Barb Wire (1996)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Blindfold: Acts of Obsession


Black Cat

Barb Wire

Lava Lamp

Our rating: one LAVA® motion lamp.

Barb Wire
Pamela Anderson in the
breast performance of her career.
If you're going to go to the trouble of making a movie centered around a pair of breasts, we say: set your sights high! That's exactly what the makers of Barb Wire have done. Not only have they constructed a film showcasing Pamela Anderson, she of the grossly-enhanced mammaries and limited acting ability, but they've done it as a remake of Casablanca.

When we first heard that Barb Wire stole its story from one of Hollywood's greatest films, we figured the rip-off could only extend so far. We were right, but it extends a lot further than we dared expect. The film takes place in the "last free zone" of the United States, recently taken over by a Nazi-like congressional regime. There, Barb (Pamela Anderson Lee, in the, uh, titular role) runs a nightclub and engages in an occasional round of bounty-hunting to support her employees. Dutifully, a romantic figure from her past arrives with a new love, and that new love must be smuggled out of the country. Barb, of course, accidentally acquires exactly what they need to escape, and then must weigh her own interests against those of "the resistance."

Throw in a weaselly little guy (the dependable Clint Howard), a big fat guy, a corrupt-but-goodhearted cop, some trustworthy employees/friends, some resistance members, and a goose-stepping, screaming commandant with his goose-stepping, Nazi-uniformed goons, and you've got a movie that reminds you so much of Casablanca it's impossible to think of anything else. Then, the movie takes a turn to the silly and we're back in comfortable territory again.

Barb Wire
"Please excuse me now...
I'm off to audition for
a part in Springtime for Hitler."
Even though you would be hard pressed to tell this from anything in the movie, Barb Wire is a character who originally appeared in a short-lived series of books from Dark Horse Comics, who scored a major hit when their character of The Mask was translated to the big screen. Barb Wire is a good example of a comic book that has no real reason to made into a movie, and of a comic book movie with no particular connection to the book that spawned it. We wish that movie producers would stop making movies into comic books on the strength of having an interested star and a finished script; the star should be able to act and the script should be good.

Rumor has it that Pamela Anderson Lee Anderson turned down the lead role in a film called Hello, She Lied (later titled Miami Hustle) because she didn't want to do such gratuitous sex and nudity. Miami Hustle was later made with Kathy Ireland in the lead and not only was Hustle a better film than this one, but none of the sex or nudity involved Ireland! When it comes to picking roles, we're thinking that Pamela Anderson Lee Anderson Lee is a fork or two shy of a place setting. Suffice it to say that even in the rated version of Barb Wire, Pamela Anderson Lee Anderson Lee Anderson's uber-boobs could probably have been given a screen credit of their own. In fact, they were nominated as the Worst Screen Couple in that year's Razzie Awards.

About the only thing to recommend this film, other than the limited thrill of seeing the exposed body of a Barbie doll made flesh, are the action sequences. If nothing else, these filmmakers really know how to bust stuff up and make it look impressive. But even here the film is bankrupt for inspiration, as the climactic fight on top of a piece of construction equipment hoisted into the air by a large crane is lifted more less in whole from The Protector, one of Jackie Chan's early American efforts.

Also, films like this always give us hope that one day we might see one of our screenplays produced. We've got this great treatment for a remake of Citizen Kane, and we envision Arnold Schwarzenegger as the tycoon who also happens to go in for S&M. We call it Citizen Pain. Any Hollywood producers reading should e-mail us at the address below.

Review date: 07/11/1998

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