Charming's father Parody has sent her on a risky overland errand, providing crooked banker Avery Simpson with the perfect chance to double-cross Parody out of a silver fortune. And when Simpson offers to buy Cactus Jack out of the Snakes End Jail if he'll do the dirty work, Cactus Jack schemes to double-cross the double-crosser. But his plans are foiled when Arnold Schwarzenegger weighs in as Handsome Stranger. He owes Parody Jones his life, and the payback is pure pistol-popping laughter as the blue-eyed do-gooder does bis duty: protecting the loot.
Wild, Wild West!
- Cactus Jack review by Count Otto Black
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You rated this film: 3
It's hard to know what rating to give a film like this! Logically it deserves one star on grounds of sheer what-were-they-thinking?, but it's so enjoyable that I'm giving it three - this is a rare example of "so bad it's good" that's actually good, as opposed to worthless dreck you watch with an ironic sneer on your face while pretending to be having fun. And since it's outside the extremely narrow genres devotees of bad movies have been unimaginatively strip-mining ever since those wacky Medved brothers set the ball rolling in 1979, it very seldom features on bad or weird movie websites. Which is a pity, since it's both worse (in the best possible way) and far, far weirder than many of the usual suspects.
Basically, this is a live-action Road Runner cartoon with Kirk Douglas in the rôle of Wile E. Coyote. Literally! Our anti-hero's methods of disposing of his foes typically involve large amounts of dynamite (supplied by the Acme Corporation, naturally), huge suspended rocks, or other methods so daft as to be downright surreal, all of which are lifted directly from the cartoons. And of course, Cactus Jack's nefarious schemes invariably backfire upon himself, with consequences that should be fatal but are merely embarrassing. The nominal hero is a squeaky-clean but hopelessly naïve moron whose actual name is Handsome Stranger, played by a not-yet-famous Arnold Schwarzenegger, presumably because the casting director thought his physical appearance and unique style of "acting" resembled those of a cartoon character. Which of course they do. As for Kirk Douglas, it always adds something to a silly film if the star is clearly enjoying himself, and I think we can safely say that Kirk's having a ball!
As a token concession to the fact that this is allegedly a movie aimed at adult audiences, a love-triangle involving the three main characters inevitably develops (and some of the jokes about what Cactus Jack may end up doing to Charming Jones if he gets the chance are a tad politically incorrect by today's standards), but in almost every department, this is a comedy western as unashamedly bonkers as the cartoons it's based on, and in that respect, it's far better than Robert Altman's vastly more expensive but hideously misjudged "Popeye". This is a neglected anti-classic that, given the tiny number of comedy westerns that are any good at all, deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as the overrated "Blazing Saddles" and the underrated "Evil Roy Slade".