The Fat Boys in their "Disorderlies" shirts

Disorderlies

In Art Can Hurt by Brady Carlson0 Comments

The Fat Boys in their "Disorderlies" shirts

I may be the baddest dude the streets ever produced*, but I just can’t relate to the hip hop heroes of our day. Kanye West is from Georgia and grew up in Illinois; shouldn’t he be named Kanye South, or at least Kanye Midwest? Lil Wayne is apparently leaving the business, and these days Jay-Z is nothing but business – as quoted by Forbes, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” He’s Jay-Z Omnimedia. Hip hop’s answer to Martha Stewart – not to say that Martha is a stranger to the hard knock life herself.

Martha Stewart is Devastatin' Dave the Turntable Slave
ZIP ZAP REYNOLDS WRAP

The only thing I’d keep from today’s stars is Snoop’s ability to change species at will- in fact,  I’d expand it. (50 Cent would be able to exchange himself over borders and become Around a Quarter of a Euro.) Everyone else would drop the tough guy routine and get wacky.

Now I wouldn’t expect a compete overhaul in one fell swoop; I’ve mapped out a transition plan so that over, say, the next six years, Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasies will turn into Zip Zap Rap realities. We’ll start by encouraging the reintroduction of Hammer pants, which is something society should be doing anyway. The obvious next step is to re-release novelty rap’s greatest achievement – the classic film Disorderlies. The trio’s first record is being re-released already (and in little pizza boxes, no less), so it’s the perfect time to recognize this milestone in cinematic history for what it is: the second movie released in 1987 to star Anthony Geary as its fey villain (the other is, of course, Penitentiary III). And that’s not all: Disorderlies also features plenty of food-related hi-jinks, a rap cover version of the Beatles’ “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” and cameos by Helen “I Am Woman” Reddy and Ray “Ghostbusters” Parker Jr.. So let’s delve into this giant in the field of hip hop cinema, in the hopes that someone at Warner Brothers will come across the review and start producing a special edition of the film, served up in DVD-sized pizza boxes, shortly thereafter:

Luis demands Winslow give him the money
Clash of the 80’s Stereotypes!

All orderlies, even Disorderlies, require patients, and the patient in this movie is a wealthy old Palm Beacher called Albert Dennison. He’s played by Ralph Bellamy, who received an honorary Oscar the same year that he starred in this movie – obviously that’s not a coincidence. Albert has a big mansion and a vast fortune, and he’s been drugged into oblivion by his greedy nephew Winslow (Anthony Geary). This is because Winslow gambled away a lot of money he borrowed from his stereotypical 80’s Mexican gangster friend Luis (Marco Rodriguez), and he needs Uncle to kick off so Luis can once again line the pockets of his Don Johnson jacket with cash. Winslow tries to up the ante a little by stepping on Albert’s oxygen tube, but this is foiled by the very sprightly, cheerful and apparently unsuspicious home health care team he’s hired. They’re “too damn good,” Winslow complains to his manservant, Miguel. “What I need are the worst orderlies in the history of nursing care.” Actually, what he needs the $640,000 he owes Luis, but indirectly, he’s correct.

Fat Boys eatin' cake.
The hell with French peasants, let the Fat Boys eat cake.

Good thing Winslow subscribes to USA Today, where he finds a cover story about “USA’s worst nursing home” – the Restful Days Nursing Home in Brooklyn, where orderlies Buffy, Markie and Kool take old people for unauthorized high-speed wheelchair rides. They also regularly sneak into the kitchen and eat all the desserts prepared for the residents – if you pay close attention to the dialogue, you’ll hear the boss chew the trio out for eating 16 chocolate cakes “for the fifth time in a week.” That’s eighty cakes split among three guys. Let’s assume there are 16 slices in each cake, and that each slice is 350 calories – if so, each Fat Boy devoured 149,333 calories in that week. As there are about 3500 calories in a pound, Kool, Buffy and Markie each gained 42 pounds that week in cake alone.

Winslow walks in to Restful Days just as the Fat Boys are being ushered out the door, and he quickly hires them on as Uncle Albert’s new orderlies and flies them down to Florida. (And yes, wackiness does ensue while they’re on the plane, sharing a row with a small grey-haired old woman.) They set the tone on their first day – Markie briefly gets arrested, Buffy gets attacked by Winslow’s dog, Chauncey, and Kool nearly breaks everything he touches. They also manage to drop old Albert into his swimming pool, via the hydraulic wheelchair lift. Then they knock each other in, too. All of this, by the way, takes place at some kind of $1000 a plate society luncheon. And there isn’t even cake.

Ralph Bellamy and the Fat Boys rock the roller rink
If it’s possible to sum up the 1980’s in one picture, this is that picture.

