Heroes come in a variety of different flavours, some have special powers, others have an unflinching desire to complete their noble quest. Yet, in the mid-80s, Hollywood action stars took their brawn to 11, armed to the teeth with heavy assault machinery that could mow down countless baddies, and their numbers were multiplying. In 1987, comedian Bill Crosby undertook a mission, to craft a hero that could also use his wits to outmatch an assailant, or at least find mirth in the way the tide was turning, in Leonard Part 6.
Leonard Parker is an extraordinary man, an asset to the C.I.A. whose five previous adventures have been classified for national security reasons. He has taken his well-earned retirement by opening a restaurant. His retirement is short-lived as a spate of animal killings (as in animals killing humans) has forced him to return. This assignment couldn’t come at a worse time as his personal life is also somewhat of a mess. Considering his daughter is dating a man, one so many years Leonard’s senior, and the relationship with Leonard’s wife is anything but straightforward. The audience is in for an adventure, as Leonard attempts to balance his hectic personal life and a deadly case of vegetarianism.
Those of you who know your soundtracks might recognise Without You by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, a song that did go on to be considered a success (à la Spy Hard). But the song’s success is beside the point here. As you can ascertain from the title, the film is trying to spoof the multi-part action films that had become prevalent, with a smidgen of James Bond in there too. As such, audiences can come to expect an egregious arsenal packed full of murderous toys, yet Leonard Part 6 is almost uninterested in any of that. Offering plenty of absurd action sequence, that should provide a giggle. Focusing on his many flashy suits, and his attempts to get back into fighting shape, and fix his family, while using his wits, and a sausage, to disarm the vegetarian cell.
The narration by Leonard’s butler is an interesting addition, and this film kind of buries the lead somewhat with his limited screen time. Maybe they were saving his character for the sequel? But regarding comedy, Leonard Part 6 takes its premise to the nines, the evil vegetarian terrorist cell is comically over the top. Audiences are treated sequences involving ostriches with rocket launchers, and frogs killing car drivers. With apparent pot-shots at his former co-stars, there is humour to be found on and off the celluloid. It was well known of Cosby’s preference for Coca-Cola, and the film’s production company owners make for some strong bedfellows.
Leonard part 6 is an interesting film, one about family, duty, right and wrong et al. While it delivers what it sets out to do, I’m not sure that it is worthy of its infamous reputation. The concept has promise, maybe the audiences in the late 80s expected more. The same could also be said for Ghost Dad, offering a fun parody that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you can accept it, Leonard Part 6 boldly goes on its mission of comedy.
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