So, yeah . . . courtesy of all of the stock footage — and its resulting documentary feel — some are inclined to call this bee-boppin’ lesson in tedium a “mondo movie.”
Well, yeah, if “mondo boring” is a thing.
Any film that feels the need to suffix their film title with “The Motion Picture” — see Hamburger: The Motion Picture and Hot Dog: The Movie, as an examples — you know the film has an array of problems, and then some — obviously of the production variety, but, in the case of this movie, mostly of the legal variety. In fact, the only time the suffix worked was when Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released . . . and even then (with its bald alien chick V’ger non-sense). Bottom Line: “The Motion Picture” movies that feel the need to explain to us what it is, will suck ass steaks — studios and budgets of the mega and non variety, be damned. And California Girls sucks the peroxide right out of the bleach-bottle blonde hair shafts and the decals off the bumpers of the VW hippie-surfer bus.
Look, I get it. Every budding producer and aspiring writer and director has to start somewhere, but this inept radio comedy . . . just wow . . . and I thought Zoo Radio, (Young Hot ‘n Nasty) Teenage Cruisers, and On the Air Live with Captain Midnight (by the Rocktober Blood team) were inept radio comedies. Out of his 16 producer credits, eight of which he directed and four of which he wrote, you, more than likely — courtesy of its connection to all things Battlestar Galactica — known William Webb for one film: Party Line (1988), as result of your celluloid schadenfreude to see how far Richard Hatch had fallen and Leif Garrett (done a few for Webb’s production shingle) will desperately keep trying. Then again, if you’re a fan of Richard Roundtree chompin’ cigars and yelling from behind a desk, that was probably your incentive to watch that bit o’ sleaze noir.
As for California Girls: my incentive of plucking it off the home video shelf was result of its being set inside a radio station. However, if your celluloid schadenfreude runs analog waters deep — like whatever happened to Leigh McCloskey, Robbie Rist, Martin Landau, Robert Forester, Jeff Fahey, Yancy Butler, James Coburn, and Stephen Baldwin deep — perhaps you’ve seen Webb’s mid-’80s to mid-’90s direct-to-video potboilers Dirty Laundry, Delta Fever, The Banker, The Hit List, and Target. Maybe you’re a completist and need to see the past-their-heyday works of Zach Galligan, Catherine Mary Stewart, Michael Nouri, James Brolin, and Meg Foster, so you rented The Psychic and Back Stab.
Hey, at least Webb employs all of the actors we get jazzed about at B&S About Movies. That’s right: Jennifer Aniston and Melissa McCarthy fans need to just keep on surfin’, for there is nothing here for you to see.
And, there’s nothing here for YOU, the loyal B&S About Movies frequent surfer to see, either.
“Extra, Extra!” you’ve been warned.
But . . . if you want to revisit the glory years of late ’70s and early ’80s T&A drive-in flicks, you’re celluloid schadenfreude mileage, may vary. But hey, when a movie gives you full nude skydiving and topless mud wrestling scenes — that had to be cut by 3 1/2 minutes — for its subsequent video distribution, well, you just gotta pull out the Kleenex and the coco butter hand cream, and believe in the plot.
Well, there is no plot.
Eh, well, if you count the about 10 minutes of “Mad Man Jack,” an L.A disc jockey trapped in the booth of KRZY (they’re “crazy”), a decrepit L.A radio station with sagging ratings that decides to boost their numbers by finding “The Most Exciting California Girl” and award the winner with a $10,000 prize. And you thought the Zoo Radio gang at “94.5 FM KLST K-Lost” were a bunch of this ain’t Animal House or Porky’s losers*.
Wait, if the joint is a dump and the ratings are in the tank, where did they get the prize money? Oh, well, the “stunt” will perk up the potential advertisers’ ears (see the newspaper, above) and they’ll buy spots. Okay, the “mountain comes to Mohamed” approach is not how radio advertising and programming works, but, whatever.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the radio . . .
Three spandex-clad girls (one being 1976 Penthouse pet Lindsay Freeman; who also starred in the groundbreaking SOV’er Boardinghouse as the aka’d Alexandra Day, along with Mary McKinley, who is another one of our spandex babes, here) in a cramped apartment decide going fully nude while riding horses, roller skating, and skydiving should be exciting enough to win the prize. And yes, things go full frontal. But don’t go for popcorn during the skydiving stunt or you’ll miss the quickie “triangle of death” shots. (Again, this is the “nasty” 3 1/2-minutes excised from some video prints; the You Tube upload of the film, provided below, is the uncut version.)
