Absorb, if you will, the official Trigger Happy publicity bumph, which presents this triumph of truth-bending: "Writer-director Larry Bishop takes retro-gangster chic to a new dimension with stark tension, ice-cold hip and over-the-top humour." It goes on to claim that the cast, which includes Richard Dreyfuss, Jeff Goldblum and Gabriel Byrne, give "unforgettable performances", and that Trigger Happy is a "completely unique film." All this is perfectly possible, of course, but Trigger Happy, is, in fact, a witless, bone-headed mountain of arse.
The proof? Let's look at the blurb again. "Larry Bishop takes retro-gangster chic to a new dimension..." Very true. Trigger Happy is set in a parallel universe, a sort of colour-drained 1920s where guys sport sharp suits and women slink around in figure-hugging dresses while wearing seven layers of make-up and come-to-bed smiles. By night, everybody hangs out in lamp-lit, smoky nightclubs, packing pistols or purses depending on their gender. As you watch, around 15 characters are introduced then killed off. A routine is established - some tough-guy characters talk about how they're going to kill Vic or Mickey, one tough-guy character gets killed, the others smile secretly then leave. This is repeated until 90 minutes have elapsed and the cast has been reduced to four.
"Stark tension", then? There isn't any. The characters are so two-dimensional, you just don't care who lives or dies. "Ice-cold hip", perhaps? Goldblum interprets this phrase as "moodily quiet for long periods", lazing his way through a terrible script. And as for "over-the-top humour", here are two examples: Gabriel Byrne hilariously quips "How's your vagina?" instead of "How's your angina?"; and we witness the disinterrment of the "Does he know that I know that he knew what I knew?" gag. These are the comedic heights to which Trigger Happy soars.
Quite why so many big-name actors chose to act in this inane mess of a film is unclear. Gabriel Byrne can't quite carry off the hard man/madman mafioso role, Barkin's face sags under the weight of a ton of blue eye shadow (the rest of her is nice, though), and Kyle MacLachlan et al merely make up the numbers. When a film is poorly shot, sluggishly acted and as funny as a Christmas cracker joke, there's not much left to say nice things about.
"A completely unique movie"? Oh yes. In its own special way. If this reviewer were to summarise the Trigger Happy experience, it would go like this: laughed once; stared incredulously at the screen 34 times; tried to fall asleep three times; looked hopefully at watch too often to remember. "What a pair of balls had I!" screams Gabriel Byre at one point. Make that "What a load of balls..."
A one-laugh film, Trigger Happy (in the US, Mad Dog Time) fails spectacularly on every level. Don't be fooled by the star-speckled line-up - this is unabridged dross. At least Jeff Goldblum has The Lost World with which to salvage his reputation.