Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option

Price: 75 cents
Year: 2001
Length: Treat Williams
Director: Robert Radler
Cast: Treat Williams, Patrick Kilpatrick, Angie Everhart, Bill Nunn

It's always a Treat with Treat Williams! - me

A man can learn a lot about himself when slogging through the dollar bins for used blog fodder. For instance, I learned that I will purchase any film featuring "Always a" Treat Williams and any film that is a direct to video sequel to a not particularly well loved or remembered Tom Berenger vehicle. So now I own both The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All and The Substitute 4: Failure is Not an Option (Sniper sequels oddly MIA for now). For brevity and clarity, I will focus on the latter as I watched it sober this weekend compared to wasted 6 months ago por tres. Although I get giddier when stumbling across a Treat Williams vhs than Huell Howser does when finding a 19 year old can of kidney beans in a hermit's magic trash house, I can't really explain what it is about the guy that I fond so damn irresistible. It's probably some combination of my eternal love for THE PHANTOM, the time I stayed in a hotel room in Vegas with a picture of Treat and Cathy Moriarty on the wall, and the to the gut simplicity of his moniker. I can't help but be delighted by a man named Treat.

So it was with the great anticipation of a Christmas morn spent next to a fire at Coolio's egg-strewn house being lectured about right and wrong that I approached this film. I was giggly, caffeinated, and alert; open to all the Treats that awaited me, and, as always, Treat did not disappoint.

The Substitute sequels always find a way to shoehorn a professional mercenary into needing to pose as a teacher in order to murder some of his students for being up to (A) general drug dealing, gang banging, Jeff Gillooly-esque kneecappery, being in something awesomely called "The Kings of Destruction" (B) car-jacking, gang-banging, being in something unimaginatively called "The Brotherhood" (C) being on a football team, taking some frothing Benoit fantasia inducing steroids, ripping the tops of desks apart from the chair (D) being in the military, being Nazis, blowing up power plants, beheading old rich guys. Fortunately, D is the plot for The Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option and it makes for the least action filled, most nonsensical, strangely name actor filled (by Substitute standards) Substitute yet.

Before getting all Trick or Treaty on you, it bears mentioning that Patrick Kilpatrick is truly remarkable as a American military academy commandant at the realistically titled American Military Academy of the South, who has a poorly kept secret Nazi society called the Werewolves, who cleverly disguise themselves by wearing SS logos on their hats and armbands and denying the Holocaust to anyone within earshot. He constantly accuses Treat Williams of fostering "Multiculturalism" at his beloved academy and bragging about how a race war is totally gonna happen this time if he just blows up that billion dollar power plant that was funded entirely by money from black people apparently! (not making this up, I think!)

Treat is a lover and a fighter and he hates intolerance more than anything so he's on edge from the start about these Werewolf kids who keep trying to kill him and deny the Holocaust and what not. Good for Treat that former Stallone fiance and fading ginger sexpot Angie Everhart is also around to provide some nudity that otherwise the film would have been sorely lacking. She also takes a bullet for him at the end and it is very poignant. Also, good for Treat that Bill "Radio Raheem" Nunn is around to act all crazy like and give him guns when he needs them and kill some racists, too, because as a black man, his righteous anger against the skinheads is more crowd cheeringly deserved. But really, at the end of the day, this is a movie that belongs to the Treat and he does not disappoint.

Treat spins and kicks and flips bad guys over his back like cabbage. He spits and kisses and dances his way into our hearts during the torrid and truncated Campus Dance scene. But most of all, the way he bravely follows the Werewolves on their mission to blow up the power plant, then stands around doing nothing, waiting till after the power plant explodes to start kicking everyone's butt after they get back to campus, really seals the deal. Ultimately, The Substitute series is about the titular character teaching his students important life lessons with his feet and fists and IF he had stopped them and killed them off campus, his point would not have been so pointed. Only at a school can the most righteous teaching of death be solidly administered. Only at a school can the flimsy gimmick of a mercenary stopping crime tie back into the title of the series. Life lessons can be taught at school, but no one is better at offering death lessons than my man Treat Williams as Karl Thomasson in The Substitute 2 : School's Out, The Substitute 3 : Winner Takes All, and The Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option. Thank you, Treat Williams, for teaching us about death and teaching . . . again.


The Man Can Sing! (and not just that Hair shit)

He simply cannot be any Treatier!

1 comment:

Adam said...

Thank you for your bizarre and enjoyable commentary on this bizarre and enjoyable movie. I just watched it, and I really liked reading your take on it. The Substitute Part 1: Substitute is still the best of the series for both action and campy laughs, but the three Treat Williams follow-ups are pretty good, and strangely sad and poignant.