It’s still a drag, but Matty reckons Nico Mastorakis’ zany Billy Wilder riff is funnier than a lot of the Greek auteur’s other so-called comedies.
For a filmmaker whose horror and thriller pictures bubble with a great sense of humour, it’s perverse how painfully unfunny Nico Mastorakis’ actual comedies are. Despite their action licks, Sky High (1985) and Terminal Exposure (1987) are played strictly for laughs and are as amusing as a house fire on Christmas Day, while watching a loved one succumb to a terrible disease would be better than ever suffering through Ninja Academy (1989) or Glitch! (1988) again. Nevertheless, these reprehensible stinkers were all financially successful. Glitch! in particular made Mastorakis a nice wad of cash — so much so that the Omega Pictures boss briefly considered sequelising it. Mercifully, we were spared the further adventures of Glitch!’s awful, party-loving anti-heroes, T.C. and Bo. However, the scenario Mastorakis concocted did mutate into THE NAKED TRUTH — and in a further act of mercy, both the film and the new pair of doofuses at its centre are infinitely more likeable than their predecessors.
Now, to be clear, The Naked Truth is still a struggle. Irrespective of Mastorakis’ usual strong tech credentials, the main problem is that the Greek maven just isn’t a good director of comedy. He has no idea how to capture the sort of Looney Tunes-y hijinks that clearly tickle him, and, as with almost every Mastorakis picture, The Naked Truth is ten minutes too long. It would have benefitted from some judicious pruning in several overly sluggish scenes that sit at odds with the frantic pace the helmer strives for. That said, Mastorakis and co-scripter Kirk Ellis sport a nice line in vaguely ZAZ-esque silliness, and their scattergun approach produces more guffaws across The Naked Truth’s bloated run time than Glitch! et al combined. Yes, the film hits as much as it misses — and it’s important to keep in mind that if you throw enough spaghetti at a wall you’re bound to end up with an edible, if poorly presented, dish eventually. But a 50% strike rate for a Mastorakis comedy is positively grandiose, even if the bulk of the gags rest upon such tired tropes as crossdressing, homophobia, and dwarves.
Gamely performed by a cast who seemingly think they’re working with Mel Brooks at the peak of his powers, and stuffed with cameos by Mastorakis’ celebrity pals (including but not limited to: Zsa Zsa Gabor; Yvonne De Carlo; the helmer’s In the Cold of the Night (1990) star Shannon Tweed; and Little Richard in a genuinely hilarious Grey Poupon skit), the plot is a shameless retread of Some Like it Hot (1959). In it, our two above-noted lunkheads, Frank (Robert Caso) and Frank (Kevin Schon), have to disguise themselves as women in order to avoid trouble after they’re lumped with a briefcase packed with evidence pertaining to the nefarious activities of drug lord/ketchup magnate Rupert Hess (Herb Edelman). M. Emmet Walsh and Mastorakis’ then-son-in-law, Brian Thompson, also feature, the latter employing a Brooklyn accent so cringe-inducing it makes Steven Seagal in Out for Justice (1991) sound like he was born and raised in Red Hook.
Landing on British video in autumn 1992 courtesy of Medusa/20:20 Vision, The Naked Truth debuted in the U.S. via Cinemax on 3rd May 1993. Curiously, the film was the second of three separate pieces of identically-titled media to be released stateside in ‘93 alone. It was sandwiched between the release of Tom Arnold’s HBO comedy special, The Naked Truth 3, and Leslie Nielsen’s fictional ‘autobiography’, The Naked Truth, which arrived in January and July respectively.
USA ● 1992 ● Comedy ● 99mins
Robert Caso, Kevinn Schon, Herb Edelman ● Dir. Nico Mastorakis ● Wri. Nico Mastorakis, Kirk Ellis