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1991 - MPAA Rating: NR - 75 Mins.
Director: Michael Legge
Producer: Michael Legge
Written By: Michael Legge
Starring: Michael Legge, Phyllis Weaver, James O'Brien, Linda Baxter Hardy, Diane Mela, Jan Negri
Review by: James O'Ehley
There is nothing as sad as a comedy that doesn’t work.

Some of my most frustrating and depressing experiences as a cinemagoer has been with comedies that desperately try to be funny. Even worse are comedies that somehow think they are funny, when they plainly aren’t. Anyone who has seen Steven Spielberg’s “1941” or the more recent “Wild Wild West” will know exactly what I’m talking about . . .

Forget about action movies or horror movies that don’t work out - nothing is as painful as the failed comedy!

Keeping this in mind, sitting through Loons was akin to root canal work. I just felt so embarrassed for the people on-screen that I wanted to hide my head in my hands in shame. ‘This . . . just . . . isn’t . . . funny,’ I intoned mindlessly.

If you haven’t heard of “Loons” yet, then you are not to blame. It is a more indie than indie movie that is available only on DVD and probably never had a theatrical run. Can you rent it at your local Blockbusters? It is doubtful. You can order it over the Internet via Sub Rosa Studios at their web site. Amazon might even stock it – I don’t know.

Should you buy it? Not unless you know anyone who worked on it. This is pure DIY film-making, employing hand-held video cameras and probably community theater actors.

Now don’t get me wrong: shoddy production values have never really stood in the way of having a good time at the cinemas, or in this case, in front of your TV. But “Loons” isn’t one of those times unfortunately.

Just the plot synopsis will let you know in what desperate trouble this movie is: Jeff Coukos (as in cuckoos - geddit?) is an ordinary young guy who one day brings his fiancée home to his mother. This unfortunately isn’t on and not just for the usual oedipal reasons. See, his mother tells him, his entire family line (or at least just the men) is under a curse: they all go insane eventually. Thus it is better for Jeff not to propagate and thus perpetuate the curse.

As an early sequence informs us, an ancestor of Jeff’s named Loons (geddit?) presided as judge over the trial of a suspected witch in Puritan New England 400 years ago. Or delete the ‘suspected’ bit: she was a witch and, as she was being burned at the stake, she cursed Loons’ entire ancestry line. Jeff’s dad was cuckoos and, well, so is his older brother.

Jeff’s older brother had actually been born insane (he thinks he is a marionette). Later on, Jeff’s brother turns, well, sane – because in his case the witch’s curse worked in reverse for the obvious reasons. In contrast, Jeff starts seeing clowns everywhere as the curse kicks in in his case.

Somehow his brother manages in resurrecting the said witch and all kinds of hilarity ensue.

Or rather doesn’t.

As anyone knows any movie in which the characters have funny names just spells trouble.

To be honest, on paper I’m sure that “Loons” must have sounded better than it eventually came out on screen. (I’m reminded of a story that George Lucas wasn’t interested in doing a big screen version of Douglas Adams’ hilariously funny “Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” books because he thought they were too ‘verbal’ and wouldn’t translate well to the big screen. I agree on this.)

Some of the one-liners have an early Woody Allen feeling to them and I’m sure that reading any novelization of “Loons” would at least result in a few amiable chuckles – especially after some of the more sophomore aspects have been left out.

However, as a no-budget amateur movie “Loons” just never stood any chance . . .

(By the way, “Loons” is distributed with another full-length feature “Cutthroats” – made by the same creative team - as a DVD double bill. “Cutthroats”, which is actually better, is reviewed elsewhere on this site.)
Movie Guru Rating
Unwatchable.  One of the worst of the year.  Skip it.
  0.5 out of 5 stars

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