Simon Sez

(Reviewed in 2002.)

I have two vivid memories of “Simon Sez.” One of them is that I watched it on New Year’s Eve 1999, just before Y2K. You’d think that on the night of the biggest party in history, I’d have something better to do than watch a crappy should-have-been-straight-to-video film starring one of my least favorite celebrities. Yet there I sat, watching Dennis Rodman’s “Simon Sez” before going out into the night to revel and celebrate and watch the world end.

My other memory of the film is a moment in which an enormously fat man played by John Pinette (the behemoth from the final episode of “Seinfeld”) is dangling from a bridge. In the long shots, though, it’s clearly a less-fat stuntman dangling there. I mean, the guy is probably 200 pounds lighter than the guy he’s supposed to be. Now, I understand the difficulty in finding a stuntman fat enough to successfully impersonate John Pinette. If I were the director of this film, therefore, I would have a) not cast a man as fat as John Pinette in the first place, or b) avoided sending John Pinette’s character over a bridge, and have one of the less girthful characters do it instead.

But if I were the director of this film (Kevin Elders), surely I would have more important issues to deal with anyway. For example: What the hell is wrong with me? What am I thinking? Do I really think a movie starring Dennis Rodman is a good idea? Have I actually READ this script? What, am I insane?

“Simon Sez” is about a secret agent named Simon (Dennis Rodman) who has to rescue the daughter of an American tycoon from kidnappers. Along the way, he has to kickbox Emma Sjoberg, who is a hottie. Unable to speak very coherently, as part of his NBA contract, Rodman is restricted to brief lines of dialogue, yet even those are stupid; one can only imagine how much dumber they’d have been in they were complex and used difficult tenses. John Pinette and someone else play his two bumbling sidekicks, and it seems like there’s a computer hacker somewhere, too, who no doubt also has droll things to say.

It’s a reasonably enjoyable movie, though not for the reasons intended. It was supposed to be a cool action flick with a lot of comic relief, but what it actually is, is a paean to incompetence made amusing by watching it with friends who recognize a bad movie when they see one. Even the dim-bulbs who help crap like “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” make money because they think “cool action” means “good movie” are unlikely to be fooled by “Simon Sez.” If you must watch it — and I shudder to imagine the circumstances under which one must — watch it in a light mood, perhaps under the influence of something, and with people who can help you mock it. A spaceman and two wise-cracking robots would do the trick nicely.

D (1 hr., 25 min.; PG-13.)