And, with that, we spend the next 80-minutes of watching on-the-sly, Los Angeles travelog stock footage — backed by a hip, new wave soundtrack (yes, the music by the bands listed on the poster really appears in the movie) — of girls . . . rolling skating, wind surfing, doing karate, playing softball, navigating water slides, lifting weights, riding mechanical bulls, disco dancing, shopping on Rodeo Drive, pumping gas (and pressing their breasts into the windshield), mud wrestling, riding dolphins, soaking in hot tubs, competing in roller derby tournaments, and (it’s highly unlikely with the NFL authorization) ogling the L.A Rams cheerleader squad on the sidelines. Then our three ne’er-do-well chickies naked skydive-land on the radio station’s roof and net the prize. Then they all hop into Mad Man Jack’s ’65 Ford Mustang and head off to the beach (and he’s fat, hairy, giggling, and disgusting) to frolic in the waters.
No. Seriously. That’s the movie. Pick up your empty soda and popcorn containers as you leave. And put away your coco butter.
If you’re looking for a movie with three-plus minutes of endless hang gliding to the tune of 10 CC’s “I’m Not in Love” . . . if you want three minutes of wet tee-shirt bikini boxing to the tune of Kool & the Gang’s “Ladies Night” . . . you’ve found your movie. That’s how this whole movies goes down: DJ mentions ladies “doing something” (e.g., racing dirt bikes) and it cues a song — that plays out in full (in the case of the dirt bikes, it’s Foreigner with “Urgent”), and so on.
Of course, that bit runs thin pretty quick, so Man Man Jack sends out his studio assistant to conduct “man on the street” interviews to ask listeners that burning question: “Who do you consider the most exciting girl?” Then we’re treated to an endless stream of . . . well, it looks like a bunch of down-and-out acting hopefuls auditioning, making clips for their actor’s reels. One even appears as ex-President Richard M. Nixon. And yes, it’s as awful as you think and you hope the hang gliding footage returns.
Now, if duping the NFL by shooting on-the-sly at a football game wasn’t enough . . . how in the world did William Webb afford the rights to the music of Blondie, Devo, the Go-Go’s, Foreigner, Kool & the Gang, Queen, the Pretenders, the Police, Sister Sledge, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer, and 10 CC?
Magic 8-Ball says, no way, Jose. Call the lawyers. And we say that because Rod Stewart is not credited on the theatrical one-sheets, the VHS sleeves, nor credited in the film. Ah, but Hot Rod’s song, “Passion,” does legitimately appear in the Corinne Alphen-starring softcore anthology, New York Nights, aka Shackin’ Up (1984), for those of you needing film with A) a Rod Stewart tune, B) another Penthouse Playmate acting, C) Willem Dafoe making his acting debut, and D) a film to settle the bet that Marilyn Chambers doesn’t star in the movie, but in the 1994 softcore flick New York Nights with fellow softcore actresses Susan Napoli and Julia Parton, which Cinemax’d as Bedtime Stories.**
And it’s not just B-Sides and studio leftovers, as is the case with most budgetary soundtracks on low-budget films. We are talking about the aforementioned bands’ major hits with the likes of “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Celebration” and “Ladies Night,” “Another Bites the Dust,” “Brass in Pocket,” “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” “Passion,” “All American Girls,” and “Hot Stuff.” Yeah, the California Girls: The Movie soundtrack is almost as cool as the new wave delight that is The Last American Virgin . . . but thank the celluloid overloads there’s no pretentious Bono crooning over a teenage abortion scene amid the Mad Man Jack pattering . . . and you don’t have your nostalgic teen heart ripped out at the end. Hey, back in the day, before you easily accessed porn on the Internet, or were old enough to get behind the beaded curtain of your local video store, or were allowed to pick skin mags off the high racks, you had titillating movies such as California Girls to sooth your tween savage beast.
Not that it helps in watching this mess: The real life Maggie Parker, who has her new wave concert broadcast on the air of KRZY (with the song “My Baby”), is better known as Maggie Mayall, the wife of British blues-rock legend John Mayall (know your Eric Clapton trivia). Their son, Jason, worked as a production assistant on the film.
The doppelganger caveat: Don’t confuse this long-form T&A rock video mess with the year-later released Tawny Kitaen comedy California Girls. As for this California Girls, this movie — and we use the term in the loosest form possible — must be seen to be believed. You can see it (for now, so watch it quick) on You Tube, because, with that soundtrack, this is surely to be pulled and it’s never coming out on a DVD or Blu — and least not in a non-grey variety. The VHS tapes are out there, and they ain’t cheap. Hey, we found this clip “Barney’s Girls” to sample, and here’s the soundtrack (hopefully, by the time you read this, they’ll still uploaded.)
* Hey, don’t forget that we discuss Animal House and Porky’s — as well as all of their knockoffs — courtesy of our “Exploring: ’80s Comedies” featurette.
** Update: We since conversed with the film’s uploader and learned they overlaid the Rod Stewart song as result of copyright issues over Blondie preventing the upload. You fooled me, as the Stewart tune fits in perfectly. But still . . . how did this cheapjack flick afford all of those songs? So you still gotta call the lawyers . . . you know, the kinda lawyer that cops a table at Barney’s Beanery and uses the payphone on the corner as the “office” phone.
About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.