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Review: No exit from 'Welcome to Woop Woop'

Web posted on:
Monday, December 07, 1998 4:05:56 PM EST

From Reviewer Paul Tatara

(CNN) -- I'll listen to any guesses as to what director Stephan Elliot is trying to accomplish with his new movie, "Welcome to Woop Woop." This is a bizarre piece of Outback whimsy that peppers its purposefully garish foolishness with playful shotgun blasts, murder, and systematic kangaroo slaughter.

On the surface, it's just another entry in the "town full of crazies" genre, something on the order of Oliver Stone's recent "U-Turn" or the unspeakable Dan Aykroyd monstrosity "Nothing But Trouble." But "Welcome to Woop Woop"'s vaguely post-apocalyptic Australian point of view also suggests the tedious, non-car chase moments in "The Road Warrior." The results are every bit as awful as the unfortunate title.

Theatrical preview for "Welcome to Woop Woop"

Windows Media: 28k or 56k

You know how a "town full of crazies" movie works. A regular guy (Jonathan Schaech in this case, who's too unbelievably handsome to be considered fully "regular") finds himself trapped in a small community that operates by its own oddball set of rules and regulations. Everybody who lives there is completely nuts, but they somehow don't know it, and our hero can't get away because his car is broken down.

There's usually a powerful man (played by Rod Taylor in "Welcome to Woop Woop") who invents and enforces all the crazy-ass rules, and the regular guy eventually falls for a local woman. This causes a movie to happen.

What caused 'Woop Woop' to happen?

Not always, though. I can't imagine what caused "Welcome to Woop Woop" to happen, outside of the fact that Elliot is also responsible for the surprise 1995 indie hit, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." That one is relatively pointless, too, but at least it features a couple of fun performances and there are tons of outlandish costumes to gape at.

Everybody in "Welcome to Woop Woop" (I'm getting really sick of typing that title), on the other hand, is badly sunburned and wears clothes that look like they were picked up at a Salvation Army explosion. I also noted about 10 different times during the movie when dialogue was being delivered by an actor with a fly crawling on his face. It happens most often to Schaech, which, it seems to me, is no way to treat perfectly good scenery.

As the movie opens, Schaech is a scam artist who's secured a truckload of illegally imported Australian cockatoos. We see him in a Manhattan alleyway, trying to sell one of the birds to Tina Louise. (Go ahead and read those two sentences again, if you like. Let me stress that I was completely sober while I watched this.)

Suddenly, a couple of bad guys show up and start harassing everyone, but a young woman dressed in a cowgirl outfit and a bushy fake-fur coat climbs out of the truck and shoots the troublemakers with a pistol. (Feel free to re-read that one, too.)

The contraband birds all fly away, and Schaech -- who knew the guys the cowgirl shot, and is terrified of them -- takes it on the lam. So he runs all the way to Australia. There, we see him driving across the Outback with a sex-crazed hitchhiker named Angie (Susie Porter) that he's picked up. After the two explore each other at a variety of buck-naked angles, Schaech is knocked unconscious, only to wake up lying in a pigsty in ... Woop Woop. (I'm strongly considering stopping right now so that I can avoid using that phrase again.)

A new type of shotgun wedding

Angie, it turns out, drugged Schaech, and the crazies performed a wedding ceremony while he was out of it. Schaech's been shanghaied because the immensely threatening head of the community, Daddy-O (Taylor), likes to occasionally bring some new blood into the place, to mate with the women.

Daddy-O, because he's movie-wacky, tap dances on the bar at the pub while wearing electric shoes that throw off streams of sparks with each step. He also, if anybody tries to make a break for it by climbing the embankment that surrounds the community, turns klieg lights on them and kills them with a deer rifle. Isn't that funny?

Other funny things about Woop Woop: The kids take potshots at stray dogs, just for the hell of it. Everyone spends their day grinding up kangaroos that are then packed into cans and sold as dog food. (The workers have no problem being completely caked in blood during this process.) There's also an outdoor movie theater where everyone watches an old print of "The Sound of Music," hollering out their favorite lines in unison. One woman farts a lot. There's burping. All that, and basic hygiene is frowned upon, too.

It's a brutal chore to sit through. The violence is too foul to be funny, and the "jokes" are mostly just stupid. Taylor isn't bad at all, but the character is so pointlessly repulsive, it's tough to even watch him. I was certainly rooting for Schaech when he finally took it into his head to escape from this appalling place. I just wish he had attempted to do it about an hour earlier.

I made sure to take a hot shower when I got home.

"Welcome to Woop Woop" is proudly grotesque. There's nudity, both male and female, and a couple of straightforward sex scenes. Just like the rest of the movie, nothing much in those scenes is left to the imagination. Tina Louise's participation makes sense, since the story seems to be set in a bombed-out version of "Gilligan's Island." Rated R. 96 minutes. You tell me how these movies get made.

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