I have a teenage daughter who is starting to look for a part time job. Thing is, she’s pretty much sworn off working in fast food. I can’t say I blame her, I was the same way when I was her age. Today’s movie takes us into the world of speedy food service, but I don’t think it would improve her opinion of working in that industry. It’s a film that features a short appearance by Traci Lords…only her second film appearance after going legit. It’s 1989’s Fast Food.
The film centers on Augie (Clark Brandon) and his buddy Drew (Randal Patrck), a couple of losers who have been living the lives of college party jerks for over six years. They’ve reached the point, however, where the dean has had enough. So now they have to go out and make something of their lives. Augie hits on an idea to team up with their friend Samantha (Tracy Griffith) who runs her grandfather’s old gas station…which is on the verge of collapse. They decide to turn the place into a fast food restaurant. The problem is a guy called Wrangler Bob Bundy (Jim Varney) is anxious to get the service station for himself so he can build one of his fast food joints on the spot.
Wrangler Bob’s threats don’t deter our heroes, however. They all work together to fix up the joint, dubbing it Bob’s Burger Station. Unfortunately that doesn’t magically produce customers. However, good fortune soon comes their way when the gang is hired to provide food for a sorority mixer (because nobody else can do it on such short notice). Before the party, Augie supplements the special sauce with a bit of a formula his brainy pal Calvin (Lanny Horn) has been working on that, basically, makes people horny. Of course, the party goes completely nuts and next thing we know the restaurant has tons of customers. Now, Wrangler Bob is out to discover the secret to the Burger Station’s success. This includes dispatching a spy named Dixie Love (Traci Lords) to get a job at the Station and sabotage it from the inside.
I admit to being a bit of a sucker for movies where a band of misfits come together to take down the “man,” so to speak. There’s not really much to enjoy in Fast Food, though. For one thing, we don’t even really get a very likable batch of misfits. Augie and Drew are a bit hard to root for, because they just come across as a couple of deadbeats. Samantha is a bit better character, and I did like Tracy Griffith in the role. She’s cute and has some good spunk. She’s also kind of moody, though, and a bit too quick to just revert to “Oh Augie…I thought you really cared about me but you’re just like all the other jerk guys!!” That’s not an exact quote, but it’s the spirit that counts. Usually a movie like this also gives us a few more extreme or unusual characters to fill out our group of lovable losers, but all we get is Michael J. Pollard hanging out in the background.
I remember this film being released to theaters briefly in 89 before taking up permanent residence in the Blockbuster Video comedy section. The marketing was pretty much all centered around Jim Varney and Traci Lords. I think Varney was miscast in this one, though. I mean, we’re talking about the guy who does the voice of Slinky Dog in the first two Toy Story movies. I just don’t see him as the villain. Even when he played Ernest, who can certainly be an annoying character, there was still something slightly lovable about him. So making him the baddie is a stretch for me. Ms. Lords, however, is one this film’s few bright spots. Her part is essentially an extended cameo, but she vamps things up in such an exaggerated fashion that it gives a bit of an adrenaline shot to this otherwise listless film. There are a few other well known faces that are peppered throughout the film, as well. Blake Clark, famous from many an Adam Sandler film and who took over for Varney as Slink, appears as Wrangler Bob’s assistant. We also get Kevin McCarthy showing up as a judge and The Boss’ sister, Pamela Springsteen, as one of the sorority girls.
In the end, though, this is one of those films that was good for filling a late night two-hour time slot on the USA Network…but for little else. I often find a certain charm in goofy 80’s comedies, but this one even tested my resolve. This is a movie where the best performance is turned in by the actress who had just gone legit after a career as an under-aged porn star. Take what you will from that.