The late seventies to mid eighties car chase flicks was catapulted from on the fly Roger Corman movies to the mainstream all because of Burt Reynolds. His Smokey and The Bandit parts one and two and Cannonball Run inspired many a filmmaker to make their own road hog star vehicles. One of the strangest is set on a distant continent where animals and humans must share the land and you never know what sort of exotic location you will run across. Billed as a high adventure and a side splitting comedy, SAFARI 3000 boils down to just one singular question. Can one monkey stop the whole show?
The plot in question is fairly simple. Super simple. a real Git It Girl reporter from Playboy (she writes the words, doesn't do the pictures mind you) decides to do a story on the African International Rally in, yes, Africa. Her job is on the line, because she got arrested for solicitation when she was doing a piece of 'hos. Her boss tosses some cash at her and she is OFF to the Motherland. There she meets a one time Hollywood stuntman, now insane person, who races cars for no good reason and is played by David Carradine. He had starred in over 200 movies before his untimely death in 2009. His films ranged from high caliber character studies to stuff like this. He seems to basically be cashing a check and having a wonderful African vacation. The real star of the movie is Stockard Channing. Naturally, all you can see is Rizzo. And the film is kinda like what you would think Rizzo would get herself into. She cleans up her act a little, goes to jr. college and got an education and landed a sweet job at Playboy as a reporter. Then she gets to go on misadventures around the world. But at lunch she always takes a break and kicks someone off the seats and says, "Sounds like a drag."
Rizzo lands in the middle of Africa and calls her contact. On the other line, her friend is suddenly surounded by guys with machetes and he get his arm cut off. The phone goes dead and Rizzo calmly states, "Operator, I think my party's been cut off!" HAHA!!! THESE ARE THE JOKES!! The good thing is is you can see every single joke coming a mile away, so you are prepared. She runs into Carradine and they do some meet cute stuff and yell at each other to develop chemistry, but then there is a cobra in the car eginine and everyone freaks out. They have to get a new car for the race because the old falls apart. They close the door, walk away and you know it is going to happen. As soon as they are gone, it crumbles. HA!
The great African International Rally is a 3 day course and only 20 percent of all the contestants will finish. The teams are as follows:
The French Guys- They drink wine and eat cheese and talk in a CRAZEE french accent.
The Chinese Guys- They take a ton of photos and talk in a CRAZEE chinese accent. They even have a chinese musical score to go with them when they are on the screen.
Valley Guys- Surfer dudes with a far out vocab and bleach blonde hair.
The Bar Girls- Two best friends who have left their husbands behind.
The Gay Guys- Quote "I'm here for the men!"
The Jocks- I got confused and The Jocks MIGHT be the Valley Guys.
UK Guys- Drink tea and talk in a CRAZEE english accent.
The Bad Guys- Christopher Lee( in Darth Vader drag!) and a henchman.
S3000 is a big budget version of WACKY RACES, but nothing really wacky happens and there really doesn't seem to be a race going on. Carradine and Rizzo seem to have a RENT A COP romance, which is not a good thing, but she confesses to a raunchy past which is ALWAYS a good thing. They are stopped by a Zulu tribe (all with HOT bodies) and then it happens. The movie goes from "on the verge of turning off" straight into the Twilight Zone. And it all is because of one little monkey. Not only does including the monkey become one of the worst things SAFARI 3000 could have done, but it is done without anyone's consent. For the most part, Team Rizzo has a tight grip on the movie. Stockard Channing is trying really hard to bust into leading lady status and she gives it her all in SAFARI 3000, but the powers that be just won't give her a break. All the interior car shots of Carradine and Channing are just them in a car being pulled by a truck. Sometimes it goes at a snails pace, sometimes it goes a little too fast for a car packed with star power. In one telling scene, a monkey jumps into the car. Carradine turns to Rizzo, in what seems to be character, and states, "Toss it out the window!" The car is zooming at this point. Rizzo looks out the window and back at Carradine. She says, "I am not tossing a monkey out of a moving car!" When he agrues, she breaks character and looks directly at the camera, I am assuming thinking she is looking at the director and repeats, "I am not tossing a monkey out of a moving car!" She clutches the squirming monkey to her chest and stares straight ahead. From this point on, the movie becomes a Herzog film. All the actors are tortured and everyone seems worse for wear.
All the supporting cast is dumped. The Bar Girls go all Thelma And Louise on us, the UK guys crash, The Chinese guys get stuck in the water and the others, who knows. We don't see them again. Only Team Rizzo and The Bad Guys are left. At a pit stop, Team Rizzo finds out that they have to share a room and monkeys are not allowed in the rooms. Channing, still clutching the monkey tightly as it tries to squirm away, exclaims, "He is terribly well behaved" and the monkey promptly slaps her across the face and claws at her hair. Proving that he has got to be the worst prop EVER in a movie. She just puts him in her suitcase and sneaks him in. And Christopher Lee sends a lot of time sitting down. He refuses to have a monkey.
45 minutes in and naturally, Team Rizzo fall in love and they have some hot mud play in the jungles of Africa while Channing wears white shorts. Then they full on do it in a hot spring! It seems like the movie has been on for at least three hours now. It is turning into some Gone With The Wind shit. They run into the last king of scotland, but they get away and then we spend a good chunk of the movie watching Stockard Channing take photos. Very exciting. If there is a race going on, I have no idea where they are in the leg of it. It's suppose to be a three dayer, but I swear it has been night at least five or six times. I could be wrong. The great thing about all this driving around and Rizzo taking photos is that the monkey is firmly planted on her head. And she just lets it sit there. She cannot control it and it seems to think Rizzo is it's mamma. At one point, she ties a piece of rope around the monkeys waist and Carradine gives her some shit for it. Totally real stuff not scripted. They drive a little more and then Carradine stops the car for some elephants and steals a kiss. As they passioniately make out, you see the monkey skirt out the window. As the car pulls away, she realizes the monkey is gone and seems to panic just a little. Then pulls the rope and the monkey back in the car. She looks directly at Carradine and says, "Now aren't you glad I tied a piece of rope around him?!" The monkey immediately plants himself on her head and she smiles.
Nothing happens for a long time and I kinda left my body for a little while. Team Rizzo crash into a river, but their car floats. They stand on top of the car. The monkey stands on Channing's head. They have a little bit of a race with The Bad Guys and I don't want to spoil the ending, but they win.
So in a nutshell, this movie will make you crazy. There is something to it that makes you want to finish it, but you don't have to worry about a sequel or such. I am assuming that the movie is called SAFARI 3000, because that sounds more exciting than The African International Rally, but you know what happens when you assume. You make make a monkey out of you and me.
I hope that one day I get to meet Stockard Channing. I am going to ask her about this monkey business.