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Senseless

Starring Marlon Wayans and David Spade
Screenplay by Greg Erb & Craig Mazin
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
Website: www.dimensionfilms.com/

IN SHORT:  Senseless is what it is. Great if you're a kidlet.

Y'know folks, Cranky is thinking that what he needs is a kid sidekick. Batman's got Robin. Captain America had Bucky (R.I.P). What I need is a Li'l Crankster whose express purpose would be to sit through movies like Senseless, the kind of flick that -- if Cranky were still sitting down with half a keg and a pipe filled with God know's what each and every weekend -- he'd be going nuts over.

Problem is, I've been through 20 years of bodily function gags and they're wearing a bit thin. Senseless is a Jerry Lewis movie without the funny voices. That's a backhanded compliment, I know, but it's the best you're gonna get.

The idea is a good one: Eternally impoverished college student Daryll Witherspoon (Marlon Wayans) has put a name on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is the "Smythe-Bates Junior Analyst Competition," a prize awarded to a collegiate financial egghead after a prolonged competition. It also carries a $60,000 first year salary at a major finance house. The catch is that it isn't enough to be an egghead. You have to do sports and be a part of the "right" fraternity as well. Darryl doesn't have time for that. He's holding four part time jobs to pay the rent and help out mom and her brood of kidlets. So he signs up as a test subject for a new drug that will increase the body's sensitivity (all five of 'em) tenfold or more.

Darryl's main competition is snotnose WASP fratboy Scott, played to stereoscopic perfection by -- who else? -- David Spade. On our guy's side are his pierced head-to-toe roommate Tim (Matthew Lillard), and the potential new love of his life, Janice (Tamara Taylor). In charge of the competition is Randall Tyson (Rip Torn), who has more than a passing personal interest in the outcome of the competition. I ain't telling, but it isn't what you think.

The drug gives Darryl enhanced hearing, sight, smell and all the rest. It makes him a star hockey player, gets him into the right frat and into the competition. It also makes the ladies come a calling and leads to about eleven thousand gags about numbers one and two, ejaculation, lust, and other stuff. Darryl figures that what works well would work better if he ignored instructions and took more. His senses start dropping out, one at a time, which introduces spazz and blindness jokes into the equation. It also brings Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks into the film, which is fine by this native born New Yorker. But, once again, the jokes begin to wear thin.

Except for the jokes about body piercing. Sure, some of them are liberally lifted from an old Chris Farley flick, but they're really funny.

For Cranky, the problem with Senseless is that it shifts from a fairly level and amusing story of a man trying to pull himself up by the bootstraps to a sexist, bodily function gag a minute laff riot wannabe. Cranky has no problem with either of those, but the best sex gag is given away in the television commercial, and I'm just about burned out on the latter. Right at the end, the flick shifts back to the honest guy theme. Cranky says "what you are is what you is". Make a choice and stick with it. Senseless is just amusing to this old fart of a reviewer.

See? I can do bodily function gags too.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Senseless, he would have paid...

$3.00

A great rental, for those of us who remember days of sitting with half a keg and so on and so forth . . .


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