OVER THE TOP (1987)

 Because I have humble Midwest roots, I searched for a film this week that was a true representation of what that means.

There’s a lot out there – so I just watched Over the Top instead.

For those of you who don’t know – Over the Top is all about sweaty man trends…like arm wrestling…and trucks…and parental visitation rights.  This movie really is a triple threat (of things that I really know nothing about…)

What you should know is that Sylvester Stallone plays a deadbeat dad who gets stuck with his kid for a weekend despite needing money and a new truck that helps him avoid things like stability and responsibility.

 His ex wife is dying and insists that he spend some time with his kid, which he begrudgingly does, and then makes grunty arguments with the kid’s wealthy grandfather. Grandpa understandably hires people to kidnap the kid.

When you’re learning how to be a father and struggling to build a dream, that usually costs money. Thankfully, there’s a arm wrestling competition – winner gets $100,000 AND a brand new truck.  Its a big enough deal where there’s a hefty prize, but niche enough to ensure truckers flock from everywhere to join.

I’d also like to point out Stallone’s affinity for girl cut scoop neck shirts. Flattering and gives just the right amount of edge.

Over the Top is an experiment in the Stallone Acting Method – behind those eyes, its all seriousness. Even if there’s something lighthearted going on – he’s like an animal watching his prey.  DO NOT GET IN THE WAY OF HIS EMOTING.

Even when he’s making bad parenting choices (like putting your underage son behind the wheel of a large, unwieldy truck), he’s all business under those dark brown eyes.

Here we have the kid’s grandfather as the main villain of our story. According to him, Stallone is an unfit father because he hasn’t been around until now when his ex wife made him, he’s not financially stable and he’s only going to drag him to a arm wrestling tournament.

Solid reasoning so far.

You can also tell his classic ’80s villain – rich white guy, red faced yelling about business in his crisp white shirt. This is a standard if you’re playing 80s Movie Bingo.

Here we have emerging Father of Year, shoving his child into hand to hand combat. Grandpa is so close minded.

Fell the moist Stallone rage. Just staring at you through your soul and your white Brooks Brother shirt. Take that corporate paternal greed!

Lets talk about what’s important, which is the actual arm wrestling competition.

Most of the participants are giant slabs of man pecs on legs. Some of them understand the point of wearing a shirt. Some don’t.

And then some of the guys are just your dad who got super bulked up just for this.

There was this moment where Valvoline got an unexpected product placement opportunity. Note to readers – drinking motor oil will not help you in athletics or really any endeavor that you pursue. This man probably collapsed within minutes of shooting this scene.

“Where’s your Valvoline now?”

Brace yourself for Stallone’s  “Straining for Victory” Face…

Straining….

STRAINING…

Victory!

 And in case this movie wasn’t enough for you to feel good about yourself and your own life decisions, you can always play Over the Top: The Home Game

My hat is now officially on backwards.

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For Your Consideration….Convoy (1978)


Given the proud family heritage of trucking that I have, I figured this be worth a go round.  There’s a lot of truckers and they all have kooky names and I’ll never remember them. What I do remember is that Kris Kristofferson plays one named Rubber Duck and he’s shirtless a lot. The thing is he doesn’t look bad shirtless, therefore making him a unicorn in the trucking world. There’s a lot of insults that goes on between truckers, lots of lingo that quite frankly, I don’t get. 
View this as a cautionary tale should you feel the need to turn your kitschy novelty song into a movie. 
 I leave this movie just as confused as when I entered it.
Before I start, I’d like to offer my sympathies to Burt Ward, who is still waiting for a call from Christopher Nolan…

Joseph Gordon Leavitt knows, to be Robin – USE THE BUTTONS ON YOUR SHIRT, SON.


First of all, this….

(shakes head, rips up film school diploma)
This is our hero. He’s called the Rubber Duck. I don’t know why.

Here’s a girl that he’ll be trading awkward sexual innuedos with for the next two hours.  I don’t know why.

Here’s some of his buddies.  Their conversation is non stop slang and nicknames. I can’t keep up and it was about at this point I realized this movie might not be for me.

Ernest Borgnine is a lonely man who pulls over truckers for speeding and not abiding highway safety laws. Given these positive things and the fact I can understand him, I’m just going to assume he’s the movie’s hero.

For reasons that are not explained and therefore none of our business, Ali McGraw is selling her clothes to some diner waitresses and dodging any questions about Love Story.

This is Widow Woman. Does she have a dead husband? I can figure out the woman part of her nickname, but again, it seems the plot is none of our business. I throw caution to the wind and keep trying.

It seems Hunky Trucker and Diner Waitress are on a break.  This is the 70s, so I know she’s not showing him pictures of the diner’s Bingo night last Tuesday.

She has a birthday present for him. I hope he can return it for store credit.
Probably the most unflattering birthday wrapping ever. And clearly a case of regifting.

Ernest Borgnine, being a longtime and embattled sheriff, comes into the diner, looking for some human conversation and possibly meatloaf.
Back in the cab…

Probably one of the most unerotic sex scenes ever has just wrapped up.
The sheriff enters and it seems someone is sitting in his spot.

