Friday, May 7, 2010

Canon MST3K Review: The Starfighters

There are movies that move slowly, where nothing happens for what seems like a long time, and then there's The Starfighters, which is completely void of suspense, drama, comedy, or much else that would make a movie entertaining. Instead, we are treated to a bunch of stock footage of Air Force jets flying and two long segments of jets refueling. There may be worse movies, but there isn't a movie I've ever seen where so little happens during the film. The only people that would like this movie are jet aficionados and fans of bad movies or Mystery Science Theater. A few notes about this movie.

- The lead actor is a man by the name of Robert Dornan, who plays Lt. John Wiskowski Jr. He's not much of an actor, but he did later gain fame as a republican congressman from California. Dornan is mostly remembered for being an outspoken congressman whose mouth got him in a lot of trouble over his political career. He was so off the wall that opponents would often call Dornan's mental health into question, and Michael Moore once tried to have him involuntarily committed to a mental asylum. Dornan also ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1996, but in that same year, lost his seat on the House of Representatives. If only Dornan was as animated in this movie as he was as a congressman, than the movie might be a little more interesting.
- In between refueling sequences and more stock footage of F-104s, there are a couple of subplots that the director spends two minutes on. One is the budding relationship between Lt. Wiskowski and Mary, a corn-tasseler from Iowa who just moved to California. These two had very little chemistry on-screen, and the girl was no better at acting than I am at flying a plane. Not surprisngly, this was her only job as an actress.
- The other plot briefly explored at various points whenever the director felt it was convenient was the attempts of Lt. Wiskowski's father, congressman John Wiskowski Sr., to try to get his son transferred from flying the smaller F-104s to the larger B-52 jets, which he had flown while in the Air Force and felt were much safer. Apparently, there isn't much to do in congress, as Mr. Wiskowski keeps butting in calling the Air Force base whenever he can. He and his son seem to have a complicated relationship, as he wants his soon to follow exactly in his footsteps it seems, but of course the younger Wiskowski slightly rebels. It would have been more interesting if Dornan could act and they spent more than 30 seconds at a time on that plot point, but at least it was something.
- There seem to be a lot of "actors" whose day jobs must have been with the Air Force, because not only can they not act very well, they don't exactly have leading man looks. My guess is that it was one of the conditions for being able to film on the Air Force base that a lot of its personnel had to be in the film.
- This movie has the uncanny ability to squash any suspense possible. One scene had Lt. Wiskowski flying with faulty gear, but of course he landed safely even though they showed the rescue crews getting ready for at least two minutes of the film. Another pilot, Lt. Lyons (who was married to a woman whose hair never moves) crashes his plane in a storm (even though it was clear and sunny at the time), but parachutes out and is rescued without incident. They spent more time showing planes being refueled in the air than with this sequence, which I assume was suppose to be the climax of the film.
- Since nothing happens and there is very little dialogue, this gives the MST3K crew a bunch of time to fill in the silence with their remarks. In fact, things were so boring that towards the end they were running out of jokes dealing with refueling. But just when things were getting boring, the film introduces the "Poopie Suit" a suit used by the Air Force to keep pilots afloat in case they crash into the water. Needless to say, something called a poopie suit is bound to inspire many, many jokes.
- The soundtrack for this film is kind of odd, as most of the flying scenes are set to easy-listening jazz music and big-band music. Why? I don't know, but it does provide a bit of a contrast to the powerful jets flying in the air.
- Favorite line of the movie: When Lt. Wiskowski is listening to his girl talk about shucking corn, he ends the conversation by saying "I always knew that sex was corny, but did you ever think that corn could be so sexy?" I must find a way to use this line this weekend. Also, why does he think sex is corny?

Bottom line, there are many reasons why some people think this is the worst movie of all-time. Personally, I feel there are worse movies out there, but not many. I must implore those that are interested in watching this film to never watch it as it's originally made, and instead watch the MST3K version because at least then you'll be entertained. However, even the Mystery Science Theater crew can't save this bad of a movie. As an MST3K episode, I'll give it a 6 out of 10, as there were a lot of funny lines, as a movie, I give The Starfighters a 1 out of 10, as the only thing it accomplishes is making life in the Air Force seem incredibly boring.

Well, thanks for reading, and you have any ideas for future posts so I don't have to see movies like The Starfighers again, than share those ideas by either leaving a comment or by e-mail at Here is a video somebody made of the best bits of this movie:

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