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Monday, 10 September 2018

Retro Review: LadyBugs (1992)

Cast: Rodney Dangerfield, Jackee Harry, Ilene Graff, Jonathan Brandis, Vinessa Shaw
Genre: Sports Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $14.7 million

Plot: To climb the corporate ladder to success, a guy agrees to coach a company's all-girl soccer team with the help of his secret weapon: his fiancee's son

'Problematic Sports Comedy That Often Bugs Me'

Coming courtesy of the director of box office flop, Superman IV, LadyBugs is part- underdog sports film, part- Mrs Doubtfire, even though it preceded that film one year earlier, but the occasional transphobia, unsettlingly misogyny and drag comedy/cross-dressing aspect come across as more awkward here than it is amusing and something I see the funny side towards. Yet besides the transphobia and gender-swapped plotline, sporadically racist and intermittently sexist moments, comedy-wise, LadyBugs fell completely flat with every one-liner, little to no clean slapstick and most of it didn't work, which is coupled with a boring story. 

Salesman Chester is put in charge of the turning around the fortunes of an ailing girls soccer/football team, but he also has another idea up his sleeve: getting his fiancee's son to disguise himself and pass himself off as a girl and to put him in the side. All this whilst trying to land a promotion and eventually marrying his girlfriend. 

Things such as using the changing room, the public toilet weren't as funny as they should have been and almost nothing in the plot made any sense and with characters acting and behaving the way they do without a proper explanation as to why. 

Jim Carrey has cited Rodney Dangerfield as one of his influences, although I'm hoping he is referring to the good side of Dangerfield because the other side of him is polarising and in LadyBugs, it shows, unfortunately. His character Chester is not very pleasant, so much so, some people have coined him, 'Chester the molester'. So yeah, he is a bit of a perv.

Jackee Harry does what she could but the role has her mugging the camera, none of the main characters are likeable for me to root for and the story is way too generic, yet unenthusiastic and unconvincing. The young actress who plays Kimberley, Vinessa Shaw went on to play a hooker in Stanley Kubrick's, Eyes Wide Shut

It's also sudden to see all these questionable aspects in a so-called Pg/G-rated, kid & family friendly affair such as this. The set-ups, whilst they garner no more than chuckles, along with the sexual references & the comedy moments with Matthew transitioning between himself and Martha fail to elicit any amusement from me, as none of the jokes land whatsoever. Some scenes felt uncomfortable, tacky and are deemed inappropriate for younger viewers. 

The part with the son giving his dad a one-to-one pep talk and trying to be sentimental and loving, quite frankly given the issues earlier in the film, it just smacks of cheapness.

Final Verdict: 

Bend It Like Beckham meets Some Like It Hot meets trashy low-brow, hardly feel-good comedy with a paint-by-numbers formula and almost plastic and nothing characters unless you are into the smutty side of Rodney Dangerfield's comedy and a die-hard soccer fan, it's best to give this one a pass - not to the other player, but pass on LadyBugs


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