Hunky Trucker is not having it. And when I say “It” I have no idea with that means.

No matter, a fight breaks out anyway with people being thrown slow motion over tables. 

There is going to be some nasty reviews on Yelp after this.

In a understated effort to get me to side with highway law enforcement, the truckers damage the Loneliest Sherriff’s car.

I’ve learned this guy’s name is PigPen. He is a hollow shell of a man.

And then this awkward moment happens. I’ve never had my waitress fling run into my newest Saturday night thing, so I have no idea what’s going on in anyone’s mind.

I’ll bet this guy does.

This place reeeeeaaaaaaallly puts you in the mood for a cocktail.

And for no reason, the movie’s self appointed hero runs a jalopy off the road. Just building my mounting hatred for the trucker culture.

Widow Woman takes a curve too sharply and loses her entire load. Woman drivers, amirite?!?!?!

Because she’s a top employee of whatever company she works for, she abandons her truck and whatever it was she was hauling across the country and gets a ride with these two. I’m sure those building materials weren’t going to anyone who REALLY needed it.

Just a reminder, courtesy of Convoy.

Never mind. The Sheriff is a terrible driver and has clearly taken his safety on the road agenda too far.

Hunky Trucker shows mild concern.

Ali McGraw doesn’t have time for the welfare of others. She has to photograph a wedding in Dallas that is clearly not going to happen.

Here’s an equally lonely Sheriff. Him and Ernest Borgnine have found love in a hopeless place. 

“I hate truckers.”
Join the club, pal.
Here’s where the movie spends the longest fifteen minutes having trucks and cars drive in circles with dust. Maybe this is one of those symbolic things that movies do and then I realized nope, its trucks and cars in dirt.

Still happening.

I had to go to the bathroom, did I miss anything?

I hate this movie. This car decided it’d rather commit suicide than take part in it.

Women aren’t into supportive garments.

Everyone’s happy they crossed state lines into New Mexico.  I think this was the first time someone was thrilled that they entered New Mexico.

And a convoy has started. I’m learning that a convoy is just people in large vehicles with absolutely nothing else to do in their life. 

Including this dreamy hippie pastor that drives the Muppets Electric Mayhem bus.
They start their tour of New Mexico but destroying it.

The convoy’s taken over and I feel bad for whatever car has to be behind it. Look, the Hendersons just wanted to get their kids to the basketball state finals and Jimmy really has to pee.

Wait a second, it looks like law enforcement is stepping in. I rubbed my hands together and wonder how Hunky Trucker’s going to get out of this bucket of syrup.

He’s carrying explosives.  Good thing he’s making a moral standpoint that hasn’t been explained to us, instead of wasting time and taking it wherever it needed to go in the first place.
So they’re just going to barrel through that? NO ONE SAW THAT COMING. On a unrelated note, I’d like to let Convoy know that I really hate it.
Seems the news of truckers clogging up highways and limiting supplies to people has gotten around and everyone’s pretty positive about it.
Local news affiliate really wants to know what’s up.  They ask, “Why the convoy?”
I listened in, because finally this movie is going to tell me.
Hunky Trucker: “Trucks gotta move.”
Damn you movie. Stop pretending you know what you’re doing.
Now the mayor’s involved.  They have meetings in his mom’s basement.
Since the convoy can’t roll 24/7, everyone stops in a field and takes communal showers.
SO. MUCH. HAIR.
The Mayor stops by to do a meet and greet. He’s going to Capitol Hill with their problem. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THEIR PROBLEM IS?!?!?!!
In the morning, they do irrepairable damage to the Earth’s ozone layer.
Sheriff Loneliness waits for them in town, hoping for a compromise but instead, truckers take their loads which have been expected in the Midwest for about two days now and completely destroy the town, taking out everyone’s electricity and basic utilities.

Movie, you have a limited amount of time to prove this Sheriff wrong and you’re doing a crappy job.

This janitor who has sided with the convoy is pretty stoked about cleaning everything up.

When they enter another town, Pig Pen has clearly not gotten over the high over apocalyptic destruction.

So he hits an ice cream truck and its driver. Please let the victim start up a convoy of ice cream trucks.

Hunky Driver gets serious…
Kicks Ali out of the truck. Because he’s a man’s man.
Thanks to our nation’s rampant military spending, they have brought in armed forces to deal with this convoy.  Which I’m fine with.
The movie decides to remind us again, that Hunky Shirtless Trucker has been hauling explosives this whole time while its being fired on.

So naturally, this happens…
A funeral is held for Hunky Trucker.  And no one got their loads where they should.

Pleeeeeeeaaaaase let Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem perform Taps. Pleeeeeaaaaaase….
The Mayor says a few words. He’s going to stop this problem, but everyone has to do their part. Again – WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

Ali McGraw seeks solace on the Jesus bus, which we’ve all done during our darker hours, but then she realizes…
Hunky Driver disguised himself as Ernest Hemingway.  You scamp.
Then Lonely Sheriff realizes it too.

He’s fine with it now, making whatever the conflict was in this movie totally worth the man power and state funds it took to resolve it.
“Hey, who wants to go to Mexico?”
Damn you, Convoy. Damn you.