It's no secret that low expectations can help a movie. You go in expecting crap, get served crap with powdered sugar, and think, "Wow, powdered sugar!"
No such problem here. Nothing resembling powdered sugar was sprinkled anywhere near "National Lampoon's Gold Diggers."
Two 20-year-old losers, Cal (Will Friedle) and Lenny (Chris Owen), unable to stand the boredom of minimum-wage jobs, turn to crime. A purse-snatching escapade fails when they snatch a victim's prosthetic arm along with her purse. Next they try armed robbery — dressed inexplicably as a rabbi and a nun — but two elderly women named Doris (Louise Lasser) and Betty (Renee Taylor) mace them back to jail.
These two women live in a grand Hollywood house but have no money; so, after dropping the charges, they scheme to marry the young robbers and kill them for the insurance. The young men, meanwhile, after seeing the house, decide to marry the old broads and kill them for their imagined fortune.
Writer-producer-director Gary Preisler says he found the idea of 20-year-old boys with 70-year-old women "ripe with comedic possibilities," according to the press kit. Among these possibilities? That elderly women snore, fart and have perverse sexual desires. Doris dresses like Shirley Temple, Betty like Mae West in "Myra Breckenridge." The women read "The Dimwits Guide to Murder," and innocent bystanders are accidentally killed.
Lasser, the star of the '70s television show "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," manages a laugh or two, but most of the movie is astoundingly unfunny and off-key. One joke attempt after another simply clunks to the ground. When I wasn't cringing, I was disgusted. I wasn't the only one. The free preview screening was only a quarter filled, and a quarter of that sparse crowd left before it was over.
The ads focus on former Playboy playmate Nikki Ziering as dream girl Charlene, but she's barely in it. Don't be fooled. Don't waste your money. Please. Spare our culture some last semblance of dignity by ignoring "National Lampoon's Gold Diggers" altogether.
Erik Lundegaard: firstname.lastname@example.org