Rod Steele (2001)

REVIEWS - Movie Reviews

There have been umpteen jillion parodies of James Bond, the most famous of which are the "Matt Helm" movies starring Dean Martin in the sixties. (Of course, some would say that one of the official Bonds, "Casino Royale," is itself a parody of the whole series.) I can't say I've watched every single one of em, but the funniest for my pesos is "Rod Steele: 0014," which is one of those strange little sleepers that turned up on late night cable and is now being officially released five years later.

In fact, this is part of the "Click" series, which may be the most obscure film genre in the history of the medium.  Producer Alain Siritzky made SIX--count 'em--SIX movies featuring an electronic gizmo that looks like a combination of a big-
screen-TV remote control and an especially complicated cell phone, and when you point and press, everybody in the cast takes their clothes off and has sex. (Readers of this column will recognize "The Ultimate Attraction," reviewed two months ago, as another in the series.)

Yes, I said six.

I don't know what number this one is, but at some point they decided to carry the whole Click Concept into the world of international secret agents. The writer/director, Rolfe Kanefsky, is best known in the B movie world for "There's Nothing Out There," a parody of horror movies done five full years before "Scream" that's become something of a cult favorite. But he outdid himself with this script, which had me on the ceiling. (Any movie can put me on the floor.)

When Rod Steele reports for duty, cutbacks have affected the secret service so drastically that he's compelled to meet "P" ("O" is not available) in a parking lot, where he's given an array of budget-conscious gizmos like tennis shoes ("to comfort your feet in the event you have to run"), a pen that shoots--ink, a toothbrush, an alarm clock ("so that you won't oversleep"), and, of course, a boxy remote control that fires paralyzer darts.  What makes it funny is Robert Donovan, as Rod Steele, Secret Agent 0014, and his dead-on Roger Moore impersonation. William Knight is also hysterical with his stuffy officious English-butleresque "P." And as Steele says on departing, "There's
nothing better than having a good P." (Kanefsky never lets a pun go unexploited.)

The very funny title sequence has a breathy female Shirley Bassey type singing Rod's theme song ("Protect your giraffe . . .from Rod Steele") while sixties-style silhouette dancers cavort across the screen, Steele does silhouette jumping jacks, and the parody action montage disintegrates into waving hand puppets.

The rest of the movie flits back and forth between Prague and Monte Carlo, as Steele and his frequently-disrobed sidekick "Bell," better known as 0013, try to infiltrate the lair of the diabolical Tangerina, first seen lounging Nastassia Kinski-style
with an anaconda draped around her nekkid body. Tangerina is brainwashing hookers all over the world and training them to collect the sperm of powerful men so she can clone them into her personal stud army.

This is one of those sex-scene-every-ten-minutes made-for-cable specials, but unlike the run of the genre, the dialogue is very funny, and Donovan makes the whole thing work with his addled constipated send-up of Bond. (Rod Steele never removes his tuxedo, even in the shower.)

And, by the way, the babes aren't half bad either.

Four dead bodies. Fifty-two breasts. Exploding rubber ducky.  Alarm clock to the noggin. Beefcake bodyguard sex-toy duel.  Multiple aardvarking. Strip Seven-card Stud. Gratuitous Prince of Denmark sex scene. Deadly calliope music. One orgy. Kung Fu.Headbutt Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Elizabeth Danko, for singing the title song "Protect Your Giraffe from Rod Steele"; William Knight, as the fussy low-budget "P"; Robert Donovan, as the goofball James Bond sendup, for saying "I'd like a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, with a touch of lemon and one green olive on a wooden toothpick, preferably imported from somewhere in the orient"; Delphine Pacific, as the under-appreciated Miss Pennyworth, who pours vodka all over her body and says "Drinks are on me"; Michelle Bauer, as the flouncy underpaid Czech bordello madam; Sita Thompson, as the curvy secret agent who screams "I'm pumping answers out of him!"; De'Ann Power, as the cackling villainess with a pet anaconda; Jacqueline Lovell, as the black-leather hottie sent to capture Steele; and Rolfe Kanefsky, for doing things the drive-in way.

Four stars. Joe Bob says check it out.