Down the Drain

During my senior year of high school, I was allowed to do an “independent study.”  The subject was creative writing…in other words, I was allowed to spend the entire semester writing whatever I wanted.  I spent all that time writing a screenplay.  The story had something to do with a bank robber who has the misfortune of robbing a bank that is already being robbed.  He takes a hot young bank teller as a hostage and the two start to fall for each other.  There were car chases, helicopter chases, and even a musical number.  I haven’t read what I wrote in years, but I’m sure it was pretty bad.  Yet, I am secure in the knowledge that it was infinitely better than the 1990 bank robber comedy “Down the Drain.”

The story concerns a smarmy defence attorney named Victor Scalia (Andrew Stevens).  Victor is known for being able to get crooks out of their sticky situations…thing is, he then uses those crooks to pull jobs for his high-paying clients.  For a job that involves tunneling through the sewer and breaking into a bank vault to lift the safe deposit boxes, he assembles a team of former clients.  Among them are his lover Kathy (Teri Copley), muscle man Jed (John Matuszak), grumpy token black guy Buckley (Ken Foree), Italian stereotype Dino (Nick DeMauro), and French Stewart impersonator Tom (Barry Neikrug).  These guys are to grab every single item, no matter how insignificant, from the deposit boxes.  What the clients are looking for is somewhere in the vault, but they have no idea what the item is.

After pulling the job successfully, Victor finds out that all of his crooks-for-hire have tried to keep a few items for themselves.  He even has to extract some merchandise hidden in Buckley’s…well let’s not go there.  He also has Kathy strip for him to be sure that she isn’t hiding anything.  80’s comedies were notorious for finding any excuse to have the female cast members remove their clothing…but here, Copley clearly lets a body double take over.

When Victor goes to meet the clients, he ends up double crossed.  They are looking for some sort of microfilm thingy…it doesn’t matter what it is.  A chase ensues which ends up with Victor’s car plunging off a cliff in a fireball.  When the news hits, the other members of Victor’s team take it upon themselves to go get the goods for themselves.  They fight with each other in their warehouse hideout, and by the time it’s all done, only Kathy is left alive.

But it turns out that Victor survived the crash.  Now, he and Kathy grab the goods and try to find a way to get the stuff to the police (including a desk sgt. played by Jerry “the Beaver” Mathers) without implicating themselves.  Meanwhile, a couple of bumbling henchmen chase them all around LA.

I usually try to find at least one redeeming quality about the movies I review…but dang if I can’t find one for “Down the Drain.”  Ok, how ‘bout this…it’s a stretch, but it’s all you’re gonna get: the gang’s warehouse hangout houses bits and pieces of old movie billboards.  You know, the ones that appear all over Hollywood.  So…it’s kind of fun to try and figure out what movies those images originally advertised.  That’s far from enough to make a movie worth watching, though.

The film definitely feels like a made-for-tv movie…but peppered with enough four-letter words and nudity to get it on late night Cinemax.  The film is full of improbable “Jump the Shark” type moments.  Both Teri Copley and Andrew Stevens were television staples and their performances here are definitely reminiscent of a cheezy mid 80’s sitcom.

The story: dumb, the acting: terrible, the jokes: not funny!  Now, I’m someone who loves bad movies…they’re fun.  “Down the Drain” isn’t even fun, it’s an ordeal.  Now then, anybody interested in buying my screenplay?

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