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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.67%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad53.33%
Total Crap: 20%

1 review, 9 user ratings

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Fearless Frank
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"They don't make 'em like this anymore--thank heavens"
2 stars

For about five minutes, "Fearless Frank" manages to straddle that fine line between inspired lunacy and absolute disaster. Dopey farmhand Frank (Jon Voight) travels to the big city and presently runs into the lovely damsel Plethora, who's fleeing from notorious ganglord known as the Boss. Promptly blown away by The Boss' minions and left for dead in the gutter, our hero Frank gets a second chance at life when he's reanimated by a mad doctor, who turns him into superdude FEARLESS FRANK. And then the credits come up, a flashy comic book-inspired montage.

So far so good. But then the movie goes to hell.

Fearless Frank is an early effort from director Philip Kaufman, who has since gone on to bigger things (Quills, anyone?), and an even earlier effort from Voight, making his feature film debut here. As near as I can tell, this seems to be an attempt to capture the campy craziness of the old Batman TV show--complete with corny narration and "Biff! Bam! Pow!" optical effects--with perhaps a dash of Dick Tracy thrown in as well. (In fact, co-star Monique van Vooren once popped up on Batman.)

But much of the problem with Fearless Frank is that it's damn near impossible to figure out what director Kaufman is trying to accomplish here. Not since Greaser's Palace have I seen a movie that managed to be so painfully heavy-handed and yet incomprehensible at the same time. If this is a satire, then what on Earth is being satired? Satire, they tell me, must have a point. Preferably be funny, too. But Frank simply lurches around to no particular purpose, its flamboyant eccentricity becoming more tiresome with each scene.

Then there's the plot. Oh my golly, is there a plot. The nonsense storyline almost defies description in its Byzantine convolutions, and I shall not hazard a summary here; but if you've ever seen a fifth-rate theatre group try to do improv, then you have a sense of how incoherently, randomly witless this movie is. They must have made this up as they went along.

I mean, I tried, I really tried to describe the plot in this review; I was gonna do it in the paragraph immediately below. But I couldn't pull it off. Somewhere after the scene where Fearless Frank dukes it out with the cadaverous False Frank (Jon Voight again) atop a rollercoaster, and somewhere before the scene in which Fearless Frank accidentally hurls himself to his death while attempting to fly off a rooftop--somewhere in there I gave up trying to follow it all.

On a technical level, Frank was obviously shot on the cheap, and the film's ugly, washed-out look works against the daffy atmosphere Kaufman is trying to evoke. Voight is reasonably good in his dual roles, neither of which, admittedly, require much in the way of acting chops. It was fun, though, to see legendary tough-guy novelist Nelson Algren ("The Man with the Golden Arm") in a small role as one of the Boss' henchmen.

Like I said, the opener is fun. After that, proceed at your own risk. And if you think you can explain this screwy movie, feel free to drop me a line.

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originally posted: 06/14/01 17:14:28
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User Comments

3/28/16 daryl leckt A 10 year old could have made this movie...when he was 8. 1 stars
1/16/09 Shaun Wallner This movie was stupid! 2 stars
4/07/06 steve chapie it was one of jon voights great films,as a kid i loved it 5 stars
11/15/03 J. R. Gregory I saw this movie on tv when I was very young. It must have made some impression on me beca 2 stars
11/14/02 anonymous GREAT STUFF 5 stars
10/14/02 Roald Haim A rare bird. Anyone not completely deprived of sense of humor will have a great time. 5 stars
3/23/02 Ross Macdonald $0.99 Roxy + Good Weed + Fearless Frank = Ross' Excellent Adventure. What's the point? 1 stars
3/01/02 Pilar Barton Made me laugh - can't forget the song sung by Plethora, "Sometimes It Just Rains Tears"... 5 stars
1/20/02 boaj know where I can get a copy? 1 stars
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