REVIEW: Head of the Family
– By Sooz Webb
Heads up. There are pun-times ahead.
I have a short form review which reads thus: Insane. I knew that going into this film, and I certainly felt it after viewing. But being economical with words doesn’t fully explain WHY the film is quite so cock-a-hoop. Plus, it kinda makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy it, which couldn’t be further from the truth. So, let’s descend into madness, and try to wrap our heads around Head of the Family. Trust me. You’ll need your head shrunk after this one.
The film opens with a typical suburban scene: nice house, picket fence, yada yada. But the score from Richard Band, hitting it’s wonky notes, let’s us in on the pictures off kilter stance from the get go. We’re introduced to Lance, proprietor of the local diner/grocery store, Howard the town’s resident ruffian and Loretta, his long suffering missus. Fed up of his bad boy antics, Loretta finds solace in the arms of the local shopkeeper, and asks him to hatch a plan to off her thuggish spouse. Unwilling to incriminate himself, or get his hands dirty, Lance enlists the helps of the Stackpooles, a family of unidentical quadruplets who would fit in quite well at Professor Xavier’s X-mansion. There’s the sensitive, slow-witted strong man Otis, Wheeler with his highly attuned senses and Ernestina with her incredibly enhanced *ahem* assets. Leading them all, much like the aforementioned academic, is Myron, a man with a superior intellect and a telepathic control over the rest of his kin. The figurative and literal head of the family. Seriously. He’s a giant head on a tiny body in a wheelchair. Like a motorized Egg-fu. In an impressive use of prosthetics and forced perspective from director Charles Band (under the pseudonym Robert Talbot. For some reason), he really is a sight to behold. He’s also the basis for 99.9% of the movies pun-based jokes. How they came up with quite so many, well, it’s a bit of a head scratcher.
Uncovering nefarious happenings that occur within their abode, Lance blackmails the unit into offing his love rival, and throws in a spot of extortion for good measure. This, of course, does not go down too well with the siblings, who decide to use their combined talents to put the kibosh on the proprietor bleeding them dry. Things finally come to a head *fnarr* with a botched execution disguised as an am-dram presentation of Joan of Arc. Because, why not? It’s one of the few moments in the production that actually DOESN’T defy reason or logic.
Although story driven, in it’s off the wall and bizarre way, the exposition has a tendency to meander at a snail’s pace. Often becoming overly convoluted with nothingness, which allows us time to disengage with the narrative. It’s a shame, as the movie has the makings of a cult classic. For all the mutant families, yokel residents and soft core sensibilities, it’s just not cheesy or campy enough. The scripts often over-reliance on cranium based word-play can, at times, become slightly irksome. Does it do your head in? You tell me. No need to bite my head off.
It’s the strength of performance that really makes this film shine. J.W Perra and Blake Adams, Myron and Lance respectively, work particularly well together, bouncing off each other (not literally) in an attempt to outwit their adversary. Theirs are the scenes which are distinctly pun-tastic, but once you ease into it and meet it head-on, you figure that two heads definitely work better than one. Head and shoulders *chortle* above the rest is Jacqueline Lovell, as manipulative white trash Loretta, who for all her scheming, is the unexpected hero of the piece. Proving that she’s more than talking tits and a muff, her hilarious portrayal as the Maid of Orléans, and her maneuver into a position of power, are satisfying indeed in a world that’s flipped it’s noodle. There are a few guffaws at some of the lines, hidden behind smirks and hands of the cast, but really, that just adds to the movies charm. It’s like we’re all in on one giant lark. Although, what that may be? Well, it’s all a little over my head. *Wink*
Inventive, impressive, enjoyable and slow, are a few words that I know. Conveniently, they all apply to this film. If you can get beyond the fact that there is ONE JOKE throughout its 82 minute run time, and continuous head-puns don’t set your teeth on edge, then Head of the Family is an entertaining spiral down the rabbit hole. However, if you’ve found my constant bonce-based references more than irritating, it might not be the flick for you. But for a bonkers feature about a brainiac in a bumpkin bayou? It hits the nail on the head.