14 January 2003 | Oskado
The Bimbos - A Short-Sheeted Slapstick Comedy
Bimbos is a work of slapstick theater. In contrast, I consider its derivative, Thelma and Louise, a work of junk Americana - to me perhaps all the more junky since I live in that film's playground. But back to our Bimbos. Early in this work, three surfer-boy characters perform a brief Three Stooges parody as though to set tone and genre. Unfortunately, the film falls short of developing that tone as a well-balanced work. If I compare Bimbos to works of the Marx Brothers (together with their faults of excess) or to films such as My Man Godfrey, or to full-length films by Charlie Chaplin, I conclude the following:
First, at least to please me, slapstick comedy must present a mix of `high' and `low' tones. The Marx Brothers interject high tone through music performances, through inclusion of high-class and rational characters - wealthy spinsters, etc. - and through a structure that permits each of the brothers a solo performance, whether on harp, piano or (more questionably) one-on-one clever dialogue. Godfrey employs a languishing piano virtuoso - Carlos, the family protogé - as essentially a clown who actually performs romantic music. The role of art is to entertain and to uplift - `elevare et delectare'.
Drama requires contrasting characters - i.e., texture. The Three Bimbos were not enhanced dramatically by joining forces with three more bimbos - the surfers - and things only became blander as policemen, café crowds, etc., all turn out to be just as `bimbo' as our heroines. Our girls needed to stand out as unique, to contrast against society - e.g., perhaps to fall in with higher-tone `road' figures, like a Woody Guthrie group. We could have watched the three bimbos' tails wagging as they picked melons with the Mexican `temporarios' in the farms along the Colorado, we could have shared the enchantment of fireside music and dance under a huge Arizona sunset. The movie could have ended with our three bimbos waddling off into the sunset like Charlie Chaplin and his sweet sidekick in Modern Times.
The film needed to introduce nostalgic elements to give the humor a bittersweet texture. National Lampoon's Animal House achieves nostalgic counterbalance through enacting slapstick absurdities that recall deep sentimental memories to the minds of many a typical old-college grad - i.e., within each slapstick act hides a kernel of emotionally rooted truth.
Last, our three actresses were not used in either a complementary or complimentary way - indeed, the least charismatic of the three is given the opening scene and the most exposure. Kaitan's minuscule strip at the foot of a scraggly joshua tree only seems a desperate attempt - perhaps an improv, like the three surfers' quick Stooges routine - to inject some shred of life into the work. But the wreckage was too great for Kaitan to save - not even Superman could have done that alone - and Tammara Souza, the third bimbo, isn't even given a chance. Yes, I prefer the Bimbos to T & L, though that isn't saying much. I still respect Susan Sarandon, but far too much as an after-effect of her performance many years ago in the television film, The Last of the Belles - for which I've forgiven many an indiscretion ever since - but not all. For me, her time has come and gone - however much I commiserate with that universal need to make a living. If T & L merits a 7-rating, the Bimbos merit a 9. But that's impossible. I would rate T & L at 2 and our sorry bimbos at three and a half. What a shame - because for so little additional investment in time and money, this film could have been so much better. I guess the real bimbos were the director and producer?