Picasso Trigger

Lava Lamp
Our rating: one lava lamp.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Picasso Trigger
Four of the biggest stars in Picasso Trigger.
Recently, we realized that our review list was devoid of films by b-movie maker Andy Sidaris. Sidaris is a notorious b-grade skin flick director, and this is an unfortunate omission on our part -- especially considering how many times we have dumped on Charles Band and Albert Pyun.

Sidaris' films, which he writes and directs, follow a simple formula. Sidaris casts a bunch of well-endowed women and muscle-bound guys, and then places them in what is allegedly a world of action and intrigue. The main thing that sets Sidaris' films apart is that he casts former Playboy Playmates, although his more recent pictures have featured former Penthouse Pets as well. The law of diminishing returns is in operation there, we guess.

The back of the video box for Picasso Trigger boasts that the film features seven Playboy Playmates. This is true. As a matter of fact, the seven Playboy Playmates account for every prominent woman in the film. For the record, the former Playmates in Picasso Trigger are Dona Speir (March 1984), Hope Marie Carlton (July 1985), Roberta Vasquez (November 1984), Cynthia Brimhall (October 1985), Kym Malin (May 1982), Patty Duffek (May 1984), and Liv Lindeland (January 1971). Chances are, this is the only information that is important to most people renting this film.

Picasso Trigger
Travis prepares to enforce the
Americans with Disabilities Act
in a major way.
Picasso Trigger begins with the assassination of a prominent businessman/mafioso in Paris. His shady dealings catch up with him as he is shot to death on the steps of a museum to which he has just donated a painting -- of a Picasso Triggerfish. (Oh! the pathos!) The filmmakers quickly cut to the waters of Hawaii, where secret agents Dona (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton), wake up from a night's sleep wearing what has to be really uncomfortable lingerie. As if that weren't enough to convince us that this isn't an episode of Masterpiece Theater, the women then strip, shower, and stuff themselves into revealing wet suits. All of this is in preparation for some work for "the Agency," an undefined secret organization. We understand that in later Andy Sidaris films the Agency is identified as the Legion to Ensure Total Harmony And Law. Ugh.

In any case, the ladies' boat is blown up by a remote-controlled model airplane packed with explosives. It turns out that a bad guy, named Miguel Ortiz, is wiping out Agency operatives because he blames the Agency's boss for the death of his brother. The Agency responds by assigning a bunch of its employees to an operation about which we know nothing, other than the fact it starts at precisely noon on Sunday. The agents are all big-breasted women and big-muscled men, none of whom own a single outfit that covers an entire torso.

The human interest (using both terms loosely) in the movie is provided by agents Travis (Steve Bond) and Pantera (Roberta Vasquez), who knew each other in high school and decide to rekindle their romance. Amazingly, the stupendously-endowed Vasquez never gets naked in this film. This is akin to casting Harrison Ford in a movie as a mute with a bag over his head.

Picasso Trigger
An inside look at the Sidaris casting process.
That kind of hoodwinking would not be unwarranted for most of the "actors" in this flick; we daresay it would be an improvement. After all, we came to see these people undress and wield guns, not slaughter their lines. Not that there's much to slaughter; the innuendo-packed script makes porn films look downright intellectual. Still, everybody wants to be a DeNiro and we get to suffer the consequences. Even in scenes where we've been told the ladies are about to do a Vegas strip act that is "risque, really racy," they remain stubbornly clothed and dribble moronic dialogue through their lips as if an Oscar award is waiting just offstage. It's enough to make a decent pervert cry.

There is nudity, of course, but all of it is rather brief and strangely coy. All of the flesh-baring occurs in interludes unconnected to the main action, which is a rather bizarre decision for the filmmakers to make. If we're going to see an exploitation movie with nudity and violence, we would like them at the same time, thank you very much. The model here should be movies like Angel of Destruction, starring Maria Ford. That one has a great sequence where a topless Ford beats a bunch of guys to death with her martial arts, uh, skills. It also contained a scene where she is forced to do strip routine in a club or else the bad guy will.... Frankly, we forget what the bad guy was going to do. But Ford did strip! It's a pity to say that any filmmaker could learn from Angel of Destruction, but in Sidaris' case, it's true.

Picasso Trigger
Rumble in the Bronx this ain't.
We always knew that Sidaris operated on a shoestring budget, but for a supposed superspy movie, Picasso Trigger is laughable. We picture the director moving from vacation spot to vacation spot (the film moves from Paris to Hawaii to Texas and back), wondering to himself: "Hmmmmmm... what vehicle can I rent for my next chase?" By the story's end he even manages to wedge a one-man hovercraft into the proceedings. All of that travel and vehicle money takes away from what might have been spent on decent sets and props.

The poorly-made props might have been forgivable had the expensive chase scenes been any good. Nope, he fails in that too. The most grotesque example is the boat chase down a convenient river, during which Pantera actually manages to "take a shortcut" and out-maneuver two speedboats in a flat-bottomed barge. Sure, she then whips out a pretty cool quick-assemble rifle and blows someone away with it, but c'mon -- a barge? Taking a shortcut? Down a river?

Speaking of props, there is a scene where the agents get some supposedly cool gadgets from "the Professor." One of these is a packet of explosives that attaches to a boomerang. Why this is any better than a normal grenade is never made clear, since Dona (or maybe it was Taryn, we couldn't keep track) throws it in a straight line at a target a few yards from her. Next we have the explosive remote control car that Taryn (or was it Dona?) uses to blow up the bad guys' house in the film's climax. Two observations. If that surfboard hadn't been sitting just so on the porch, the car would have been useless. And if they wanted to blow apart a house from far away, wouldn't a bazooka have been simpler?

Picasso Trigger
The high tech ballistic weapon crutch,
which has a control panel that looks
suspiciously like a three dollar calculator.
Finally, there's the one most ludicrous things we've ever seen in a movie, the multiple ordinance balistic weapon diguised as -- a crutch with matching leg cast. So Travis, Agent of L.I.M.P., goes hobbling into the bad guy's house. He sits down opposite the bad guy, and immediately reveals that the crutch is a weapon. And then he has to load the crutch. What is the point of that? Why disguise the weapon as a crutch? Let alone an unloaded crutch? Wouldn't it have been easier for him to just stuff a pistol in his jeans?

Wait, it gets better. It turns out Travis does have a pistol stuffed into his jeans. You big dummy! Just whip it out and shoot the guy! By this point, it becomes obvious that the mysterious operation the agents were trying to pull off is just to kill everybody in this house. Why not call in an air strike, forgoing all the women and crutches and hovercrafts and dirtbikes and remote control vehicles? It would have been less expensive and less risky to just go Apocolypse Now on the house.

If Picasso Trigger were funny, it could be a parody. If it had better action scenes, it could be a James Bond rip-off. If it had more nudity, it could be soft core. As it stands, it's a gutless piece of non-entertainment without enough direction to be any one of those things. Early in Picasso Trigger, the grammatically-challenged Travis tells us that "Living good is the best revenge." Sidaris' revenge is double-edged: not only is he living well, he's making movies like this in the process.

Review date: 3/9/99

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