Hamburger…The Motion Picture

June 2, 2011

Not a great deal of time needs to be spent on Hamburger…The Motion Picture, except to note that it may be the only film ever set at the managerial training school for a fast-food company.

There’s nothing else original about Hamburger, which takes the usual dorky sex jokes and puts them in the milieu of, uh, hamburgers. There sure are a whole lot of hamburgers in this movie, which makes it immune to the complaints of the Truth in Advertising people, if no one else.

A clod (Leigh McCloskey), who can’t finish his college degree, enrolls at Burgerbuster University in search of an easy sheepskin—or cowhide, as the case may be.

A pair of variables come into play here. One, he has to get a degree, any degree, to receive a $250,000 inheritance. Two, he hasn’t been able to finish college before because women—especially school administrators—find him irresistible. He keeps getting expelled because he keeps getting discovered in compromising positions.

So, he enrolls at Burgerbuster U (“Bull Is Our Business”), where sex is forbidden but the dorms are co-ed. You can see the problems ahead.

Adding fat to the fire, the Burgerbuster’s founder has his wife (Randi Brooks) at the University, a statuesque lollapalooza whose subtle contours evoke memories of the Underdog balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Naturally, she inspires heavy-breathing in every undergraduate, and justifiably so.

Burgerbuster U also has students goose-stepping past huge papier-mâché burgers, a thick-necked drill sergeant (Dick Butkus) who likes to lock offenders into 6-foot plastic pickles and pour secret sauce on them, and a mad scientist (Chuck McCann) who feeds thousands of synthetic chicken nuggets to an increasingly fowl-mouthed student.

I laughed once, when a woman expired in her car while giving a mechanical pickle her food order at a Burgerbuster drive-in. The panicky foodserver runs to the manager and says, “There’s a dead woman in the drive-through lane.” The cool-headed manager replies, “Well, cancel her order.” It seemed funny at the time. You get desperate at a movie like this.

The other jokes revolve around anatomy and funny names for characters (“Victoria Gotbottom,” “Emmanuel Gherkin”). Aside from that, the jokes are bloody rare, and Hamburger certainly can’t be said to be well-done.

First published in the Herald, February 5, 1986

Yeah, that’s right—Underdog. You’re welcome. This movie says “Eighties” in giant neon letters, with its unsavory Porky’s backwash and second-tier cast (nothing against Dick Butkus, a childhood football favorite, or Chuck McCann, unavoidable rubber-faced comedian of umpteen TV shots). Disbelief is the operative viewing stance here, which I guess is better than nothing.

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