Scraping the Barrel: #98, ‘Plump Fiction’

Thousands and thousands of films are made every year. And while some of them are destined for Oscar glory and widespread Metacritic acclaim, others wind up scraping the barrel on the IMDB Bottom 100. What makes these films so universally despised? Are they all really that bad? And, seriously, what’s the deal with From Justin to Kelly? We’ll answer all these questions (and hopefully more) with “Scraping the Barrel,” in which we review the ENTIRETY of the bottom 100, in order.

In today’s installment, Ryan Reed takes a closer look (when he’s able to uncover his eyes) at #98, 1997’s Plump Fiction.

Editor Note: We realize the Bottom 100 has changed slightly since we began this series. Our master list was frozen on July 17th.)
Plump Fiction
The Gist: Stolen briefcases, strippers disguised as nuns, obesity humor, a gimp, a pair of tag-team wrestlers, a lot of decent actors slumming for the worst role of their lives.

Those Who Shall Be Held Responsible: Written and directed by Bob Koherr

IMDB Stats: #98, 2.5 rating

The Straight Dirt:

“The person who’s writing — you have to see some of the absurdity of this thing that you’re satirizing (…) I think Bob Koherr, the director, had a lot to say.” — Julie Brown, in the bonus feature interview

“Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.” — Jonathan Swift

Unlike the previous two films (Meatballs 4 and Troll 2) we’ve covered for the Scraping the Barrel series, there’s genuinely nothing enjoyable about Plump Fiction. It’s mean-spirited, sophomoric, and all-around stupid in ways that are genuinely inexcusable and incomprehensible. Does this truly pass for “satire” (as Julie Brown claims in a bonus feature interview)? If so, what the hell is writer/director Bob Koherr satirizing?

As the title makes glaringly obvious, Koherr is attempting to spoof Quentin Tarantino’s loopy, masterful crime-drama Pulp Fiction. But it’s unclear how that goal has been achieved — or why it was attempted in the first place.

The intro narration sets up some kind of attempt at a mission statement, as a gruff-voiced narrator reads a tiring back-story of Tarantino’s smash film:

“In 1994, an irreverent young filmmaker shocked audiences at the Cannes Film Festival with a violent, out-of-sequence new movie that changed the style of motion picture storytelling forever. That film won the coveted Palme D’or, resurrected the career of a former Sweathog, made its director a star, and a handful of people made a (shitload) of money. The success of the movie spawned a new wave of bloody cinema that is currently sweeping the globe. We feel this type of filmmaking is barbaric and irresponsible. We fear these films will trigger more violence in an already brutal society. Now is the time for Hollywood to supply mankind with a more wholesome, nonviolent, life-affirming motion picture.”

Then the narrator is shot and killed. Good one. The “point,” I guess, is that Plump Fiction doesn’t have a purpose. It’s a parody made for no other reason than to capitalize on a popular trend and milk it for a few bucks. The intro also flashes a definition of the term “plump” (as ripped from Roger Ebert’s Thesaurus of Movie Terms): “a fleshy send-up of a lurid original overflowing with shameless imitation and characteristically shot on a rough budget.” There’s nothing wrong with shamelessness, as long as that shamelessness happens to be funny. But Plump Fiction isn’t funny — not for a single second of its soul-sucking run-time.

Plump Fiction

Like Pulp Fiction, Plump boasts a dense, time-jumping narrative — which is a recipe for disaster in a parody film: Ironically, the film is painful to watch (because of its atrocious acting and writing and directing), but also painful to understand. Pulp Fiction‘s time-elastic sequencing was earned by the intoxicating grandeur of its plot; Plump Fiction is both terrible and convoluted — not only do you hate it, you can’t remember it. (Perhaps its shit-amnesia is a blessing in disguise.) At least the Epic Movie guys understand the intellectual aspirations of their target audience.

The film juggles a handful of plot-lines, all of which parody elements of Pulp Fiction (along with bits of Natural Born Killers and Reservoir Dogs). The dim-witted Jimmy Nova (Paul Dinello) is assigned to watch over the randomly obese Mimi Hungry (Julie Brown) while her husband, crime boss Montello Hungry (Robert Costanzo) is out of town. They eat a lot of food, get into an abduction scrape, etc. There’s randomly a shot of rhinos humping and a stomach-ache-inducing rip on Clerks. Elsewhere, tag-team wrestlers Natural Blonde Killers (I’m not even going to keep listing names out of embarrassment for the actors) steal Montello’s suitcase of valuables and, um, make out a lot. There’s also a plot about a group of strippers trying to steal from Montello by posing as nuns. And Oh-my-God-I-can’t-keep-going.

But I digress. After the mind-numbing nonsense subsides, as Mimi and Jimmy make their climactic getaway, I’ve never been happier to see two dimwits drive off into the sunset (along with their nauseating film).

Consensus:

This isn’t so bad it’s good or even so bad it’s watchable. It’s just so, so, so bad.

Should-Be IMDB Score: 0.0

Random Quotes/Thoughts:

Poor, poor Dan Castellaneta (most famous as the voice of Homer on The Simpsons) plays Bumpkin, a highly offensive send-up of Forrest Gump who bumbles around and generally insults the mentally challenged. Classy work, team!

What’s crazy is that Koherr managed to keep working after Plump Fiction, most notably on the Disney Channel (which seems slightly disturbing): Hannah Montana, A.N.T. Farm, The Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place.

“Keep it in your pants, Sundance!”

“If it’s any consolation to you, I just took it up the butt myself.”

“I’ll just have the Woody Allen with an extra pickle.” “I’m sorry, sir — that’s our children’s menu. You have to be under-age to get The Woody.”

“I put on the dresser under your copy of Extra Chromosome Magazine.”

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