April 13, 2012

PICK-UP (1975/DVD/Deimos) Review

When a film opens with a super-tight shot of a shimmery, turquoise belt buckle, you might think to yourself, "Well, self -- someone is about to get naked," or, "Someone is so about to get sold some authentic Native American Jewelry." Nope, it's neither of those. Someone is just gonna do some open-air peeing, and that someone is Chuck. Chuck is a hippie -- a man who loves his freedom almost as much as he loves his secondary minerals and HAM radios -- and, this being 1975, you couldn't even pick up the newspaper or take your grandmother for a walk without getting your Florsheims damp in a puddle of hippie piss. The more comfortable you were with peeing outdoors, the freer you were, and let me assure you: Chuck is FREE, baby.

Chuck's mom knew exactly what to get him for Life Day
Urine-soaked openings aside, Pick-Up has little to do with pee-pee and even less to do with Ford F-150's. Freewheelin'-as-hell hippie chick Carol and her introspective-as-hell bestie Maureen are inexplicably hitch-hiking in the Florida Everglades when they are picked up (title clues!) by our roadside urinator Chuck, who has been tasked with driving a tricked-out, groovy-as-shit Hump Bus to...well, somewhere. Chuck's loaner rig has it all, from a wall-mounted 1970's rotary phone to a swingin' kitchenette. What's that? Oh, so you think you can pretty much fill in the blanks from here, do ya? Well, think again! Okay, okay -- you're right, there is a lot of nudity (the good kind), but once the bus gets stuck in some mud during one of those freak Everglades Plot Device Rainstorms, things take a turn for the weird. And if there's one thing I know about scary Floridian swamps, it's that they're filled with spooky theremin music, dirty priest flashbacks galore and the Priestess of Apollo.

A typical day in the Everglades
Not two minutes into this swamp business, Chuck and Carol are off hunting raccoon babies in the marshes and Maureen is tripping the light fantastic with Apollo and his minions. Shortly following her solo sex scene on top of a swampy, marble, sacrificial altar, Maureen accepts the Scepter of Apollo, and Carol most definitely kisses a baby raccoon. Yes, it is exactly that straightforward. What follows is what happens when you watch Easy Rider too many times and realize that it would be a much better movie if you took the "trippy graveyard scene," substituted Fonda and Hopper out for naked hippies and inserted a healthy dose of Greek mythology. We've all been there, right?

Carol and Chuck make the most out of their time trapped in the swamp by shedding those oppressive clothes and humping the hours away on everything nature has to offer (including a homemade sex swing!) and loner Maureen is kept company by a roving senator, a little self-inflicted campfire stigmata, and an oh-my-GAWD-creepy clown. So don't worry about Maureen -- she's good. But I think the real moral of the story here is: don't ever play dress-up in togas and attempt some nighttime sex on a swamp altar, because Bobo The Pants-Shittingly-Scary Clown and The Voyeur Senator will most definitely show up and try to spoil your evening. But you've got to persevere and just bone your way through the distractions -- this movie is going to end soon! These are just the kinds of cautionary tales that the Everglades provide for us, my friends.

Carol's dancing gains the approval of the Everglades Rotary Club
"But are the hippie chicks hot?" Of COURSE they are, dummy! And super out of circulation, to boot! Good luck finding these junior Meryl Streeps in any other 1970s custom-bus, boobie-filled, sacrifice-fantasy movie. These ladies (and the director, too) knew they had hit gold right out of the gate and decided to quit while they still had most of their dignity. Luckily, Carol makes the most of her debut/swan song by going "half monty" at the six minute mark, during an enticing(?) dance that looks like it was choreographed by a drunk Thom Yorke (but only on a dare).

Come for the peeing. Stay for the boobs. And the dancing. And the clown.

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