a Primal Root review
Whoever thought a person possessing a pretty face could be counted on to be a convincing actress was sorely mistaken. Never more so than with Anna Nicole Smith, the legendary Guess Jeans Girl and Playmate of the Year of 1993. The woman had a one of a kind look. Tall, striking facial features and a buxom body unlike most of her contemporaries at Playboy magazine. She was a fully stacked young woman, bred in the dirty south, and bringing that mentality into pop culture. A kind of trash glamour. There was a strange progression in the 90’s of models making the leap from photographs to motion pictures. Cindy Crawford did it with Fair Game and never made that mistake again. Milla Jovavich took a stab at it and has been gainfully employed ever since. And then there was Anna Nicole…
Smith had an appearance in the Cohen Brother’s film The Hudsucker Proxy before going on to co-star with Leslie Neilson in the 3rd Naked Gun movie. She was pretty and spoke her lines…well, but these appearances did little to further her career. It wasn’t until 1995 that Anna Nicole landed her first starring role in the craptastic action extravaganza, TO THE LIMIT! It didn’t do anything to further her career either, but hey, she was the star. I’m pretty sure this thing went straight to video and late night Cinemax.
Anna Nicole plays ex-CIA Agent Colette Dubios who is tracking down the man who murdered her husband and also gunned down mobster Frank DaVinci’s (Joey Travolta) wedding party with the aid of his trusty band of expert assassins who are willing to die for him. And have their tops ripped off and their breasts groped before being shot in the head by him. This militant Manson-esque psychopath, Arthur, is played with gusto by Jack Bannon. A couple years later Colette and DaVinci cross paths and reluctantly decide to join forces to take down the dick head who killed their respective spouses.
To The Limit is actually a pretty entertaining movie. Between the video game graphics passed off as actual footage, to te $200 dollar stunt work and passing off the dining room of a Shoney’s as a high scale Las Vegas Casino’s VIP room there’s a lot here for a Trash Cinema fan to love. Possibly my single favorite sequence is our dignified introduction to Colette, the CIA agent. The first time we ever see her she is stark naked in a warm bath masturbating. The sequences goes on for at least seven or eight minutes before her husband calls for her off screen and she utters her first line. “I’M COMING!”
Now that’s class.
Directly after this, Colette gets out of the bath and we are informed that she and her husband are late to DaVinci’s wedding. So they hurry, get dressed and head out…right? WRONG! No, they have an extended sex scene with Anna writhing and bouncing her massive chesticals all over the place. Hey, you cast Anna Nicole Smith in your movie, you damn well better get your moneys worth. Once they finish up, her hubby hops in the car and is blown to smithereens . The blast throws Colette back into the house where she coughs up blood upon hitting the ground (???) and lets out a couple yelps of sadness.
To the Limit is an excellent piece of garbage, and what makes it that much better, it doesn’t try to be anything else. There are hardly any breasts that go unrevealed, no ambush murder too obvious, no death too undignified. A perfect example of this comes in the form of the contract hit of womanizing mobster, Joey Bambino. The guy is holding auditions for dancers up in his hotel suite when he brings in this cute asian girl. She not only claims to be a dancer, but a masseuse. So, of course, the attractive, nubile young woman and the hairy, saggy, pock marked mafioso undress and get to the rubbing. The scene goes on longer than it should before she breaks out her special massage oil which, only after totally doused in it, does Joey realize smells an awful lot like gasoline. You can guess what happens next. That place starts smelling like charred hair and Italian sausage.
Along the way Colette and DaVinci end up bonding over the deaths of their spouses. They shed tears and then their clothes as they start banging the hell out of one another. It’s made all the more uncomfortable by the fact that DaVinci is a white haired fellow five years shy of being a senior citizen. But, hey, I guess there’s no better way of getting over your spouse’s horrific and haunting death than giving or receiving some deep dicking. Soon after the two make the sign of the double backed wombat they are ambushed by Arthur’s gang of hard boiled professional assassins. All of which are killed in less than five minutes by a playboy playmate and an over the hill mobster.
It all leads up to a climactic face off at the top of a dam where DaVinci comes face to face with the man responsible for crashing his wedding and also must decide if he can truly trust Coletta, the woman he dunked his doughnut in the night before. Now, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but the climax is one of the greatest moments of sheer action goofiness I’ve ever seen unfold. Remember CD Face from Hellraiser 3? Yeah, let’s just say someone expected us to take this kind of fatality seriously outside the horror fantasy genre.
To The Limit hits the bullseye of the “So Bad It’s Good” term. Really, it’s a terrible, terrible, film but I can’t help but enjoy everything it doesn’t have going for it. And you know what the best aspect of the film is?Anna Nicole Smith. The woman is one of the worst actresses of all time. But unlike Julia Roberts, Anna Nicole Smith knows she is terrible. And there’s a sincerity to everything she does on screen. She’s trying, man, but she just can’t do it. She has a serious face, a sultry face and a happy face and they all look completely clueless. The most endearing moment of Anna’s arrives somewhere in the half way point of the film where she realizes an important file has gone missing. She looks at DaVinci so sadly and exclaims, “It’s been STOLDID.” Yes…stoldid. I rewound and listened to this scene a dozen time and she really does say “Stoldid.” Did director Ray Martino just not have time for a second take? For my money, I am glad he left this little treasure in the film. I mean, the dialog is pure nonsense anyway, you may as well let Anna Nicole spice it up and make it a little bit engaging with her mispronunciations. I still have no idea how she didn’t, at one point or another, show up in a John Waters film. It seems the two would make a natural fit.
Anna Nicole Smith is a Trash Cinema Legend for the ages. Her brief film career gave us some of the funniest and most outlandish action films ever made. It really is a shame Anna Nicole didn’t have the opportunity to make more of these hilarious action films. It was a blast watching her kick the shit out of some hired goons, flubbing her lines and getting naked in every other scene. Anna Nicole Smith was the trashiest of stars. She brought a sense of sweet, backwoods, naivety to everything she was a part of and it’s something I miss. I have a feeling it will be a long, long time before we ever have a sex symbol as trashy as Ms. Anna Nicole. Thank you for your contributions to down and dirty, low budget action. You may not have been the greatest actress but you sure were fun to watch.
-The Primal Root