National Lampoon's Gold Diggers

2004, Movie, PG-13, 90 mins

Review

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S GOLD DIGGERS
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Writer-director Gary Preisler's woeful farce, filmed as "Lady Killers" and retitled to avoid confusion with the Coen brothers' remake of THE LADYKILLERS, revolves around the efforts of two lazy, hapless morons, Lenny (Chris Owen) and Cal (Will Friedle, of TV's Boy Meets World), to strike it rich by marrying elderly spinsters Doris Mundt (Louise Lasser) and her lusty, busty, flatulent sister, Betty (Renee Taylor). The lads figure that with any luck the old broads, heiresses to the Mundt family condom fortune, will die soon and leave their young husbands a pile of money and their swinging '60s-style mansion. What they don't realize is that Betty and Doris have been defrauded out of their inheritance by their selfish, WWII-fixated Uncle Walt (Rudy DeLuca), and the sisters intend to ease their financial straits by taking out large insurance policies on their young husbands and then murdering them. And much to the hapless gigolos' dismay, they prove to be in vigorous health; after a month of performing their marital duties, Cal and Lenny decide they'll have to murder their wives rather than waiting for nature to take its course. Various ill-fated murder attempts ensue, with fatal consequences for everyone but the intended victims: poisoned lemonade kills the gardener, a slicked-up shower-stall floor claims the plumber, a deadly venomous snake slithers into the garden next door and another innocent bystander bites the dust. Eventually everyone figures out what everyone else is up to, and agree to join forces and get back the sisters' stolen trusts from Uncle Walt. That plan comes off surprisingly well, considering that after various predictable mishaps the conspirators actually do get Walt's safe open and that the hand grenades scattered atop the stacks of greenbacks never detonate -- a payoff the Lampoon folks apparently forgot to include. Most of the film's purported hilarity is predicated on the sight of Taylor dirty dancing in various skimpy outfits while making lustful faces, though onetime Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman star Lasser is occasionally handed a laugh line like, "I retain water like Hoover Dam." Even by the debased standards of later films released under the National Lampoon banner, this is sorry stuff. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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