Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

O.C. and Stiggs


Even the most devoted fans of Robert Altman (and Lee and I count ourselves in that number) admit that this was a mis-fire at best, a total disaster at worst. Hell, even Altman himself admitted that it didn’t work, though he was careful not to blame the actors for the failure. It’s pretty clear that he never should have signed on to this turkey. It’s based on an extended story that appeared in the National Lampoon in 1982. Apparently a whole issue was devoted to it. I was a faithful reader of the ‘Poon, never missed one, read them all cover to cover … and I just don’t recall a thing about it. It involves two suspiciously elderly-looking high school students who today we would call slackers. They have various misadventures around Phoenix, mostly sticking it to an uptight suburban asshole insurance mogul while tooling around in their wonderful old bullet-nosed Studebaker which they had intentionally trashed to become the biggest eyesore on four wheels in the state of Arizona, including tearing off the roof. The Stiggmobile is one of the few real pleasures here.

This movie really isn’t worth much more of my time, though I will mention that Altman is right, the comedy acting is actually pretty good, from people like Dennis Hopper, Melvin Van Peebles, Jane Curtin, Martin Mull, and Paul Dooley. And there is a really great musical interlude featuring a Nigerian named King Sunny Adé and his band that seems to have wandered in there from a totally different movie. Music is often very important in an Altman film, but this sequence is totally disconnected from everything else. Another refugee who found his way into this one is “Hal Phillip Walker,” the crazy politician whose sound truck threaded its way through Altman’s masterpiece, Nashville.