Like many people in the early 80’s, I first came to know of this actor named Tom Hanks from his role on the short-lived sitcom Bosom Buddies. He co-starred with Peter Scolari as a couple of advertising guys who pose as women to get cheap rent at a women only apartment building. The show only ran for two seasons, from 1980-82. By 84, however, both of the show’s stars were about to have much greater success. Hanks would star in one of the year’s biggest films, Splash, and start his journey toward becoming Hollywood royalty. Scolari was beginning his long run on the series Newhart. But that same year, each would also appear in a sex comedy that they probably would not have done just a few months later. Hanks’ was the hit Bachelor Party, but Scolari’s was this bargain basement production – The Rosebud Beach Hotel.
Scolari plays Elliot Garner, a bit of a dweeb who is engaged to wealthy heiress Tracy King (Colleen Camp). Elliot is desperate for an attempt to prove himself to Tracy’s powerful father (Christopher Lee). Dear old dad decides to give Elliot the task of managing a hotel he owns in Miami. Of course, Mr. King has no expectation that Elliot will be successful. In fact, he hires a guy to torch the place so he can collect on the insurance.
Elliot and Tracy both head down to Florida to take over the hotel. To start, they meet the bizarre cast of characters who work and live at the hotel. There are a couple of maids who want to sing in a rock band (Marie Curie and Cherie Curie – Cherie formerly of The Runaways), two somewhat creepy bellboys (including Jonathan Schmock who played the snooty maitre-de in Ferris Bueller), two old ladies who sell pot out of the hotel flower shop, and a resident who believes he is a tourist from another planet (Eddie Deezen).
The hotel is the pits and Elliot is certainly not up to the task of managing it However, Tracy has a bit more business sense. One night she notices a hooker named Linda (Fran Drescher) who frequents the hotel checking in with a customer. Tracy hits upon the idea of having Linda work as a bellhop, whatever else she chooses to do with the guests after delivering their bags is up to her. Linda not only takes the job but brings a bunch of her colleagues along with. What do you know…the hotel starts to prosper. There is trouble, however, when it looks like one of the new staff (Monique Gabrielle) seems to be getting a bit too friendly with Elliot. Oh, and there’s still an arsonist lurking about trying to blow the place up.
Even as cheaply made 80’s sex comedies go, The Rosebud Beach Hotel is quite pitiful. It is interesting that many of the cast members would go on to bigger successes – Scolari with Newhart, Drescher with The Nanny, and Colleen Camp in films like Clue, Police Academy 2, and Wayne’s World. The film definitely depends on the assemblage of wacky characters concept, not unlike Police Academy did this same year. However, as goofy as Police Academy can be, at least it takes time to establish its crazy characters and allows them to contribute to the proceedings. Here the characters are given very little opportunity stand out. The one who does distinguish himself is Eddie Deezen, which is to be expected. Even when he’s in movies that are less-than-stellar, Deezen manages to be a joy to watch. One sequence that I did find quite funny is where Deezen describes his planet’s equivalent of The Three Stooges, which is a bit gorier than ours. Knowing that Deezen himself is quite a fan of the Stooges, the enthusiasm he puts into his descriptions is quite genuine.
Sadly, Deezen ends up being one of the film’s few bright spots. On a whole the film is sloppily made. The camera angles are haphazard at best, the lighting amateurish, and, perhaps worst of all, Christopher Lee is completely wasted. Seriously, how can you have a film where you snagged Christopher Lee as your villain and have him spend most of the movie talking on the telephone? The Rosebud Beach Hotel is definitely not a career highpoint for Peter Scolari, but I’m sure the Emmy nominations he received in the years to come helped block this from his memory.