Sweet Sixteen

What terrors are unleashed when a girl turns…Sweet Sixteen?

More like Sweet Twenty-Seven. Horror starlets are  like Mexican prizefighters…it’s hard to get an accurate birth-date.

There’s a new girl arrival in some hole-in-the-wall hick town. She meets a couple of guys in a sh*t-kicker bar with fluorescent Bud signs and leaves with one of ’em. The guy says, “I’m Johnny. And this is my truck” as if the vehicle was going to engage them in conversation. Talk about effortless charm. Eat your heart out Cary Grant.

They go to the town’s equivalent of make-out point and she gets spooked before either of them can get their pants off at this, the site of an ancient Indian burial ground. They puff a little weed and think about what they’ll tell the folks about how they spent the evening (the girl suggests they were at “the library” but this burg don’t have one. Which explains a lot). After they part ways, Johnny is stabbed to death repeatedly in the chest by an unseen assailant, and absolutely nobody misses him (oh wait, that’s an editorial comment).

The town sheriff, Burke, is summoned. He’s played by South Carolina genre legend Bo Hopkins (The Wild Bunch/American Graffiti) He pokes around, and gets some assistance from his dilettante teen daughter about the finer points of police work (she’s eminently qualified being into mystery novels all. Slasher fans will know her as Dana Kimmell who plays Chris Higgins in Friday the 13th Part III, who splits open Jason’s head with in axe).

Some of the bigoted townies (including Don Stroud, Search and Destroy/House by the Lake) pin the blame on a couple of er, “red”-herring Native Americans.

Tepid stuff.

Sweet Sixteen is a pretty procedural snore-fest and not the under-seen gem the reviewer had hoped. And playing “hey, isn’t that_________?” wears thin pretty quick.

**1/2 (out of 5)

Shotgun

A weird hybrid of Don’t Answer the Phone! and Lethal Weapon, Shotgun is an inept cop buddy pic which should be booked for employing every cop cliche there is.

The title character is Shotgun Jones, who should be bedecked in furs and running around Harlem, but who is instead, a towering freckled Caucasian who favors pea-coats even in the stifling heat of Los Angeles.

Jones and African-American partner Max (Murtaugh to his Riggs) are tailing a “basher,” a guy who’s been giving ladies of the evening a rough go. In fact, it’s worse than that. He’s beating some to death.

And he’s getting away with it by employing what should be said is a very weird gambit: paying a guy to bring the girls to a fleabag motel to get the police off his scent. This is a good idea in theory, but not when your accomplice looks like you! This is one of the more baffling aspects of the very bewildering Shotgun.

But this isn’t a straightforward procedural. You see, Internal Affairs has a bone to pick with a cop who PLAYS BY HIS OWN RULES (caps for the obvious cop cliche). They set him up in a sting, and an angry Jones beats the snot out of an IA colleague with a night stick. To get a sense of how seriously LAPD takes rogue policemen, look no further than Jones’ punishment: a six month suspension (or, roughly one day for every day the poor bastard was stuck in the hospital).

Lucky for Jones, there’s an avenue for hotheads who’ve run afoul of police procedures: bounty hunting. Just imagine you’ve jumped bail and you’ve got the Geico Caveman and Barry Gibb’s illegitimate Jesus son bearing down on you.

Shotgun is an absolute joy, an odd mix of weird sub-plots (Max’s wife has a thing for Jones and Max is way too easy-going about it) and marble-mouthed meathead banter. There’s also cochlea-piercing Van Halen  guitar noodling that is so deafening it’ll have viewers diving for the remote.

And for action fans, you’ve got choppers, explosions, fisticuffs, ruthless drug dealers, and amazing montages.

Essential GED-level action fare.

****1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of Shotgun!]