National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers

If I ever make a movie, I’m going to ask the folks at National Lampoon to put their name on it. Apparently, all they require is that your movie be excrementally bad and that you ask politely. I can meet both of those requirements.

Actually, it would be hard to make a movie as bad as “National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers.” You’d almost have to be trying. Even the most incompetent filmmakers, working on a tight budget and without creativity, could, by accident, make something better than this, even if they left the lens cap on.

The film is abrasive and off-putting — which it thinks is the same thing as being “edgy” — from the get-go, as the protagonist, a slacker 20-something named Cal (Will Friedle), describes the low surroundings of his conception and birth in narration. (You know how you can tell a lazy movie? When one of the characters acts as narrator, but only during the first five minutes to give you the backstory, and again at the end to tell you what happened afterward, with no narration in between. That means the film didn’t actually NEED a narrator; the writer was just too dull-witted to give you the set-up and pay-off through dialogue and action.)

Cal and his dim friend Lenny (Chris Owen), both orphans and both shiftless, have failed at everything they’ve tried, and that includes purse-snatching. So they hit on a fresh scheme: Marry two rich old ladies, wait for them to die, and inherit their millions.

The ladies they choose are the spinster Mundt sisters, Betty (Renee Taylor) and Doris (Louise Lasser), heirs to a great fortune due to their father having invented rubber condoms in the 1930s (nearly a century after they were already invented in real life, but oh well). What the boys don’t know is that the Mundts aren’t actually rich: Their money is being held hostage by their insane, war-obsessed Uncle Walt (Rudy De Luca). In fact, the sisters are dirt poor. Their plan is to marry two young gold-diggers, insure them, then kill them and collect the money.

There are the makings of a good dark comedy in all this: Two couples marrying not for love but for money, and each pair secretly wanting the other dead. But this isn’t a good dark comedy. This is more along the lines of a Roadrunner cartoon, with the old women and the young men trying to kill each other by various stupid methods that always backfire. None of it is funny, nor clever, nor acted with any skill for comedy, nor apparently even thought out beforehand.

The major thesis is that old women behaving sexily is funny. This may be true at times, but “Gold Diggers” confuses sexuality with filthiness. It isn’t enough that Betty and Doris are horny; they have to be kinky, too, tying their new husbands to the bed or making them wear costumes during love-making, and doing it all in a manner that feels icky and degrading to watch. It’s embarrassing, not funny.

The film was written and directed by Gary Preisler, upon whom I wish nothing but ill for all the rest of his days, and may they be long and filled with torment. By the 30-minute mark, I was praying for the sweet release of death, or at least a sudden and violent attack of diarrhea, so I’d have an excuse to leave the theater. I had to stay, of course, because I was reviewing it. You are under no such obligation. In fact, you don’t even have to show up in the first place. See that you don’t.

F (1 hr., 25 min.; PG-13, a lot of profanity and vulgarity, some strong sexuality.)