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Busted
(1997)

Director: Corey Feldman  
Cast:
Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Dominick Brasscia


As I write this, it seems very unlikely that I will eventually settle down and get married - I am having too much fun watching unknown movies. Needless to say, it's also unlikely that I'll ever have kids. However, if I ever do have kids, I already have plans as to how I will raise them. When they are young, I'll be sure to have them watch thoughtful family films like The Last Unicorn and The Flight Of Dragons. Also, I would encourage my children to look around and find what interests them and pursue it, even if it's (gag) sports. But what if one or more of my children wanted to get into acting? I'm not talking about deciding to get into acting once they graduate from high school, but get into acting while they are still a minor? Well, my immediate reaction to that is that I would let them give it a try, but I would place some conditions on it. The first condition would be that if at any time they decide that acting is not for them, they can get out of it at any time - I would never force a child to be an actor. The second condition would be that with any money that they earn from acting, I would require that most (if not all) of the money go into a trust fund that my child could only touch once they reach adult age. The third condition would be that while my child pursues acting, he or she at the same time would prepare a backup plan in case they find themselves without acting work once they reach adult age. I would require my child to have other hobbies and interests, as well as schooling in subjects that may assist him or her into getting a different kind of job as an adult.

You've probably guessed by what I wrote in the above paragraph that I feel that the acting profession has many potential pitfalls, not just for adult actors but also for child actors. Well, I have good reason for thinking so. Haven't all of us heard about the misery of former child actors? I'm not saying that all child actors have a hard time as an adult. Shirley Temple and Rodney Allen Rippy (the later being the star of 1970s Jack In The Box commercials) had parents who really loved and cared for them and made sure that success didn't spoil them, and both of them grew up to be well-adjusted adults. But examples like those seem to be the exception for child actors, at least the famous ones. Jackie Coogan and Gary Coleman both made fortunes that were stolen by their parents, for example. And come to think of it, there are plenty of child stars who seem to have had good parents but fell into pitfalls all the same as they aged. There are enough examples of those kinds of former child actors that make me seriously question if I would allow my child to act at all. Drugs and alcohol seem to be common pitfalls, such as with Drew Barrymore and Dana Plato. And then there are the cases of the two Coreys, Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, two famous child stars of the 1980s. As they got more successful, they fell into the trap of drugs and alcohol. To make matters worse for them, once both of them reached the age of eighteen, roles in major Hollywood studio productions seemed to disappear overnight, leaving them to make a meagre living in the world of direct-to-video movies.

While Feldman managed to kick his drug habit, Haim was never quite able to. As you probably know, Haim eventually passed away broke and drug-addicted. But before that point, Haim and Feldman maintained a friendship, though it was often put to the test by their Bustedpersonal problems, Haim's moreso than Feldman's. And they were also able to team up in several movies in their adult years, just like they did when they were younger. One of these adult team-ups was the comedy Busted. My curiosity about how they would come across as adults and paired together again at their age was one reason why I decided to give this movie a look. The fact that it was a movie picked up by PM Entertainment was another reason. But the most interesting thing about the movie was that it was also Feldman's debut as a director. The idea of Feldman having free reign on a movie intrigued me. Not that I had high hopes that Feldman would turn out to be a great director, but there was definitely a strong possibility that the end results would be a gigantic train wreck that would give me plenty to write about. Anyway, here's what the back of the DVD box said in its plot description: "COREY FELDMAN directs COREY HAIM in this screwball comedy! The summer resort of Amity houses the wildest officers on the Eastern Seaboard, especially since they're hookers! The town's police station - now a bordello - has taken crime off the street and into their jail. But when the mayor hires Captain Mary Mae to man the station, she discovers a whole new meaning to the term "vice squad". Cameo appearances include ELLIOTT GOULD and RON JEREMY."

