Geena Davis has a reputation as being much more than a pretty face- in addition to a successful acting career, she’s a near-Olympic level archer and a member of Mensa, the society for the best- er, smartest people in the universe. Smart, successful, attractive- yes, our Ms. Davis has done quite well for herself. But then she’s also been in Transylvania 6-5000, which makes me feel a lot better about being dumb, ugly and unaccomplished.
Not that the movie isn’t dumb or ugly. Legend (and the Internet Movie Database) has it that this film was just a way for the Dow Chemical company to use up some dough that was otherwise off-limits, and it has that feel of a project that would’ve been thrown out the window if they hadn’t needed to blow a bunch of money in a hurry. Which is a shame, because it manages to waste the talents of people like Ed Begley Jr., Carol Kane and Michael Richards. It also simultaneously keeps Jeff Goldblum’s film career going, which is an even bigger shame. Maybe the biggest shame.
The company line here is that Goldblum and Begley are tabloid reporters on their way to Transylvania to uncover the Frankenstein legend that doesn’t exist anymore but really secretly does; what this actually means is about seven hundred characters dress in random monster costumes and act zany. This means the cast gets an “A” for effort, but effort’s simply not enough to trump the unfunny lines they’re forced to deliver, one after another. And in embarrassingly bad accents to boot- Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood sounds plausible up against Jeffrey Jones’s “accent.”
And that’s just par for the course- Jeff Goldblum, for example, just rolls his eyes a lot and waits around while Ed Begley’s character does stuff. You’d think he was a bored heroin addict with mobility issues if you didn’t know that was his acting style. And Geena Davis? She wanders around a castle semi-dressed in a revealing vampire costume and tries to make out with Ed Begley every twenty minutes or so. Towards the end of the movie somebody tells her she’s not a vampire, and she’s cool with it. That’s the whole subplot. I think she got into Mensa solely for parlaying this shameful bit part into starring roles in big-budget pictures.
As if it couldn’t get worse, there’s a tacked-on subplot where Goldblum’s ego falls in love with some random woman he meets in Transylvania, and then saves her daughter from the evil monsters being kept in the castle. This leads us straight to the ending, where we learn that the evil mad scientist who’s been hiding monsters in his laboratory is actually a reconstructive surgeon who helps disfigured people lead normal lives! Sorry, folks, the wacky horror spoof you paid for has somehow morphed into a touching episode of Hallmark Family Theater! Please exit toward the rear. Sorry, no lawsuits.
Transylvania 6-5000 is sort of the filmic equivalent of a late 80’s Rod Stewart record- there’s a whole lot of talent there, but you sure ain’t gonna see it. Worth seeing once, but don’t expect too much.