Sunday, June 10, 2012


GORP (Joseph Ruben, 1980)

Gorp, better known as trail mix, contains a little bit of everything to provide an energy boost and maintain it.  The raunchy camp comedy GORP, the last film released by American International Pictures, features almost all of the ingredients in Samuel Z. Arkoff’s formula but is empty in cinematic nutritional value.

GORP transplants ANIMAL HOUSE to a Jewish summer camp that seems incredibly overstaffed, especially with penny-pinching Wallman (David Huddleston) overseeing its operation.  He’s hired enough college men as waiters to the pre-teen campers that he could staff a major city hotel’s ballroom.  Perhaps that’s why he’s constantly seeking ways to reclaim their wages through fines.

The guys have no responsibilities beyond hustling food to the kids at designated mealtimes, so there’s plenty of trouble for them to find at Camp Oskemo.  The senior waiters, who have the advantage of having the military-obsessed and heavily stockpiled Mad Grossman (Dennis Quaid) on their side, plot full-scale battle against the junior waiters.  They gamble with the eccentric kitchen staff, occasionally wander into town to hang out at a biker gang’s bar, and pull pranks on Wallman.

The coeds, who serve as Counselors-in-Training, are the biggest distractions of all. Kavell (Michael Lembeck) and Bergman (Philip Casnoff) compete to be the first to get with the virtuous Vicki (Lisa Shure).  Not that it deters them, but she rejects their advances as definitively as possible.  They also mix it up with the sexually adventurous Evie (Fran Drescher), who may be more than they can handle.  In one of her first movie appearances, Rosanna Arquette shows up as a wealthy girl who angers her parents by falling for a Puerto Rican boy.

The characters in GORP want to stick it to each other in a variety of ways, if you catch my drift, but they reserve the most harmful jabs for Huddleston as a proto-Big Lebowski. Whether it’s getting barnyard animals to soil his bedroom or ruining Parents’ Weekend by putting speed in the food and switching out the evening’s entertainment with a black-and-white stag film, the youth never let The Man forget who’s really running the show.

Directed by Joseph Ruben, GORP is technically competent and energetically paced and performed, which is a nice way of saying this is a bad movie whose faults are ordinary. There’s no plot to speak of, just loosely connected scenes of manic shenanigans. The characters never become desirable audience surrogates.  (In an attempt to win a bet with Evie, who’s tasked to seduce the rabbi, Kavell and Bergman attempt to sedate and rape the fat nurse, although the matter is never characterized in such severe terminology.)  Simply put, nothing about GORP is funny, not the swishy chef’s assistant, requisite food fight, or jokes about pimple-popping and masturbation.  Chances are everything seen here has been done better before, even in duds.

Grade: F

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