It seems only right that I take a look at the remake of Stacey to see if Andy Sidaris managed to preserve all that made Stacey a worthwhile watch and improve on the rest, not to indulge in the bevy of beauties Sidaris is famous for showcasing! It doesn’t happen all that often that a director goes back and remakes one of their own films, Hitchcock, Michael Mann, John Ford, Frank Capra and Cecil B. DeMille amongst others have all done this, however, I would say that this might be where the similarities with Sidaris come to an abrupt end.
Malibu Express is, on paper, quite similar to Stacey. There are a number of obvious changes right off the bat. Whilst the basic plot of a private investigator being hired to investigate a family who seem to be up to no good remains the same, the buxom Stacey is now the cocky comic Cody. The gender has changed, alongside the personality. Where Stacey was a skilful professional with a penance for race car driving, Cody is irresistible to the ladies and has an eye for detail. However, he is not a good driver or marksman. Cody cruises around in a red DeLorean, complete with squeaky, faulty doors. He even attempting to race it and is baffled when it fails to win, not the sharpest tool in the box. However, it does provide a good excuse to change a car to a junker that can be destroyed/shot at in a later scenes.
The main reason for the switch of gender is for Cody to have numerous “situations” with a flurry of beautiful women throughout the film. Each encounter is more like something from a Carry On movie than a steamy erotic liaison. However, I found Cody to be cringe inducing, especially when it came to his romantic talk with Beverly. His character really seemed to love himself, possibly more than the gorgeous lady in front of him.
Sidaris has made an attempt to alter the tone of the film, Stacey was less comedy, more action and thrills. Malibu Express has almost constant comedy with all manner of screwball characters showing up, including Cody himself. Thankfully, Sidaris kept a few nice ideas, Cody uses a dicta-phone to record his thoughts and provide exposition when needed to help fill in plot holes. The opening credits are creatively jazzed up from what they really are, perhaps a little overlong, but Sidaris’ approach to opening credits has become a unique creative experience.
Sybil plays, as you might expect, the gorgeous, sophisticated Contessa. The ultimate woman of desire for the story. Disappointingly, she isn’t in the film too much, however, her costume designer would require an award for some of the items we see her in. Art Metrano, fresh off Policy Academy 3, puts in what can only be described as the only worthwhile performance in the film. He is good and manages to ramp up the tension, not because of his character, Matthew’s input into the story, but concern that if his character is killed then there will be no quality performances left in the movie.
Darby Hinton plays Cody and is likeable enough, however, really does not make a massive impression in the role. The film might have broken out had the role been filled by another actor that really had a little magic, or even a cult figure. Fresh off of Bachelor Party Brett Clark plays the pivotal role of the family’s man servant Shane. Clark is a welcome addition giving those who might not be so interested in Sidaris’ ladies. Shane’s exit from the movie is one of the worst examples of prolonged death as he staggers around the room for for what seems like an age, even picking up a TV and collapsing with it.
Speaking of killing, the film is somewhat tame. It is made clear early on that Cody is a terrible shot, despite driving to the shooting range most mornings to practice. He uses a large silver .47 magnum hand cannon that he frequently discharges with reckless abandon. There are a few gunshot wounds to the main character and one character is murdered to keep the plot going. The only other character who dies is an innocent bystander, described by Mark and Luke as a “kid on a bike” following Matthew’s ruthless slaying, it’s a touch grim. Even the villainous characters echo this.
As an action film, there isn’t much. Stacey had a pretty exciting shootout and race car vs helicopter chase and Malibu Express tries these again but it really lacks the excitement of the original as there is an almost constant injection of poor humour that distracts from any attempt at excitement.
The humour is really poor. The late Lynda Wiesmeier, who was having a great year appearing in Teen Wolf, Real Genius, and Wheels of Fire plays a large breasted race car driver called June… “Khnockers.” The film stops frequently for a family of redneck stereotypes called the Buffingtons who force Cody to drag race their son. The three henchmen are called Matthew, Mark and Luke after the Four Evangelists, there is a John in the story, however, he isn’t particularly linked to the henchmen.
Another failing of the film is the colour and look. I expected Malibu Express to have glistening golden skin warmly drenched in sunlight, much like you might have in an episode of Baywatch. It does not. Instead every scene feels cold, the dozen or so beauties look pasty as it feels as though Sidaris filmed this in November. The colour has been drained from the frame leaving the sky white and surroundings uninviting.
Malibu Express fails at everything it sets out to do. I would take Stacey anytime over Malibu Express and it is deeply unfair that the former is barely watchable anywhere yet Malibu Express is on Blu-ray. Stacey is the vastly superior film in every way. I can understand why Sidaris opted to remake it, he just misjudged everything unlike his peers, Hitchcock, Michael Mann, John Ford, Frank Capra and Cecil B. DeMille.
There is one poster for Malibu Express and a terrific 80’s hand drawn piece that easily over-sells the film. The perfect art for any video library to adorn the walls with.