Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam - 4 out of 5

As a child, one of my idols was Jim Varney and, to this day, he still is one of the funniest men I've ever experienced in my life.  Sadly, Jim Varney passed away in 2000 due to cancer but his legacy will live on with the iconic character of Ernest.  We all remember when Ernest spent time behind bars or when he saved Christmas and Halloween and who can forget the summer we went to camp with the man (by the way, did you know Muppet creator Jim Henson has an uncredited appearance in Ernest Goes to Camp?  The things you learn from IMDb.)  But when listing all the great experiences Ernest gave us, one of the best Jim Varney movies is also the most obscure.  Sure Ernest makes a small appearance in the film but Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam is unlike anything you know of the loveable character.  Ya knowwhatimean?

Meet Dr. Otto...I'm going have to try this costume out for some Halloween.

If you ever had the privilege of enjoying the short-lived Saturday morning program Hey Vern, It's Ernest! you might be familiar with the character of Dr. Otto as he made several appearances within the show's run.  If not, well, Dr. Otto is a super-villain character played by Jim Varney that has a third hand growing out of the top of his head.  Well, in Riddle of the Gloom Beam, Dr. Otto got his hands (get it?) on a machine that is able to cripple the world's economy.  Well, it's up to a fumbling and bumbling hero named Lance Sterling (Otto's childhood rival) to put a stop to him.  But since Lance is incapable of doing anything right (a fact most seem to be blind to around him with the exclusion of his partner Doris), can he stop the madman and his legion of sexy female assistance and his voice-activated robot?

Sure Ernest P. Worrell shows up but this isn't an Ernest film.

Varney plays about 75% of the characters in this one...
and that isn't a bad thing.
Unlike most Jim Varney/Ernest films, this one is far darker in its tone and humor.  While many familiar Ernest gags will show up like Varney playing a plethora of characters and even the classic Ernest getting his fingers slammed down upon by a closing object (usually a window) are still here but more adult humor is tossed in and even jokes about suicide are seen.  Growing up a fan of Ernest (I even once dressed as him for Halloween), this movie slithered past me and I only in recent years discovered its existence...and discovered how difficult tracking down a copy of it was.  As an adult, I was able to appreciate the unique and more mature humor that accompanied the childish and innocent actions I grew up knowing in Jim Varney.  With its dark humor and sexual innuendos, I'm kinda glad I didn't see this as a child because I just wouldn't have understood it and wrote it off as a stupid film.  Furthermore, the mockery this movie makes of its hero and how he is an unabashed imbecile would have never been noticed by young Ron.

One of the best things about this film is how the film's hero is a complete idiot and those
around him are too stupid to notice.

Jim Varney and his characters are timeless, in my opinion.  Hell, the film's themes of a global economic crisis are more relevant now then when the film originally came out in 1986.  Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam is a prime example of a dark comedy that never gets too dark and never gets too light either as it showcases Jim Varney as more than just a guy in a denim vest talking to an off-camera character named Vern.

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