actually, my question was "Why?" Why do people make such awful movies? Why was David Paymer cast in a leading role? Why isn’t Tom Arnold flipping burgers in Ottumwa, Iowa? Why did I pay a buck fifty for this?
The ultra-contrived story has Daniel (Paymer) driving the kids to school on the day of his big presentation, so we know he’s not going to make it. After picking up the five kids, he stops by a market where Frank (Arnold) is trying to buy doughnuts. Two guys try to rob the place, and due to some mad-cap hilarity, Frank ends up with the loot and Daniel as a hostage. It turns out Frank was going to rob a bank anyway to save his floundering carnival, so now he’s on the lam with Daniel and the kids. The rest of the movie is one long chase scene in which Frank bonds with the kids and Daniel instructs them (over and over and over) "not to talk to the criminal." The one exception is the inevitable bathroom scene. You put five pre-teens in a movie, one of them is bound to have to pee. In the end, Daniel learns a lesson about the truly important things in life and Frank gets off the hook for armed robbery, kidnapping, and about ten other offenses by the magic of that Hollywood cliché, the charges being dropped.
I can’t help but believe that Tom Arnold writes a lot of his own dialogue, no matter which movie he’s in. His lines are regularly punctuated with "buddy" or "pal," as if he’s saying, "We’re friends, right?" He always comes off like that little chihuahua in the Looney Tunes cartoons who hops around the bulldog saying, "You and me is pals, ain’t we Spike?" He really wants to be liked, but he’s just not that likable. I don’t think I’d like Tom Arnold if I grew up next door to him and he had a pool. I sure don’t like him on film. Worse that that, his delivery is poor and his acting is awful. Paymer is dull, the kids are uninteresting, but Arnold just plain reeks! He forces every joke, every line, so that it’s almost painful to watch. He is so bad that he makes everyone else in the movie look good by comparison. You could stick him in "Manos, the Hands of Fate" and people would say, "That would’ve been a great movie if it weren’t for Tom Arnold."
That can’t be said about "Carpool," though. This movie was terrible from start to finish. I made it through the kid sticking Gummi Bears up his nose and then eating them, but by the time the pistol-packin’ grandma said, "Bite me!" to Frank, I was ready to turn the VCR off, and that was only ten minutes in. If you make it that long, my hat’s off to you.
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