Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)
Film review by: Witney Seibold
I’m not sure if I can really review a film like “Hamburger: The Motion Picture.” It’s a very, very, very odd affair, involving a premise that is not the least bit anchored in any reality. It seems to follow certain comedy tropes of the 1980s (a cast of various eccentrics working toward a common goal, á la “Police Academy”), but the common goal is so strange, and the process so unbelievable, that I’m not sure if I can say if it worked or not. I suppose I laughed, but that’s not necessarily an indicator that the film is funny.
“Hamburger” is about Russell (Leigh McCloskey), a 21-year-old man who is so very sexy that every single woman he meets wants to jump him bones. He’s been kicked out of several colleges because he has had sex with various students, professors, and we even get to see a school psychologist fall for his wiles (“Rude conduct, lewd conduct, nude conduct”). We have to take it for granted that women want him, as he never even tries to seduce them; they just sort of undress in his presence.
Angry, Russell’s father gives him one final chance at school before he is written out of his family’s inheritance. The school he finds? You’ll never guess. He enrolls in Busterburger University, which is a surreal mix of military school, college, and fast-food training. The students are only allowed to eat a certain brand of fast food, are not allowed to leave campus, sleep on giant hamburgers (I swear I’m not making that up), and, most notably to Russell, are not allowed to have sex. The head professor is a drill instructor with a spatula (and played by Dick Butkus). When students misbehave, they are locked into fiberglass mascot prisons, and coated with torture sauce. This premise seems like it might work for a particularly enjoyable children’s book (If “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” can get made, why not a hamburger university?), but the film’s “R” rating betrays its intentions; this is clearly a raunchy sex comedy in the “Animal House” vain. Only way weirder. We are, however, treated to a lot of gratuitous nudity.
Anyway, the students at Busterburger U are a rogue’s gallery of oddballs. We have the fat guy who gives himself severe shocks every time he is hungry. We have the nun (Barbara Whinnery) looking to get a job in a burger joint (the film, mercifully, does not just use her for nun abuse jokes). There is the nerd character (Jack Blessing) who is such a goody-goody brownnoser, that he volunteers to be genetically altered. He lays an egg in one scene. There is the fiery Latina Sandinista (Maria Richwine) who talks about liberating her unnamed country… with berugermaking skills… somehow. There’s the flack-spewing pop star (Chip McAllister) who must go to Busterburger U to work off his community service. And, most notably, there’s Russell’s roommate, a horny Guido named Fred (Sandy Hackett) who can think of nothing but having sex with Mrs. Vunk (a surprisingly game Randi Brooks), the wife of BU’s founder (Charles Tyner).
Russell begins to have a chaste affair with Mr. Vunk’s daughter (Debra Blee), but has to sneak of school grounds with Fred in order to see her. There’s a scene in a Chinese restaurant where the two of them have escaped campus, and are forced to hide under the Vunk’s table to escape the watchful eye of their drill instructor. Fred performs cunnilingus on Mrs. Vunk. It’s rare that a raunch comedy of any stripe gives such loving attention to cunnilingus.
Eventually our cadre of soon-to-graduate burgermakers is given a final that is sabotaged. But it all works out in the end.
This film has weird views of American fast food, doesn’t deal with any of the details of food preparation in the least realistic way, and takes place in this strange parallel universe in which military burger academies not only exist, but are choked with desperate students who need to graduate. The film’s opening and closing credits feature a theme song that you will be singing for months.
HAMBÜGAZ! FOR UH-MER-IH-KAAHH!!!!