‘Hey guys, I found a bangerine tree.’
A group of four friends are forced to spend the night in a remote, isolated spot after escaping from a gang of thugs. During the dark hours, a UFO lands nearby, and the occupant asks the quartet for help in his fight against a tyrannical galactic overlord. Initially reluctant, they are persuaded when the alien prince offers them each their weight in gold…
Os Trapalhões were a four man Brazilian comedy group, whose name could most closely be translated as ‘The Bumbling Ones’ but was generally given as ‘The Tramps’ in the English language. They had a hit TV show that ran from the 1970s to 1993 in their native land, episodes apparently consisting of short sketches showcasing the kind of physical humour practiced by The Three Stooges. When ‘Star Wars’ (1977) became an instant, global phenomenon, it was an obvious target for parody and, by this point, the group already had four movies under their belts, including a comedy version of ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968).
The ﬁlm begins with a wacky five-minute carchase. It’s not the perfect way to introduce our heroic quartet, but it will have to do. There’s Renato Argao (the leader), Dede Santana (second-in- command), Mussum (a black man), and Zacarias (who wears a bad wig and speaks like a baby). That’s about as much character development as you get. The chase features repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down, all accompanied by lots of wacky noises on the soundtrack.
Hiding out in the woods, our zany quartet meet handsome alien Prince Flick (Pedro Aguinaga) who dresses like Luke Skywalker but gives off more of a Han Solo vibe, especially given his sidekick Bonzo; an incredibly tall man who wears a dog mask and speaks backwards. Aguinaga needs some help with defeating evil overlord Zuco (Carlos Kurt) who wears a costume and helmet that would get any self-respecting 20th Century Fox executive reaching for the nearest lawsuit. The dastardly villain has kidnapped the Princess Myrna (Maria Cristina Nunes) and is demanding that Aguinaga hand over half of this electronic brain gizmo so that he can rule the galaxy (or something). The Tramps spring heroically into action, especially when Aguinaga promises them fabulous riches in return.
Making landfall on Aguinaga’s homeworld (some sand dunes that looks a bit like Tatooine), our heroes are immediately ambushed by some creatures that look a bit like Jawas. The resulting fight features lots of repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down. During one of the slowed down moments, we can clearly see that one of the aliens is wearing training shoes. Everything is accompanied by lots of wacky noises and disco music. The sequence last more than five minutes.
Afterwards our conquering heroes pair up with four alien space babes, who seem under the strange impression that these four middle-aged losers are kings from another planet. Naturally, it’s straight off to the nearest nightclub (not a cantina), where Aguinaga interrogates some guy in a back room and The Tramps commandeer the jukebox so they can throw some crucial shapes on the dancefloor with their new girlfriends. Yes, we get a full, unbroken three minutes of them grooving to some inane disco number with various extras standing around in joke-shop alien masks. But these extra-terrestrials don’t like disco (boooo!) and another fight breaks out. It features lots of repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down. All accompanied by lots of wacky noises. Who’d have thought it?
Eventually, we get the big face-off between good and evil, i.e. the Tramps, Aguinaga, his dog faced buddy and the space babes vs. Kurt and his massive horde of about ten people. The inevitable fight breaks out. It features lots of repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down. And it’s accompanied by lots of wacky noises and disco music!
Argao got hold of a freeze ray in the nightclub car park earlier, and he uses it every 30 seconds or so when one of the good guys is in trouble and we need another hysterical gag. Also it gives him the chance to kick big bad Kurt in the butt. Over and over again. Every time he does, there’s a hilarious ’boing’ noise on the soundtrack. This sequence goes on for ten whole minutes! My friends, it’s a riot. I had to have surgery afterwards because my sides had split.
Hideously shot on videotape, this no budget monstrosity was apparently aimed at small children, even if some of the ‘jokes’ seem a little adult from time to time. Obviously, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but there’s really nothing that can excuse such a travesty of the cinematic art. Can it even be classed as a feature film? lt’s more like a series of amateurish, improvised skits held together by the barest whisper of ﬁlmmaking technique and SFX that look like they’ve been cobbled together on a workbench in someone’s back room. Individual scenes are padded to beyond ridiculous length; often featuring little spoken dialogue, static visuals and backdrops so crude they seem to have been designed with the sole purpose of making your eyes bleed.
It’s excruciating. Still, it is better than the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ I suppose.