At the second Yakmala ever, Sarah brought a film called Quigley for our enjoyment. Fifteen minutes in, Erik and I were both wondering if it was possible to slice our wrists with a DVD remote. In agony, I turned to Sarah and demanded, “How the hell did you make it through this?” And, grinning widely, she said in that adorable spritely voice of hers, “I’ve never gotten this far before!” FIFTEEN MINUTES IN.
Anyway, whenever I bring this movie up as one of ours, everyone immediately assumes I mean Quigley Down Under. That movie isn’t bad. The movie I’m talking about stars Gary Busey as a pomeranian.
Tagline: Stopped from entering heaven’s gates – He’s sent back as a DOG to fix his mistakes
More Accurate Tagline: Dog backwards is God. So this is high concept stuff.
Guilty Party: Religion is the enemy of art. Yeah, I know all the great masters used to paint angels and churches and whatnot. You know why? Because that was who was hiring, and you can’t eat paint. Quigley is a lot like eating paint, only you’re hungry afterwards and you can’t shit a rainbow. Producer/Writer/Director William Byron Hillman appears to be a lifelong hanger-on of the film industry at large. And based on this film is a man of deep and unexamined faith.
Synopsis: Archie Channing (Gary Busey, once again demonstrating the importance of helmet laws) is one of those cold-hearted profit-first CEOs that only exists in the movies and super PACs. Also, he hates dogs. Oh, how he hates them. Maybe because stepping in their poop causes him to catch air like he’s wiping out at the X Games or something. Archie has a CD ROM he wants played in front of the shareholders, which basically outlines massive pay cuts and layoffs in the company (“pulling a Romney” as it’s known in some circles). He refrains from cackling maniacally, but I that’s only because most of Busey’s energy is devoted to shooting eye lasers at colossal hell spiders only he can see.
While driving too fast, Archie swerves to miss a white pomeranian and promptly dies in a single car crash. He’s taken to heaven, which looks like someone’s basement. There’s some astroturf on the floor, a sofa covered in a sheet, and an impressively multi-cultural array of angels, but seriously, it’s a basement. Anyway, God has decided to send Archie back to earth to mend his ways. And proving that Archie isn’t the only douche on hand, the Almighty puts Archie in the body of a white pomeranian named Quigley. Why is the dog named Quigley when Archie is named Archie? The Lord works in mysterious ways.
God also sends along Sweeney (Oz Perkins), a guardian angel who, based on his compulsive pratfalling, suffers from crippling vertigo or possibly an inner ear infection. Sweeney is not allowed to help Archie in any way, and God grows angry every time Sweeney thinks about maybe not being a useless asshole. Archie’s first stop is his old company, where he tries to stop his former second-in-command Dexter Pearlsley (Curtis Armstrong) from continuing Archie’s legacy of dickery. Avoiding the mentally challenged security guards and inexplicably German janitor, Archie/Quigley steals the CD ROM and escapes.
Sweeney then tells Archie to go make up with his brother Woodward (Christopher Atkins, star of The Blue Lagoon). Quigley obediently insinuates himself into Woodward’s nuclear family. While the kids search for Quigley’s owner, Archie learns that Woodward is tragically afflicted with Movie Poverty. Woodward and wife Joanne do a lot of whining about how poor they are, yet they live in this incredible house in the hills around LA and Joanne doesn’t have a job. Supposedly Woodward works two jobs (one as a delivery man), and devotes some time to video game design while the family barely makes ends meet. Here’s a thought… maybe you sell that mansion and move to Highland Park or something?
So anyway, Quigley steals Woodward’s video game which is supposedly the greatest game since ’02 when Konami released Blowjob Master. He gets into Dexter’s hands, who promptly flips over it and immediately offers Woodward a high paying job as a game designer. All is good! Archie can go to heaven!
Only… no. No he can’t. Turns out the whole thing was a dream. Archie wakes up, resolves to be a better person, and goes to make peace with Woodward.
Life-Changing Subtext: God is a raging asshole.
Defining Quote: Archie: “Dogs hate me. They chase me. They bite me. I step in their poop.” This is also the opening line of Busey’s autobiography.
Standout Performance: Woodward and Joanne are an attractive couple living beyond their means. But how how did they wind up with such an amazing house? The answer, lies in the standout performance: Joanne’s boobs. See, Jessica Ferrarone, the actress who plays Joanne, has a hell of a rack. And it should be, because she paid good money for those chest balloons. So what’s an upstanding Christian housewife doing with a pair of Double D sweater cannons?
Oh, not anymore. But she and Woodward (remember, he starred in the softcore classic Blue Lagoon) probably met on a porn shoot. Fell in love, found Jesus at the bottom of a bottle of amyl nitrate, and got married. Now, they’re only trained for fucking and sucking, but they’ve got kids! Bills! Jesus!
The point of all this that Jessica Ferrarone’s breasts have a magical effect on the audience. Quigley is slow as hell, but as soon as she pops up on screen, people wake right up. Her boobs spark conversation. Are they real? Fake? Weaponized?
What’s Wrong: A good chunk of the film hangs on the idea that Woodward is some kind of incredible video game designer. Unfortunately, while Hillman is aware that something called “video games” exist, and he’s vaguely aware they’re played on a computer, he has never actually seen one. This is the only conclusion that can be reached from the scattered hints dropped throughout. At one point, a character praises a game in which one has to drop the joystick and pick up another, like that’s a thing. And when we see Woodward’s incredible game? It’s a bunch of crudely drawn animals skipping stones on a pond that looks like an airplane toilet.
Flash of Competence: Can I give this to Jessica Ferrarone’s rack again?
Best Scenes: Okay, so Busey is a pomeranian. Most of the time we just see the pomeranian, which is pretty cute for a dog that looks like a snowman turd. When the Busey character interacts with Sweeney one on one, he appears as Busey. So it’s like an episode of Quantum Leap if Sam Beckett were a wild-eyed mental patient moments from eating the soft parts of Al’s face. Anyway, the best part of Busey’s performance is when he gets love from a woman on the street. She thinks he’s a dog. He is Busey in business attire and a dog collar. I couldn’t help but think this was a pretty typical weekday for the man.
Not much happens in this movie. So, in an attempt to create a little drama, Woodward’s daughter — whose name I’ve forgotten and I’ll be damned if I look it up so we’ll call her Fortinbras — gets lost. Quigley runs off to help. The really funny part is the song. Which is extremely on the nose. Basically two people singing the feelings of Quigley and Fortinbras. Like the two characters got lost and wound up on a deleted scene for Trapped in the Closet.
Transcendent Moment: The entire movie hinges around Archie Channing, an inveterate douchebag being sent back to earth for another chance. Yet, in the end, he is informed that there are no second chances. You mean other than the one I just spent the longest ninety minutes of my life watching?
But hey, at least this film espouses the idea that one’s deeds are the important thing, right? Nope. Archie states, quite clearly, the film’s nauseating moral: good deeds can’t get you into heaven. Only faith matters. So in the end, this was just God’s elaborate, roundabout way to get one dipshit to believe in Him.
Quigley is a movie that explicitly states the existence of god, yet, denies it by its very existence. Deep, huh? Anyway, if you had any doubts that God is well and truly dead, check out what Hillman’s promising in 2012. Merry fucking apocalypse.