Boy, is there a lot to say about Leonard Part 6. In general, failed comedies are some of the hardest movies to sit through. They have one primary purpose: to draw laughs. If they aren’t doing that, they aren’t going to be saved by any other aspect of the movie, such as how a bad action movie might be saved by an impressively hammy villain. Leonard Part 6 is a rare exception in my opinion: it absolutely fails to get the laughs it aims for, but I genuinely enjoyed sitting through it. The movie was incompetently written and executed in such a way that I was in a state of awe through most of the film, which is better state than I had expected. There were points that I laughed, but it was either at the absurdity of the plot, the overacting, or the low quality of the effects every time. Regardless, I was able to sit through the movie easier than most of the Bottom 100 films I’ve been through so far.
When people have asked me if I have run into any pleasant surprises in the IMDb Bottom 100, this is usually the one movie that I mention. I have described it as akin to Douglas Adams’ “Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, if Adams had been a moron. There is an absurd element to the movie that has potential, but none of it is ultimately clever or capable of producing genuine laughter. For example, there are a number of instances in which Leonard (Bill Cosby) attempts to reconnect with his ex-wife. During these segments, the wife oddly covers Cosby in food (spaghetti if I recall correctly). It isn’t funny and it doesn’t make sense, but for some reason the movie plays it off like it should be hilarious. The situation is strange and unexpected, as are most of the happenings in the plot, but they aren’t funny beyond their inherent oddness. I found myself spending most of the movie wondering “what the hell is happening here?”, but I will say that I was never tempted to turn it off. It was a strange ride, but not one that I particularly regret taking.
The acting throughout the movie is very much constrained by the poor writing, but there are a few stand-outs. Joe Don Baker has a role as Leonard’s former boss, but he only shows up occasionally throughout the movie. His character is mostly there to catalyze the plot, but he manages to pull off a pretty entertaining sleazeball G-man despite limited screen time. Bill Cosby, who plays the lead, is probably one of the most forgettable people in the movie. Despite being a producer 0n the film, it doesn’t seem like he really wants to be in it. Given that he later disavowed the movie in post-production and has actively prevented it from getting a television release, he clearly isn’t a fan after the fact either. The villains (extreme animal rights activists, by the way) are pretty memorably hammy, but my personal favorite performances are by Leonard’s unexplained Jeeves-like butler and his nonsensical, vaguely eastern-European psychic consult. Neither character is necessary in the film at all, and pretty much only exist to make the movie that much stranger.
The plot to this movie is a bit difficult to explain. The movie starts with an assassination carried out by a rainbow trout, which is later explained as the action of a terrorist organization that has discovered how to mind control animals. This gets more convoluted as the plot develops, because the terrorists are animal rights activists. Why would extreme animal rights activists enslave animals to do their bidding? They seem to imply that this is going to liberate the animals in some way, but that is some confused logic that I don’t want to delve into. What is more important and perplexing is that vegans apparently explode into sawdust when exposed to raw meat in this universe. Yeah.
In any case, Bill Cosby’s Leonard is a retired super-agent who has apparently become extremely wealthy from doing covert government missions. His former employers are forced to turn to him to deal with the terrorist threat, and hijinks ensue as we follow Leonard through his mission. There is unexpected ballet, CGI ostrich action, a car with a tank cannon, and some very poorly executed explosions along the way.
I honestly can’t recommend this movie enough. It is a strange experience, and a complete train-wreck failure of a movie that is hard to look away from. Some apparently haven’t been able to enjoy this movie, but I thought there was some real entertainment value in it as an academic example of how not to make a comedic movie. You really have to just turn off all of your thought processes and embrace the confusion for this one. Just ride the ostrich.