12/14/06

314 Mighty Jack

(1968, SciFi/Television/Spies, color)

What is Mighty Jack?

Rating: 1/2*

In a nutshell:

The crew of a giant aquatic airplane saves the world from a German in an iceberg.

Summary:

That tiger's the most life-like character in the film.An old man listens to some narrated exposition about something called Mighty Jack, created to combat the evil “organization known as Q,” on a seemingly endless loop. Meanwhile, an important Japanese guy named Atari refuses the advances of a Parisian girl, and then gets hauled away in a net, car and all, by the aforementioned evil members of Q.

The old man sends some guys in funny suits to fly around in a giant aquatic airplane to find him, hoping that Atari will dismantle his clothing and find all the cool stuff they installed for him. After the accidental discovery of his exploding suit buttons (thank goodness he never sent it to the dry cleaner), Atari fashions a powerful radio transmitter out of his shoes, drawing the funny-suited guys to the rescue. Meanwhile, a spectacled German with a longhaired white cat interrogates him by putting him in a black tube with bright lights. Atari thwarts him by refusing to open his eyes.

A traitorous secretary threatens the old guy with a gun, then explodes when she’s thwarted by a lady I’ll call Female Agent #1. The funny-suited guys show up in powder blue wetsuits. They free Atari and blow the place up. Atari starts giving orders to the crew, really cheesing them off. This makes it a little awkward when they take him back to the old guy, who announces that Atari is their new captain. Then the old guy announces that the island they blew up had no density, and that Q is threatening the world with room temperature ice.

They take their plane/boat/thing and find Q’s hideout in an iceberg. But, having found it, they decide not to do anything about it just yet. Instead, they go diving, and one of the divers gets hurt while torpedoes blow each other up in their vicinity. Everyone agrees that this is very significant.

Later, Female Agent #1 wanders the docks looking for a particular ship when Q thugs attack her. A Spanish revolutionary saves her and takes her back to his bus/house. Naturally, she takes him out to dinner and has her funny-suited friends spy on him a lot. A woman I’ll call Female Agent #2 makes small talk with a famous Italian journalist, who wants to do a story about Mighty Jack (whatever that is).

While they’re small talking, someone shoots at them through the window with a bullet made of room temperature ice. Atari and his crew go looking for the origins of the bullet. They find two scientists (a Japanese one and a German one) who were working on the all-important question of how to keep ice from melting at room temperature, but both claim to have had their research stolen recently.

The Italian Journalist takes Female Agent #2 to see the Japanese ice scientist, but find that he’s gone with all his research. Atari shows up with his crew and the Italian Journalist takes them to the docks. Meanwhile, the Spanish Revolutionary has kidnapped Female Agent #1 and the innocent Japanese ice scientist has been kidnapped by his traitorous half-German son. Atari realizes that the Italian also works for Q and they push him off of something high.

The Italian (inexplicably not dead yet) orders that the island be destroyed, which would somehow facilitate their conquest of the world. He takes the traitorous half-German son and Female Agent #1 to force their way into the installation with the aquatic plane. After sabotaging the plane with (you guessed it) room temperature ice, they walk right into a room of armed crewmembers and get mowed down—all except the crazed traitorous half-German son, who blows himself up.

Atari and company recover Female Agent #1 and the Japanese scientist. They get out the plane/submarine and decide that this time, they’re going to blow up Q once and for all. So they go to the Q installation that they knew about all along and try to blow it up. Trouble is, their plane/boat doesn’t work right because of the room temperature ice. Fortunately, the German and Japanese ice scientists work in conjunction to find an antidote, and they finish it just in time. They blow up Q, but not before the cat-loving German shoots himself in the head.

Introduction:

Josie and the Pussycats are next.There’s been a disaster on the Satellite of Love, involving a lot of shaving cream and silly string. Joel says, “must get personal finances in order,” in a Shatner-esque mumble and falls over dead. The ‘Bots bemoan his fate. A few tortured speeches later (“Don’t you do it!”) they reveal that they’re only playing.

Host Segment One:

The Mads unveil their line of Formal Flippers, for the fashionable scuba-diving spy on the go. Dr. Forrester has shaved his legs in order to show off his sexy high-heeled flippers from their line of women’s wear. Joel has invented the Ear Muffs, which are earmuffs shaped like enormous human ears. Quoth Crow, “I feel like Prince Charles.”

Host Segment Two:

Tom and Crow do a commercial for the new brand of dog food, Mighty Jack. Crow has a hideous little dog hand puppet, which Gypsy promptly eats.

Host Segment Three:

Tom and Crow put Joel in a black tube with bright lights. Joel thwarts them by not opening his eyes. Tom and Crow put a poisoned sandwich in the tube. Joel thwarts them by not eating it.

Host Segment Four:

Joel puts an aquarium in front of Cambot to make it look like they’re underwater. Then he pitches ideas for underwater movies to no one in particular by drowning a bunch of old toys.

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots sing a heartwarming little sea shanty called “Slow the Plot Down.” “We’ll scuttle the story and run her aground / Yo, ho, slow the plot down.” Joel wonders about the nature of Mighty Jack. Down in Deep 13, TV’s Frank dresses as a pirate and quotes Melville.

Stinger:

The traitorous half-German son blows himself up.

Thoughts:

Not executing a banked turn for once.What on earth is Mighty Jack? The movie has no idea, but I’ll tell you. It’s another Japanese-TV-series-edited-into-a-movie from the bowels of Sandy Frank. It’s like a badly dubbed fever dream with crappy special effects. The poor synopsis I cobbled together for you gives only the slightest taste of the helpless confusion I felt while watching it.

The excellent host segments salvage the movie a little. All of them were brilliantly funny and upbeat. Most of them (the disaster sketch, the dog food commercial, the bright lights torture, and the underwater sales pitch) were fast and frenetic. Joel’s refusal to eat the poisoned sandwich still makes me laugh, and seeing him dowse Josie and the Pussycats while talking a million miles a minute about how everything is better underwater makes my sides hurt. The sight of Dr. Forrester’s shaved legs was creepy, but worth a chuckle, and the song at the end summed up the movie perfectly.

Unfortunately, the film segments don’t hold up as well. In all fairness, this is not the fault of the Satellite crew, who gamely attempt to mock the material given to them. Some things are just so bad they defy mockery. Joel made a reference to the band “They Might Be Giants” once, and they noted that the plane/boat seemed to be doing a banked turn every time it was depicted, but aside from the funny slurping noises they made during the smoking scenes, they were really grasping at straws in this one. A couple of times, Tom had to resort to singing the forklift song from Fugitive Alien. You must have something better to do than watch this movie.