[box cover]

O.C. and Stiggs

Director Robert Altman will always be hit or miss. It's simply the nature of his filmmaking alchemy — he often throws thing at the screen to see what'll stick. Sometimes he crafts a masterpiece (Nashville, M.A.S.H.), other times he seems at a complete loss (Popeye). And like many of the great filmmakers who emerged from the 1970s, the following decade was not kind to him — there was something about the Reagan years that drained Hollywood's most creative forces. O.C. and Stiggs is a misfire, so much so that it sat around on the shelf for three years, only to be dumped on theaters in 1987. The film follows Oliver Cromwell Ogilive (Daniel Jenkins) and Mark Stiggs (Neill Barry), who get the most pleasure in life from torturing the Schwab family. Father Randall Schwab (Paul Dooley) is a rich insurance agent who lives nearby with his alcoholic wife (Jane Curtin) and kids, and O.C. and Stiggs often steal food off his grill and tap into his phone line to call Africa. They do so because of some past transgression that's never fully explained. They also run into a collection of weirdos like Wino Bob (Melvin Van Peebles), Vietnam vet Sponson (Dennis Hopper, doing an obvious parody of his work in Apocalypse Now), dress manufacturer Pat Coletti (Martin Mull), and O.C.'s grandpa (Ray Walston), who loves telling grotesques stories of his days on the police force. There's not much of a narrative (the film's main concern is O.C. getting enough money to get his grandpa into a home), and the characters are mostly boobs or jerks. Thus, the movie plays to the worst aspects of Altman's sensibilities — it features caricatures more than characters. Nonetheless, it's too unfocused to be entirely horrible, and O.C. and Stiggs is just too stoned to ever be offensive. A collection of scenes that manages to be watchable without being engaging, its better qualities can be credited to the talented people (including future TV stars Jon Cryer and Cynthia Nixon) who stand around in it. Sony/MGM presents the film in a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer (non-anamorphic) with Dolby 2.0 Stereo audio. The transfer of the film is terrible, and the images are fuzzy and poorly mastered throughout. Extras include "Robert Altman on O.C. and Stiggs" (8 min.), in which Altman speaks fondly of the film and the talents involved. Bonus trailers, keep-case.
—DSH



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