Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hot Dog (1984) ***

Sports movies are a hit-or-miss proposition. Between the acting and the action, a lot can go wrong. However heavily the film focuses on the sport itself as opposed to the human drama, my opinion is that they have to get the sport right. “Hot Dog” doesn’t get much else right, but this movie really nails the skiing action.

The plot is standard ‘80’s sports drama. Fresh-faced skier Harkin Banks (Patrick Houser) picks up a sexy hitchhiker named Sunny (Tracy Smith) on his way to the big, international, freestyle skiing competition in Squaw Valley, CA. Once there Harkin is befriended by some happy-go-lucky, underdog skiers, and he makes an enemy of the reigning champion, asshole Austrian Rudi Garmisch (John Patrick Reger). The insipid plot continues from there, following the standard formula for these movies. What really makes the movie bad is not the formulaic plot, though, but the acting. It’s like Patrick Houser and Tracy Smith are competing to see who can act worse. Every actor in the movie sucks, with the possible exception of David Naughton, who plays an alcoholic former ski-champ who takes Harkin under his wing. Oh yeah, Shannon Tweed is in this, and while she can’t act either, she does look really good naked.

That brings up one other positive aspect of the movie, the nakedness. I didn’t keep a running count of the bare breasts, Joe Bob Briggs-style, but there’s a fair amount of soft-porn action to distract you from the bad acting.

Ultimately, though, the saving grace of “Hot Dog” is the skiing. They got a talented group of stunt skiers to lay down some seriously sweet extreme skiing. They blast down the backcountry chutes, go off cliffs, and rip up moguls, and it’s all genuine skiing. During the competition scenes, they even have an event called “ballet,” which is pretty much dancing down the slope. I had never seen this before, and it’s way cooler than you would think. I suppose some might ask, “Why not just watch a Warren Miller ski film?”, to which I would respond, “Have you ever seen Shannon Tweed getting her breasts soaped up in a giant tub in a Warren Miller movie?”

1 star for the acting, 5 stars for the skiing, so we’ll settle at 3 stars out of 5.

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