'Stone Cold,' 'Dice Rules' offer good, bad and ugly


May 20, 1991|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

Here's the bad news: Brian Bosworth will probably be a movie star.

And here's the good news: Andrew Dice Clay probably won't.

First the bad news. Bosworth hasn't yet learned to act and may never, but he's an imposing physical specimen with enough planes in his face to qualify him for adoration by camera. In "Stone Cold," his debut film -- name above the title, first time out -- he plays an Alabama cop with a track record for busting bikers who is recruited by the FBI to go undercover in Mississippi. His mission is to destroy a particularly loathsome motorcycle gang -- these guys are so mean that they blow away Baptist ministers for fun.

Most of the energy of the largely absurd film comes not courtesy of the somewhat inert Bosworth but from vivid turns by old pros Lance Henriksen and William Forsythe, No. 1 and No. 2 bad boys in the tribe of leather-caparisoned, Harley-mounted sociopaths called The Brotherhood. In fact, director Craig R. Baxley has very good luck with biker culture: He takes us into this squalid, excessively violent but undeniably fascinating world without a lot of fuss. We're simply there, here it is, like it or not. Nobody will like it; everybody will believe it.

Bosworth has some spontaneity and a certain modest professional demeanor but, like pioneers Schwarzenegger and Seagal, he's most vividly felt when he's kicking bootie, and Baxley, who broke into the big time with the equally ridiculous but secretly enjoyable "I Come In Peace" (starring Dolph Lundgren; so to Baxley, Bosworth is probably a step up), is a good action director and knows how to spotlight his big oaf.

The movie really topples over into absolute nonsense in its last few minutes, offering a gun battle in a courthouse more violent than any engagement fought in the Persian Gulf and producing a larger body count. It includes a gag in which a flying motorcycle brings down a Huey helicopter. Not even the Viet Cong thought of that.

Still, serviceable debut or not, Bosworth's movie career is very irritating. The reason is that he never really did anything except wear a funny haircut and promote himself with the energy of Madonna. His pro football career was a massive phlop-and-a-half, and therefore never validated his physical toughness. In point of fact, he spent most of his time in the NFL on his butt or on the bench. When he retired, most people asked, "From what?" His movie career, taking as its a priori his toughness, therefore feels like a cheat.

Now the good news: "Dice Rules," the Andrew Dice Clay concert film, is unlikely to compel its repulsive star to further heights.

I like the humor of outrage, as worked by such culture heroes as Lenny Bruce, the early Woody Allen and even the now repugnant Don Rickles. At its best, it's funny-dangerous, riding the ragged edge, saying things in the dialectic of comedy that could not be said without a punch line. But Clay isn't funny; he's just dangerous.

His shtick is rancid hostility at all things not himself, as expressed in the crudest of vocabularies. This isn't a movie, it's a cry for help. Among the things that frighten this poor man: women, women and women. Andrew, thank you for sharing with us.

The film is an absurdity. It begins with an endless day-in-the-life routine after the faux-innocent style of early Jerry and late Pee-Wee. Funny? Not for one second. Then it lurches clumsily into an hour of the Dice concert experience, which shouldn't be wished upon a terrorist or a child molester. After all, they are people too.

Twentieth Century Fox famously refused to release this film last summer, a small mercy that made the hot weather bearable and almost washed away the scuzzy taste of "Ford Fairlane," which, rTC unfortunately, they did release. Now "Dice Rules" is being distributed by an outfit called "Seven Arts." I wonder which of the seven arts they think it is.

The curiosity here, for connoiseurs of cultural decadence, is that in odd ways Clay and Boz are the same man and certainly speak to the same audience: They represent blue-collar rage and scream with reactionary angst against the nation that America is trying to become, however slowly. They seem to yearn -- the Boz implicitly, the Diceman nauseatingly explicitly -- for the golden-olden days, when everybody knew his place, and the man's place was always on top.

'Dice Rules'

Starring Andrew Dice Clay.

Directed by Jay Dubin.

Released by Seven Arts.

Rated NC-17.

0 stars

'Stone Cold'

Starring Brian Bosworth and Lance Henriksen.

Directed by Craig R. Baxley.

Released by Columbia Pictures.

Rated R.

** 1/2

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