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Here at Four Horsemen Films, we're dedicated to some of the very best and worst cinematic masterpieces you know, love, and despise. Think of us as Bad Movies for Bad People, or as a liaison to the inner sanctum of cinema. Or, just think of us as quick and entertaining reads. That's what Four Horsemen Films is all about.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fatty Drives the Bus (1999)

Fatty Drives the Bus (1999)

Written By: Mick Napier

Directed By: Mick Napier

Starring: Scot Robinson, Joe Bill, Ken Manthey, Dave Adler, Mike Coleman, Susan Messing

Country of Origin: United States of America

The Idea:
When I originally posted the poll to determine just what films would make it into reader request month, I thought including this Tromatic-gem (that’s right, it’s a Troma Team Release all over again) would be taken more as a joke and would bottom out in the voting. Thanks, everyone, for once again proving me wrong and making me review a movie that, by all accounts, should be totally unwatchable.

That said, Fatty Drives the Bus is the kind of movie that you can take something away from. Forget about the multi-million dollar success flicks you’ve seen in the past or plan to see soon. In fact, scrap all movies that both the Academy and the MPAA recommend. If you get the chance, take a seat, present an open mind, and be delighted at the wonder that is Fatty Drives the Bus.

This movie features no actors you’ve ever really heard of. Director Mick Napier’s other screen credits include: NOT A GOD DAMN THING. He’s done veritably nothing with a few writing credits on television shows not even the purest fans would watch. And, if that’s not enough, and as if you couldn’t feel anymore detached from this film from the onset, you get one of the most absurd and outstanding (as in out standing in the rain) plots in the history of cinema. Picture this: Satan sits in his lair, assuming that this day is just like any other. However, when he is informed that a bus full of tourists that was supposed to crash in Chicago has had its course altered because Jesus is in town, he becomes enraged and decides to pay a personal visit to the surface disguised as the bus tour guide. Jesus hears of this news and attempts to thwart the demon’s crusade towards annihilation throughout the course of the day. If that doesn’t sell you, stop reading right now.

Though I could spend all day telling you in detail about the passengers, rest assured that there is not a single character someone could not either identify with or pray gets smashed to bits by the climax. We’ve got a broken down scientist who worked on experiments with puppies, a pair of blissfully negligent parents, the world’s most abusive mother and her emotionally unprepared daughter as well as their cross-dressing girlfriend, a pair of post-modern schlock artists in it for their kicks, and, in case I neglected to mention anyone pivotal the whole shebang, a duo of guys who are optimistically idiotic. I tell you now, a stage adaptation leaves room for nearly a dozen desirable parts.

Anyway, the majority of the 90-minute movie is spent with sight gags, overdone jokes, and terrible filmmaking played intentionally for laughs. Seriously, this movie is about as low budget as it gets, complete with Ed Wood-esque re-cuts, reuse of footage, and visible crew or equipment. As the movie ambles all across the Windy City (literally, we get to see a great depiction of Chicago), we begin to wonder just what hand fate has dealt these souls that Satan is attempting to fill his quota with. Once we have a final confrontation brewing, the literal unthinkable happens.

Yes, Jesus and Satan do meet up just moments before imminent doom, and sit down to a friendly game of chess. The final five minutes of the movie interpret not only the outcome of the game, but the entirety of existence both fictional and non-fictional. Rather than spoil the whole damn thing for you, I’d rather allow you to sit back and enjoy this surprise twist with a keen sense of understanding and recollection that sometimes, this is what makes B-movies worth watching: they try harder, and are terribly charming all around.

Member of the crew who should’ve been fired: None. I refuse to acknowledge that given how poor everything was (and was intended to be) in this movie that anyone did their job any worse than anyone else. If anything, all members should be rewarded with promotions. BIG FAT PROMOTIONS.

Best Name in the Cast: Not that any name stands out here either, but just for argument’s sake, Matt Walsh does make an appearance in this movie before moving on to a career playing bit parts in almost all of the “Frat Pack” films. I guess that’s an accomplishment, right?

Quote of the Film: For the first time ever, we have a two-way tie!
“Good Morning, Satan! Want a donut?” -Jim, Satan’s humble assistant
“You know, most people fly to Heaven. But Fatty, he drives the bus.” -The Narrator

Final Thoughts: This review is shorter than most, and with good reason. I can’t review this movie with any serious analysis to speak of. Simply put, it’s a light and frothy romp through the inner city with a surprise moral hiding in the outskirts of the plot that lunges forward just when things can’t get anymore outrageous. Fatty Drives the Bus is the kind of movie you can watch over and over again and not get sick of the style it is made in. If the biggest directors in the world saw this movie, they’d react just like the normal folks in the crowd do. A simple tip of the cap and appreciation that, no matter how bad it may be, you can make a movie this well (or unwell) too. Without anything really witty to end on, I’d like to reiterate that “most people fly to Heaven. But Fatty, he drives the bus.”

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