My name is Tallulah. Well, no, it's Gringo. To tell the truth, it isn't even that. Let's just call me Captain Mystery. Maybe one day I will stitch myself a nice outfit with a big letter 'M' emblazoned across it, and go out solving crime under my Wild West-inspired pseudonym. Imagine the headlines if I rumbled something the local doughnut-eating, brain-sapped policemen couldn't solve! I think they'd read something like "Captain Mystery Solves Mystery!" which would be absolutely fantastic. The more I think of it, the more I'm tempted to stop typing this review and get myself a sewing kit. But then that means spending money, and it's already been established a few reviews ago that I live in a box and have three cents to my name. Guess the superhero plans are out. It's a shame, because I was really getting into the whole crime-busting mood. And now I have to do an about-face (whilst trying to bring this paragraph back from the tangent I've taken it off on) and write a review of something involving a wheelin' dealin' gangster.
An introduction sung by someone, somewhere helpfully tells us that the title character Bugsy Malone is a "sinner, candy-coated". Oh no, Scott Baio! They are going to dip you in a vat of hot liquid candy and then send you to hell! Run! Run for your stupid, stupid little life! Instead, he enters Fat Sam's Speakeasy. How do I know the name of the place? A gaggle of floozies sing a song giving away the club's name. Now, it might just be me, but I think people might have been a bit more cautious in the era of Prohibition. I don't believe it'd be a good idea if a policeman on patrol happened to walk by a seemingly innocent building (oh those rascally buildings!) and heard a vague shout from inside that it was in fact "Fat Sam's Grand Slam Speakeasy". Still, this didn't put the all-singing, all-dancing fools off. I was convinced one of the girls sang "There's a politician, sitting by the kitchen, said he caught his fingers in the whirlpool he was fishing in", which struck me (in the face!) as being both bizarre and amusing. Joe thought they sang "Daddy caught his fingers in the what you was wishing it".
Sadly, truth is less exciting than fiction and it turns out the whirlpool was actually a "well he was wishin' in" and daddy wasn't involved at all. I hate those stupid idiots at Fat Sam's for disappointing me like that. Evidently feeling the same way, Bugsy leaves the club and on his way - after getting a beating - meets Leroy. Leroy is fat and says little. But he can throw a mean punch. And he is fat. What do you do with someone who can throw a mean punch? Well, if they're called Mike Tyson you look on in horror as they rape their way around the world (allegedly). If they're called Leroy, a guy called Bugsy Malone takes him to the local boxing club to see if he's up to scratch. The boxing club is in the opposite direction to Tallulah's home. I know I've not mentioned her yet, so I'll do it now. Played by Jodie Foster, Tallulah spends the entire movie arguing with Bugsy and constantly threatening to leave the questionable interpretation of 1920's New York which the movie is set in. And that's her role summed up in a couple of short sentences.
Back to Leroy, and when he arrives at boxing club, for no reason the kids assembled break into song. Yet their singing voices are clearly provided by people who have passed puberty. At the most they're dissimilar to the voices of the kid actors. At worst - and this is more common - they just jar with the image being put across. Example in point is the irritating little cleaner that hangs around Fat Sam's Speakeasy. He breaks into a whining, miserable, dreadful song called Tomorrow. The guy actually singing it sounds about 140 years old, and even the kid seems confused during the song as he prattles on about "Tomorrow being grey". The best thing about the young actors, old voice conflict is that on the set, the director probably didn't have the music, so would have been filming near-silence, with a bunch of kids miming to a song they didn't know. If only I could have been there. I would have sat Scott Baio down and shouted "STOP MAKING BAD TELEVISION SHOWS!" repeatedly. Would he have listened to me? Who knows and who - quite rightly - cares? Someone gets a punch in the face at the end of the boxing song, and that really is all that matters.
Realising there's been very little in the way of interesting story development, the movie sorts itself out and introduces Dandy Dan. Dan is a precocious little shite; he has bad facial hair - especially for a twelve-year-old - and swans around a ridiculously big house boasting about finishing Fat Sam off...for good! Apparently the weapon of choice back in 1920 was crème pies. One of those in the face and you're on your way out. Dan has put his easy-earned money to good use and developed the next big thing - guns that fire creme pies! He's sure to take over Fat Sam's empire now! This develops into the backbone of the movie; the fact that Dan has the guns, and Sam wants them. Magic. Bugsy gets a gang together, more songs are sung, and Scott Baio manages to be 50% less annoying than he would turn out to be in his later years. Jodie Foster made Taxi Driver around the same time as Bugsy Malone, and if you want to know which is the better movie...well, I don't recall Robert De Niro trying to steal a 'splurge gun', if that helps.
A lot of other stuff happens. I know that seems a pretty blasé approach to have to this movie, but you're not the one typing this review and wondering why you're not doing anything better. Even more songs take place, Leroy punches someone, Bugsy does a lot of running around and the girls all manage to be the most miserable people...ever! Seriously, not a single female character in the movie seems to be having a good time. I bet a vast majority of the actresses involved were typical angst-ridden teens, dying their hair black, listening to the 1970's equivalent of Linkin Park and lying through their front teeth by saying things like "I wish I could, like, end it all, like, right now!" whilst looking forward to the day when webcams would be invented. Anyway, Fat Sam fulfills his dreams, receiving his own stash of splurge guns. And when both the good guys and bad guys are in a position to fight back, guess what that means? Showdown time!
And so we get to the conclusion of the movie. Dandy Dan's gang put down their croquet sets for long enough to launch a SWAT-style assault on Fat Sam's Speakeasy. This essentially involves kicking the door to the club open and opening fire with the supposedly fatal guns. Yet they no longer seem to do any damage. A few faces are amusingly hit by the guns, but the victims just fire back with pies and the like. This leads to an insane food fight to rival that near the end of Blazing Saddles. When the piano player gets smacked in the back of the head by a low-flying dessert, he hits a few solitary notes out and causes silence amongst the assembled misfits. He starts a little ditty telling everyone "we could have been anything that we wanted to be". At first the punters are silent. They're probably all in shock at the fact he looks like he's singing but the words are coming from someone else. But then they all break into song. And that's it. A lot of singing, too much Scott Baio and 90 minutes that could have been put to more productive use.
It's not that I hate Bugsy Malone. It's okay as entertainment. And in case I've come across as overly cynical about the whole thing, I'll end on a relatively positive note. This movie has two brief scenes that really stand out for me. The first is when Leroy joins Bugsy's gang on a raid at a factory. Spying an open box containing a gun, he takes the strands of hay the gun has been packed in and pulls it over his head. With a makeshift wig in place, he camps it up and sings "My name is Tallulah", sounding more female than whoever it was that provided the singing voice for Jodie Foster's character. The second exceptional scene involves the aforementioned annoying cleaner at Fat Sam's. I'm guessing the director Alan Parker was fed up with the character by the end of the movie, because in one swift, blissful move the cleaner gets a huge pie right in his whining, complaining face. I am such a happy person.
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