I feel that the first way I should tackle Busted is to carefully examine exactly what that blurb on the back of the box says, the first examination being the claim of the first sentence. Does Corey Feldman really direct Corey Haim? Well, the answer is yes... sort of. I say "sort of", because Corey Haim barely appears in the movie, despite being pictured prominently on the cover of the DVD box. (Feldman, by the way, is not featured at all on the cover.) If I recall correctly, his first appearance is more than halfway through the movie, and he only makes one or two more equally brief appearances after that. Some research I did on the movie uncovered a story that Haim was originally to have a much larger part in the movie, but Haim proved to be so unreliable on the set (in part due to his drug habit) that Feldman reluctantly fired his friend some time into the shoot. The movie tries to keep Haim's limited role in the viewers' minds by making excuses for the character's disappearances (eventually stating the character quit the police force in the final few minutes of the movie), but it just feels strange the other characters keep mentioning him when his role is ultimately completely disposable. The second thing about the box that I'd like to bring up is the movie's trumpeting of its cameos. Did the writer of that blurb really think that the movie could be sold by stating the washed-up Elliot Gould and porn star Ron Jeremy appear in it? Or even any of the other cameos in the movie, which include Rance Howard (father of Ron), Todd Bridges (Diff'rent Strokes), Penthouse Pet Julie Strain and Playboy Playmate Ava Fabian? Well, those last two might be a sellable feature, and it's possible the other cameo players might be as well, because it's likely you have at least heard of these people. But with almost all of the famous people in the cast playing just cameos, that's not a promising sign. If the producers couldn't afford a more well-known leading cast apart from the cheap and washed-up Coreys, it suggest they didn't have the money to buy other things necessary for a good comedy, like good production values and a decent script.

While I'm on the subject of scripts, there's one more thing about the movie's DVD box I would like to talk about. On the front (and back) of the DVD box, the blurb, "Faster than a speeding Airplane. More powerful than a Naked Gun" is stated. The movie wants to be a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker kind of spoof, but it fails at that for several reasons. The first and most obvious is that its jokes are painfully unfunny. There's a woman who has a big letter "J" on a leash who walks across the street and is busted for "jaywalking". A cop says he "ran a record" on a suspect, and pulls out an LP record with the suspect's face on the cover. Another suspect who is caught "red handed" literally has red hands, and when the precinct cops declare they will go "by the book", they all walk past a gigantic book. And so on. These dead-on-arrival gags come across as if they were written by an especially immature eight year old who had only seen one (bad) spoof movie in his life. Not only do these gags not read well, they are often executed in an extremely incompetent fashion that makes them even worse than you can imagine. When someone threatens to punch someone's lights out, for example, you barely see the desk lamp that subsequently gets punched. Another reason why this ZAZ-wannabe fails in its intentions is that for much of the movie, it doesn't try to be a ZAZ comedy. Sometimes it's ZAZ-inspired, but for long periods of time it tries to be other kinds of comedy, ranging from Police Academy hijinks to soft core sex comedy. With the movie's refusal to more or less stay at one kind of comedy, the movie feels really schizophrenic, so much so that even the few gags in the movie that are funnier than what I've reported are hard to laugh at. The tone of the movie changes so often that you can't set your mind at one level and sit down and relax and enjoy the jokes.

As you have probably guessed after reading what I've written to this point, Feldman's direction of Busted is awful. In fairness to Feldman, he was obviously working not only with an unreliable actor, but with a pretty small budget. Almost the entire movie takes place indoors on the precinct set, which looks like it was constructed and painted with extreme haste for a porno movie. But even with limitations such as those, there's no reason why Busted had to be this awful. For starters, Feldman obviously thought that acting funny was funny, since every actor gives a very broad performance. Apparently Feldman didn't realize that the ZAZ movies in part work because everyone is acting straight and not hammering their lines into the audience's mind. Another mistake Feldman makes with his cast of actors is that none of the central characters in the movie are particularly likable.  The precinct of cops comes across more like an irresponsible group of law-breakers than a bunch of fun-loving and sympathetic people. Feldman also thinks that funny noises on the soundtrack make any scene funnier, repeating gags over and over that weren't funny the first time around is also funny, and sights like a fat naked man or two women beating each other to a bloody pulp are a barrel of laughs. I also couldn't have done with the scene where Feldman's character imagines he's in a shower and fondling and soaping up two women who are as naked as he is. (He later makes out with a lingerie-clad woman while only wearing his underwear.) Busted is a complete bust, and if you're unlucky to watch it, chances are you'll feel that Corey Haim got off the best compared to all the movie's other principle players by being in as little of the movie as possible.

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See also: Backfire!, Viewer Discretion Advised, Voodoo

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