Editor’s Note: This week, Brian is busy shoving hotdogs into his mouth to prepare for Comic-Con. We asked how that would help, but he hung up on us, so I’m writing this week’s entry. Enjoy!
Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema. You’re welcome. Our weekly dive into the gluttonous, saturated fat-saturated world of questionable movies has taken a detour into the educational this week, but it won’t be boring like a high school calculus class. It’ll be far worse than that.
Why? Because we’ll be dissecting to death a piece of trash blowing about the graffiti-lined streets of some big city in the 1980s. We’ll rip out its guts, toss its sexual organs under a microscope, but then, yes then, we’ll get to its heart.
And at its heart, we’ll learn the true meaning of dance. Or something. We will lift it up on the highest pedestal possible because Lorenzo Lamas will have taught us what it really means to keep it real.
That’s right. This week’s unhealthy portion is the sweaty, 1984 breakdancing opus known as Body Rock.
What Makes It Bad
To put it mildly, Body Rock makes Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo like like a fine aged brie compared to its cheese levels. Strangely, the only real core mistake they made was in taking a semi-plausable story and shoving Lorenzo Lamas into it like a dead rat into a cheeseburger. A cheeseburger we would have gladly eaten.
To demonstrate, imagine a movie where a plucky young rapper with breakdancing skills starts to gain acclaim and money for his abilities. The result is his internal wrestling with what the money is changing him into and the toll its taking on his friendships. Doesn’t sound too crazy.
Now imagine that Lorenzo Lamas is the plucky rapper.
Now clean up that vomit you just spilled onto the rug.
All good? Excellent.
The biggest problem with this atomically bad casting is that Lamas can’t dance. He’s not just bad, he’s amazingly inept. If you’ve been to a middle school dance, you have more moves than Lamas does in this movie. The result is like watching a scene where a woman is supposed to be so overwhelmingly beautiful that she stops a room cold and makes the hero fall in love with one look…as played by Large Marge. Only, in this case, the scene is the entire movie. To repeat: casting director Annette Benson and director Marcelo Epstein are ultimately to blame for making a movie about a dude who is crazy awesome at dancing and casting a guy who can’t help but look like he’s having a slow motion seizure. Let’s not even mention the rapping.
Beyond mugging on the cardboard, Lamas’ character Chilly D says a ton of stuff that’s meant to be cool, but just flat out isn’t. You don’t get street cred for saying your jacket is big in Europe this season, and you’re not a thug for failing at moon walking. No, TLC doesn’t want your number, and no, they don’t wanna give you theirs.
And why are you talking directly into the camera??
Yeah, Chilly my man, what is happenin’?
The other elements in the movie are too generic to complain about. The dialogue is boring and mostly consists of saying the obvious, but Lamas is where the true magic lies. The man takes even the most heartfelt declaration and turn it into a mouth fart.
Why We Love It
Body Rock is a gift from the movie gods because it cannot be explained. It is so absurd, so thoughtless in its execution, that it stands as a grave marker for all that is wrong with filmmaking in the 1980s. Grand excess in service of nothing, the exploitation of a youthful fad, Lorenzo Lamas. But enough time has passed that this wound of a moving picture has healed, and we can all laugh about how gutsy and unapologetic it is.
In fact, it’s so bad that it must be someone’s experimental art project in audience response. “Marcelo Epstein” has to be, has to be, the alias of Michael Haneke or Jonas Mekas or something.
Lamas is at his most confident here. He has no reason to be, which is why Chilly D becomes a ridiculously fun character to watch. At some points he’s plausibly mentally challenged, and you don’t want to be rude. He’s so bad at dancing, and everyone acts like he’s so good, that it seems for certain that a bucket of blood will end up on his European-cut jacket by the end.
At other points, he’s this great cartoon character, willing to do anything for attention and respect. He’s compelling for the same reason The Situation is compelling. No one actually thinks he’s cool, but watching him pretend to be is just as funny as watching the best Emmett Kelly routine. Lamas is a foolishly un-self-aware clown who exists for pure amusement.
Plus, the film gets bonus points for wantonly ripping off Michael Jackson’s Thriller and paying dues for it by dressing Lamas up as a mummy who claims the stuff that goes down in his ‘hood would scare Dracula.
The only way this movie would have better is if they’d ended it by making Chilly D walk through real gang turf at night and watching him get savagely beaten to death.
Junkfood Pairing: Pop (and Lock) Rocks
We’ve undoubtedly featured these explosive treats before, but other than an entire case of whiskey per person, this is the best thing to enjoy while watching Lamas flail and jerk his way to glory.
Mad Props go to the movie-mad Michael Treveloni who owns this monster on VHS and shared it with me after delighting in the wonder that is the 1980 musical The Apple.