“Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury” has an awesome premise to go with the awesome title. The concept is that back in 1990, a studio head put his ten year old son, Saint James St. James, in charge of a movie about a Viet Nam vet who returns home to discover that Mexicans had taken all the pool cleaning jobs. The Motion Picture Academy deemed it so racist, so vile and so thought provoking that it was banned from being released, (except in Germany). After thousands signed an online petition, the Academy is allowing Saint James to screen the movie as long as he takes out any scenes of witchcraft and non-supervised boating activities. Included in this special screening is key interviews with Saint James and others who made this movie.
What I just described could not begin to prepare you for the insanity of this movie. On the one level, we have dead on satire of the action films of the 80’s. There is the overt racism, the random gratuitous nudity and the not-gay-at-all homoerotica. On the other level, the interviews and comments from Saint James form a second story of crazy as you hear about the time that the star set the boom guy on fire and why exactly was there a clown dream sequence? The answer involves handjobs. Not a moment goes by where something insane is not happening on screen.
You may have noticed that Kevin Sorbo and Danny Trejo are in this film. Your eyes do not deceive you. Sorbo plays action star, Jan Van Hammer with all the cheese and patriotic fury of the 80’s. I have to revise my opinion of Sorbo’s acting ability because it takes real balls to play such an offensive character. The racism that babbles out of Hammer’s mouth will offend and horrify. The same goes for Danny Trejo who plays a pool cleaning kingpin who loudly proclaims, “My ancestors did not sneak into this country so that the whites can clean their own pools.”
Some people have compared this movie to Blaxpoitation parody movie, Black Dynamite. I think that is an unfair comparison. See, Blaxpoitation films were awesome and Black Dynamite was a tribute to the awesome. Poolboy takes aim at the rather loathsome 80’s action movie genre and gives it the butt-fucking it deserves. You might think Poolboy is over the top but my guess is that you haven’t seen one of the low budget 80’s action movies in awhile. Those movies were more racist than your average Tea Party Klan meeting. Poolboy is not a tribute movie, it is an indictment movie. The fact that it was “created” by a ten year old director tells you everything the real movie creators think about the genre.
A better comparison might be Machete. In that movie, a Mexican day laborer is hired to assassinate a racist senator. Shit gets complicated and over the top but at the heart of the movie is a tale of rich white oppression on Mexican poor. Well, that and knives and hot chicks. Still, it tells a story about racism using action movie tropes. Poolboy does the same thing except they are telling it from the point of view of the oppressors.
I watch a lot of shitty movies. I have seen quite a few movies that pretend to be shitty movies for laughs but end up being even shittier because they are boring. Poolboy is that rare awesome movie that pretends to be a shitty movie but is actually ten times more entertaining and ten times more thoughtful than the shitty movies it mocks. I was never bored because the crazy was non-stop ad always funny. I want to see a hundred more movies from Saint James St. James.
I give it Five out of Five Pam Griers.