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Trimark Home Entertainment presents
Tequila Body Shots (1998)

"That drink - it's making me have all kinds of hallucinations!"
- Johnny (Joey Lawrence)

Review By: Daniel Hirshleifer   
Published: December 14, 2001

Stars: Joey Lawrence, Dru Mouser, Nathan Anderson
Other Stars: Josh Marchette, Robert Patrick Benedict, Jennifer Lyons, Senta Moses, Henry Darrow
Director: Tony Shyu

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for (strong language, some sexuality and substance abuse)
Run Time: 01h:36m:53s
Release Date: September 25, 2001
UPC: 031398776123
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- C-A-A D+

DVD Review

When I got this DVD in the mail, and I saw Joey Lawrence's name on the front cover, I braced myself for the worst. From his days of saying "Whoa!" on national television to his becoming the Disney Channel's in-house actor along with his two brothers, Joey Lawrence has represented what I consider the lowest depths of show business. However, Tequila Body Shots wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. Of course, it's still not a good movie, but it isn't terrible, and that's the best compliment I can give to ol' Joe.

Joey plays Johnny, a good-looking but nervous film student in Los Angeles. He and his two friends, Paul (Nathan Anderson), and Al (Josh Marchette) get an invitation from a guy named Hector to go to a Halloween party in Mexico. Johnny is unsure whether or not he'll go, until he meets a girl named Tamlyn (Dru Mouser) and her two friends, Angela (Jennifer Lyons), and Linda (Senta Moses). Johnny immediately feels a connection to Tamlyn, and she to him. As it turns out, they're going to the party in Mexico, so Johnny and company decide to ship down there. On the way, Johnny's friends get sick, and he takes them to a doctor (Henry Darrow). The Doc gives them tequila that immediately cures their ills. In gratitude, Johnny takes Doc into town, where the Doc gives him two bottles of tequila. The first imbues Johnny with the ability to read girls' minds, and he's told not to let anyone drink the second one. From there on, the plot thickens quite quickly, and I don't want to spoil it, but it involves demonic possession, a trip to the underworld, rape in a Mexican jail, and more fun happenings.

There are two main story elements in Tequila Body Shots: crazy supernatural events, and Johnny's love story with Tamlyn. While the two are often interconnected, it's pretty easy to separate them. The supernatural portions of the movie actually work quite well. Director Tony Shyu relies more on implied action than trying to dazzle us with special effects, and this is good, because the art of atmosphere is often lost on young directors, and the special effects in this movie are atrocious. The dialogue in these sequences isn't exactly Pulitzer Prize-worthy, but it'll do in a pinch. The love story, on the other hand, is a total failure. The dialogue goes from campy fun to overblown sentimentality, and the whole thing banks too much on the whole "spiritual connection" aspect. For example, a beautiful waitress named Tina lures Johnny to a strange strip club, where she proceeds to give him a body shot. He comes back with a hickey and stinking of alcohol, and Tamlyn gets mad at him. Within twenty minutes, he's explained it all away, and she forgives him, because she feels as if she's known him forever. Someone hand me a hankey.

The characters in this film are paper thin, and the actors suitably rise to the challenge their roles demand. Actually, all of the actors were enjoyable, although I can't imagine them playing anything but oversexed college kids (except for Joey Lawrence, who I can see as a fatherly auto mechanic who takes care of his two younger brothers - don't know why). I'd say the best of the lot is Nathan Anderson, who seems to have enough talent to maybe make something more of himself. The worst is, by far, Robert Patrick Benedict as the dorky hanger-on, Ted. I honestly can't see his career going anywhere after this.

If there's one sequence that seems to sum up the entire picture, it would be the trip to the Underworld. This sequence was based on the myth of Orpheus (of course, if you're looking for a truly good film based on Orphic myth, I can't send you quickly enough to pick up Jean Cocteau's Orpheus). The colors are all desaturated, and grain is added to help create a dark atmosphere. Some of the characters are traveling down a Styx-like river on a boat being rowed by the Grim Reaper. There is something approaching lyric beauty to these shots. And then the characters get to shore, where a party is taking place. A party with faux-techno music, where men in skeleton costumes do their best dancing. Out the window with lyric beauty. It gets worse when men with motorcycles come to take the dancers to Hell. I'm sorry, but how cheesy is it to see bikers taking people to Hell? This sequence is indicative of the film at large, while good at some points, the film inevitably takes a wrong turn that turns you off.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.77:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: For the most part, Tequila Body Shots looks good. There is a slight amount of grain evident (the Underworld sequence not withstanding, because the grain there is intentional), as well as some specks every once in a while. Other than that, the blacks are solid, and the colors are reproduced faithfully, with no bleeding.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 surround mix is actually quite pleasing. The rears get extensive use, mostly for music, but sometimes for sound effects. The dialogue is nicely mixed in, and wasn't crowded to the front. Bass was solid, and overall, I was quite happy with this mix. One complaint would be that the whole thing is mixed rather low.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring 100 Girls, Shriek
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The biggest extra is a "behind-the-scenes" documentary. I put that phrase in quotation marks because it's really a collection of cast interviews, with no behind-the-scenes footage at all. Also, these are some of the worst interviews I've ever seen. It's divided into a few sections: The first is the basis for the story, a short clip of Tony Shyu talking about how the Orphic myth inspired him. Then we go to a section on the story itself, which has actors telling us the story of the movie we've just seen, and poorly, at that. Also, Dru Mouser calls the story bizarre, proving that she probably thinks of David Lynch as "the guy who did The Straight Story." Then we get a section telling us about the characters, which as redundant as the section on the story. And then we get to hear what the cast thinks of the supernatural. I'm sorry, but who cares? Also included is a trailer, as well as trailers for two other films.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

While there are far worse movies than Tequila Body Shots, it falls in the chasm between pleasantly enjoyable and utterly forgettable. I suppose if you have insomnia and this is on late night cable it wouldn't hurt to watch it, but I doubt anyone will ever consciously pick this one up.

 


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