The early to mid-1980s was awash in farcical, lowball comedic fare designed chiefly to deliver bared breasts to a keyed-up young male demographic, particularly after the smash success of 1982’s Porky’s, and two more putative classics of this sub-genre — full of hot, teased-haired, scantily clad chicks playing cardboard-thin characters — hit DVD for the first time ever this week, in the form of a two-fer release from distributor Anchor Bay.
Co-writer-director Mark Griffiths’ Hardbodies, from 1984, is a quintessential bikini bimbo flick. Its beach-set credits — including a sequence in which girls play keep-away with the bathing suit top of one of their friends — unfold under a goofy pop tune that talks about “caressing the places unknown,” and before long we’re enjoying boobs (and just a glimpse of wang, if you want to go DVD slow-mo) during a post-coital embrace. For God’s sake, the movie even briefly features a biker gang called the Gonads! Apart from the bathing suits, all the costumes on the ladies look like they were nicked from the set of the music video shoot for Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical,”and the acting is certainly sometimes… oh, let’s say demonstrative. But Hardbodies‘ dialogue has a bit of unexpected snap, and it’s all executed with the sunny aplomb of a puppy golden retriever bounding thoughtlessly into the ocean after a Frisbee. This is a movie with streamlined purpose and clarity of vision, and it hits all its beats with charm and even some slickness, including a conversation in which girls (standing in front of a mirror, naturally) wonder why guys are so fascinated with boobs.
The story follows three middle-aged, fuddy-duddy single guys (Gary Wood, Sorrells Pickard and Michael Rapport) who rent a beach house as part of a vacation scheme to recapture their youth, then find themselves striking out with all the ladies. So they hire Scotty (Grant Cramer), a young stud in need of some cash for rent, to teach them how to score with the local beauties. Scotty drafts his goofball ginger pal Rag (Courtney Gains) to help him with his scheme, which eventually turns off Scotty’s most recent one-night conquest turned girlfriend, Kristi (Teal Roberts), since, you know, these three guys are so much more degrading toward women. No matter. Scotty rallies and wins Kristi back over, and even Rag finally gets some ass, courtesy of Kristi’s pal Kimberly (Cindy Silver). Further lending support are Darcy DeMoss (Reform School Girls), ’80s band Vixen and probably hundreds of Southern California’s hottest swimsuit models.
The 1986 follow-up to Hardbodies, on the other hand, is a dreadful misfire that seems hamstrung from the very start. Griffiths is back as director, but tries to use a film-within-a-film framing device that’s ill conceived to begin with and even more poorly executed than it is thought out. The characters of Scotty and Rags return, but they’re portrayed by different actors (Brad Zutaut and Sam Temples, respectively, the former letting his eyebrows and Flock-of-Seagulls-‘do do most of the acting). For no reason at all, they’re now successful actors (fatally undermining the boneheaded-kids-make-good vibe of the first flick), heading to Greece to shoot a teen comedy in which they smoke weed and get into various hijinks. To make matters worse, Griffiths brings back two supporting characters from the first film (the aforementioned Pickard and Roberta Collins), which only further underscores everything that’s jarring and problematic about this narrative choice. Once things get rolling, Scotty finds himself in a pinch, caught between his money-grubbing fiancee Morgan (Brenda Bakke, above left) and new gal Cleo (Fabiana Udenio), an acting neophyte drafted to play Scotty’s leading lady. Hmmm… I wonder who he’ll choose. In short, while nothing about Hardbodies 2 works as well as its predecessor, kudos at least go out to cinematographer Tom Richmond (who shot both movies, actually), for making both the locations and ladies look good.
Housed in a regular, white plastic Amaray case, the Hardbodies Collection comes to DVD with no supplemental extras, alas, which really dings its purchase value. The films themselves are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with English mono audio tracks and optional subtitles. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B/D (Movies, respectively) D (Disc)