National Lampoon's Men in White (1998) poster

National Lampoon’s Men in White (1998)


USA. 1998.


Director – Scott Levy, Screenplay – Rob Kerchner & Scott Sandin, Producer – Mike Elliott, Photography – Brad Rushing, Music – Kenneth Burgomaster, Music Supervisors – Ron Kenan & Andrew R. Muson, Animation Producer – Kent Butterworth, Makeup/Creature Effects – Magical Media Industries (Supervisor – John Carl Buechler), Production Design – Anthony Tremblay. Production Company – Saban Entertainment,


Tom Wilson (Fred Klingbottom), Karim Prince (Roy Du Bro), M. Emmet Walsh (Stanley), Barry Bostwick (President Smith), Donna D’Errico (Press Secretary), George Kennedy (General Mills), Wigald Boning (Dr Strangemeister)


Two dim-witted garbage collectors Fred Klingbottom and Roy Du Bro are abducted by aliens in a UFO but manage to affect an escape. With the country plagued by alien abductions, The President demands that security agencies do something. Fred and Roy are recruited as agents and sent into action in a hi-tech garbage truck. However, the invading aliens are being aided by the President’s adviser Dr Strangemeister who is determined to sabotage efforts and place the blame on Fred and Roy.

National Lampoon magazine is a revered American classic for its satiric takes on current events and pop culture. National Lampoon was published from 1970 until 1998, although most fans regard its heyday as being the early half of the 1970s. Certainly, the late 1970s onwards – the point when the magazine’s founders sold out interest – is regarded as forgettable by fans. Moreover, after taking over, the new owners began to merchandise the National Lampoon name in all conceivable mediums – a series of lps and a radio show, even videogames. The most widespread outthrust of this has been lending the magazine’s name to a large body of movies. These began with John Landis’s likeable frat rat comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978). This was followed by a host of films bearing the National Lampoon name – in particular, the increasingly terrible Holiday series starring Chevy Chase, which so far includes National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation (1997) and, without Chase, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure (2003). Other films, which are related only by the magazine’s name above the title, include National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982), National Lampoon’s Movie Madness (1983), National Lampoon’s Class of 86 (1986), National Lampoon’s True Facts (1992), National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon I (1993), National Lampoon’s Attack of the 5’2″ Woman (1994), National Lampoon’s Last Resort (1994), National Lampoon’s Favorite Deadly Sins (1995), National Lampoon’s Senior Trip (1995), National Lampoon’s The Guys (1996), National Lampoon’s Dad’s Week Off (1997), National Lampoon’s The Don’s Analyst (1997), National Lampoon’s Golf Punks (1998), National Lampoon’s American Adventure (2000), National Lampoon Presents Repli-Kate (2002), National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002), National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze (2003), National Lampoon’s Lady Killers (2003), National Lampoon’s Thanksgiving Family Reunion (2003), National Lampoon’s Greek Games (2003), National Lampoon’s Going the Distance (2004), National Lampoon’s Lost Reality (2004), National Lampoon’s Adam and Eve (2005), National Lampoon’s Cattle Call (2005), National Lampoon’s Lost Reality 2: More of the Worst (2005), National Lampoon’s Pledge This (2005), National Lampoon’s Teed Off (2005), National Lampoon’s The Trouble with Frank (2005), National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze 2 (2006), National Lampoon’s Pucked (2006), National Lampoon Presents the Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell (2006), National Lampoon’s TV: The Movie (2006), National Lampoon’s Bag Boy (2007), National Lampoon’s Spring Break (2007), National Lampoon’s The Stoned Age (2007), National Lampoon’s College Road Trip (2008), National Lampoon’s Ratko: The Dictator’s Son (2009), National Lampoon: When Old People Attack (2009), National Lampoon’s 301 (2011), National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie (2011), National Lampoon’s Snatched (2011) and National Lampoon’s Surf Party (2013). Other than Animal House, few of these are funny or even good films and none can be said to approach anywhere near the satiric bite that the magazine had in its heyday.

Amid these host of National Lampoon films, it would have to be agreed that Men in White is the most excruciating of them all. National Lampoon’s Men in White was made after the big box-office success enjoyed by Independence Day (1996) and Men in Black (1997) and was construed as a parody of the genre along the lines of Airplane (1980) and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988). It has been a long time since one has seen such an agonizingly unfunny comedy. It is painful to watch some of the eye rolling that goes on between the two principals or the sheer moronicism of the sped-up scenes of them running around with a suction pipe.

There are a great many movie pastiches throughout from Rocky (1976) to the “Are you feeling lucky punk?” speech from Dirty Harry (1971) to more science-fictional targets like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – here the monolith is a domino and the Blue Danube sequence makes people sick. There are a bunch of aliens who all spout smartass colloquialisms in squawky voices. There are lame lines: “Extra-terrestrials? No thanks, two terrestrials is enough for one man.” The UFOs have bumper stickers like ‘If You Can Read This You’re in Space’ and ‘I’d Rather Be Abducting’. The digital effects representing the UFOs and aliens are poor. Men in White comes with a level of inanity that is persistently in your face in a way that becomes exhausting by the end of the show.

National Lampoon’s Men in White was made by Saban Entertainment, a children’s entertainment production company, responsible for tv series like Samurai Pizza Cat (1991), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-6), Digimon (1999-2003) and various video-released features such as Addams Family Reunion (1998), Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish (1998) and a host of Casper the Friendly Ghost sequels. Director Scott [P.] Levy is a former Roger Corman protégé who has directed a number of B genre films including Midnight Tease (1994), The Alien Within (1995), Piranha (1995), House of the Damned (1996), Time Under Fire (1997) and Error in Judgement (1998). Men in White was such a disaster that Levy has yet to direct another film.

(Winner in this site’s Worst Films of 1998 list).

Full film available here

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