Friday, March 12, 2010

Canon Movie Review: Mitchell (MST3K Version)

As I mentioned earlier, Merlin Olsen, a legendary football player and an actor who starred in the TV Show Father Murphy, died today. Olsen was also in a little movie called Mitchell, playing a butler/bodyguard named Benton. In tribute to Mr. Olsen, I decided to watch and review the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode of Mitchell. For those that don't know, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a show that featured a guy and two robots making wisecracks about bad movies. Sure, the movie is just awful, but it's a great episode, probably my favorite one. A few thoughts:

-Mitchell is played by Joe Don Baker, who starred in the original Walking Tall. I think this movie killed off what little appeal Baker may of had as a leading man. He was pretty bad in this film, as his only expression for most of the movie seemed to be one of confusion.

- Whoever thought the audience would be appealed to Mitchell was dead wrong. Sure, he's a cop that plays by his own rules, but he's also a jerk to everyone he meets, he's usually drunk or hung over, and whatever good police work he does is usually the result of dumb luck more than any particular detective skills he may possess. He also sleeps with hookers, and then arrests them for prostitution. That's kind of hypocritical, isn't it.

- The opening credits feature our man Mitchell in super-slow motion picking a rock over his head and flinging it to the ground. Why the powers that be decided to do this, I'll never know, as Mitchell has his mouth open and looks like a fool during the credits.

- The audio of this movie is quite poor, and the poor quality is compounded by the fact that Joe Don Baker mumbles his lines a lot during the movie. There were a couple of times where I couldn't understand what he was saying.

- I'm having a hard time deciding what was the best scene in this movie. I think it was when Mitchell was on stakeout and a kid skated by. The kid skated by, said something about his mother not liking Mitchell, and Mitchell responded by saying he doesn't like the kid's mother. What follows next is true comedy, as Mitchell repeats everything the kid says, except to take a small break to tell him to buzz off. This goes on for about a minute, until Mitchell finally screams "BUZZ OFF" at the kid and the kid skates away. Mitchell then rolls up his window, cursing and screaming and turning his radio on really loud for some reason. Who wouldn't want to root for a cop that screams at children?

- The opening of the movie features a burglar breaking into somebody's house. Unfortunately, the homeowner Walter Deaney (played by John Saxon) comes home (with two loose women, I might add) and hears the commotion. He gets a gun out from the wall or something and shoots the burglar in cold blood. Deaney then plants a gun on him. Of course, Mitchell comes in, looking like he's had about 8 tall boys, and doesn't by Deaney's story. So, Mitchell comes up with a master plan. He breaks into Deaney's house, unarmed, so Deaney can shoot him or something. I'm pretty sure that's illegal, or at the very least entrapment. Anyway, Mitchell gets shot at, but to the audience's horror, does not get hit by any bullets.

- Mitchell is such an alcoholic that during sex, he must have a six pack by his bed at all times. In a move befitting of his talents, Mitchell uses his toes to grab the six-pack by the plastic rings, gets a beer, and than puts the rest of it back on the night stand, and yes, there was a sex scene with Joe Don Baker in this movie. Luckily most of it was concealed under the sheets, but what I saw was disturbing enough.

- The hosts of this show really rip into this movie, particularly the lead character (and why not, he's such an easy target). Allegedly, Joe Don Baker heard about their actions, and is reportedly very upset with the crew at MST3K. Personally, I felt their words were quite appropriate, as this movie sucked on ice and Joe Don wasn't exactly Laurence Olivier in this flick.

- I've seen this movie three times (or rather, this episode), and I still have no idea what's happening or who's ripping off who. There was supposed to be a heroin deal, the main villian, Cummings (played by Martin Balsam) sends Mitchell to pick it up. Why Mitchell agrees to it, I'll never know. Cummings and Benton (Merlin Olsen) then take off on a boat. Mitchell picks up the heroin, which is an unsuspecting old lady's luggage. Mitchell drives off a few feet, stops the car, busts the trunk open and digs through the old lady's luggage. He finds the heroin in a secret compartment, takes about 2 kilos in his fingers and licks it. He discovers it's chalk. Mitchell, ever the humanitarian, then tells the old lady to walk away, leaving her without her luggage at the docks. The dealers are told to kill Mitchell, then put him on Cummings boat, only Cummings has taken off for Mexico, making the second part of the task just a smidge more difficult. Anyway Mitchell, after putting a handkerchief in the gas tank, arrives at the meet. The dealers find out it's fake and blames Mitchell, so naturally he blows up the car. This is just one of the confusing plot lines found in this movie, and it only got worse from there.

- During the filming of this movie, Merlin Olsen was still an active player. In fact, in 1974 he won the Bert Bell NFL Player of the Year Award. To follow up on this success, Olsen decides to act in Mitchell. I'd say that's a dramatic step down, but to each their own.

- Interesting note about this episode, as this was Joel Hodgson's last episode. Hosgson, one of the original creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000, had decided he wanted to try other things. So off he went, to be replaced by Mike Nelson. To some, this meant a drastic drop of quality in MST3K, but personally, I think the Nelson episodes were just as good as the Hodgson episodes.

- At many points during the movie, the cast kept yelling Mitchell! when our hero waddled onto the screen. The reason I mention this is because this became a bit of an inside joke amongst my friends and I. In fact, during my college graduation, while I was walking to get my diploma, my brother Ben decided to yell, Mitchell! once my name was called. I actually couldn't make out what he said (incidentally, much like viewers sometimes can't understand what Joe Don Baker is saying at various times during Mitchell) but it did get a laugh out of a couple of people, while everyone else around him wondered what the heck he said and why. If only I had that on tape.

In conclusion, this movie is 31 flavors of suck. However, as an episode as Mystery Science Theater 3000, it is very very funny. This movie is rather easy to mock, and boy do they ever mock this one. So overall, I give it a 9.3204404 out of 10. Thanks for reading. If you have ideas for future posts, or want to submit a review of your to The Canon Review, than e-mail those ideas to me at I leave you with one of the least exciting car chases in cinema history, from where else, Mitchell.



    I need to watch this one again...

  2. Everybody needs to watch it again, as soon as possible.