Kool quickly decides the hoity-toity life isn’t for him and demands Buffy and Markie drive him to the bus station. They agree, but they still have to look after Albert so they bring him along. To recap: the Fat Boys and Ralph Bellamy drive around Palm Beach to the strains of Bon Jovi. But as long as they’re out, why not also pick up three girls on a street corner? “This is my friend Cool Al over here,” Buffy tells the ladies. “He’s into drugs.” They go to a roller rink, which convinces Kool to stick around. More importantly, it convinces the heretofore cranky and uncooperative Albert to live it up, especially after the three women wheel him out onto the roller rink floor and dance and hang loose. (The movie even plays a “BOING!” sound effect when Ralph ogles the womens’, uh, boings.) Winslow is all huffy about this when the crew heads back to the mansion; he admonishes the Fat Boys to keep the old man “at home, where he’s safe – and LOVED.” “Step off, homeboy,” Albert tells Winslow. Snap.

Albert teaches the Fat Boys to play polo
The uniforms are orange – I think they’re meant to warn the audience.

But Winslow has no intention of stepping off – he wants to bump off Albert – fast. “Enough is enough,” he says, referring to the subtlety of his murderous methods (and of his acting, for that matter.) And so while Markie is on a date (a sort of undercooked sideplot) and Kool and Buffy peep on the skinny-dipping neighbors, Winslow and Luis send over some hitmen. The old man is defenseless, sitting in his office with his Walkman cranking out some rap – and yet they manage to miss him, partly because they aim like Imperial Stormtroopers and partly because the cops are on the scene, looking for the two peepers reported by the skinny-dipping neighbors. The hitmen duck out and Winslow puts a gun in Kool’s luggage for the cops to find.

Which they do. And so Kool and Buffy head off to jail, framed for a crime they didn’t commit like they were the A-Team. Markie finds a videotape of Winslow ordering the hit and shows it to Albert, but stumbles and the tape falls in the fireplace. (The movie literally goes “wah-wah” over this.) Winslow, Luis and manservant Manuel tie up the remaining good guys and demand Albert open the safe where he keeps all his gold bars and treasury notes. He refuses. Not even for me? Winslow begs. “No!” Albert shouts.

The lead cop tells Kool and Buffy they need to confess or else they’ll be subjected to a “Florida lie detector,” also known as “a 300 pound white man with a baseball bat.” (Markie?) Buffy somehow turns into MacGyver here: he gets hold of the cops’ dry cleaning (?) and pushes the top of a coat hanger under the seat so he can press down on the gas pedal, at least until the police car hits something. The something here is a fancy car with the licence plate “I SUE.” Lawyer jokes, now? As the cops haggle with the lawyer (dude puts on a neck brace as he harangues them), Kool and Buffy put the police car in reverse and drive off. Backwards. Using hangers. In the back of a police car. While handcuffed. I’m frankly surprised NBC has never turned this scene into the premise of a reality show.

Buff Love steals Rick Nielsen's car
Mother told me, yes she told me, I’d meet rappers dressed up as cops like you

Oh, but then things get more logical. That dry cleaning they got hold of somehow includes extra-large police uniforms; they don the police duds and commandeer a passing car, which happens to be driven by Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen. Faced by two Fat Boys-turned-cops with a need for speed, Rick surrenders, but he doesn’t give himself away.

Kool and Buffy make a splash
By the way, this was the original ending to Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou”

Kool and Buffy head back to Dennison Mansion to stop Winslow and his evil friends, who have broken Albert’s safe open and made off with the loot, and have lit a comically long fuse on the dynamite they’re using to blow the place (and its owner) to bits. Officer Buff and Officer Kool grab some guns and shoot up a cuckoo clock; their cover blown, they subdue several henchmen by – what else – sitting on them. Buffy and Kool don’t know how to disarm the explosives, of course, so they do the next best thing – jumping into the pool, knowing that their splashes will put out the fire. This doesn’t actually stop the explosion, but it does delay it long enough for the good guys to get out of its way.

Oh, while all of this going on, Winslow asks Luis to stage an injury, so he can look like he tried to stop the murder. Luis concurs with this plan and shoots Winslow in the butt. Albert and the Fat Boys watch and laugh as the wacky nephew prances about in severe buttal agony.

Officially this is THE END, but then Albert narrates a “where are they now” epilogue. Luis ends up in jail, as does Winslow. As for the Fat Boys? “Kool became a lifeguard… he’s currently training to swim the English Channel.” “Buffy went to medical school; he’s now practicing heart surgery at a hospital in Beverly Hills.” “Markie never returned to school, but he has become a sex therapist, in private practice.” (Aren’t you glad I didn’t go into the subplot now?) Albert married one of the roller rink gals, and they have many children. For fun, Albert and the Fat Boys go on safari every year – “safari,” in this instance, means running into a convenience mart and nearly shooting Beach Boy Bruce Johnston by accident.

Why is Bruce Johnston in a convenience mart? Who knows, but it’s fun. Which could sum up this entire picture – it’s not entirely clear why the world needed a Fat Boys movie, and yet it’s actually kind of enjoyable. The plot is pretty skimpy and predictable, but the Boys are clearly having fun on screen; in fact, Buff Love could have actually been a decent comedy actor with a little more seasoning (and if he hadn’t died in the mid 90’s). Anthony Geary is in fine wacky form, and Ralph Bellamy is a nice classy foil for his uncouth homies. If nothing else, the fact that we can now use the word “homies” in connection with Ralph Bellamy makes Disorderlies worth a viewing. Mildly recommended.

* actually, I am not the baddest dude the streets ever produced.

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