Cloud 9 (2006) / Comedy
aka Cloud Nine

MPAA Rated: R for nudity, sexual content, and language
Running Time: 93 min.

Cast: Burt Reynolds, D.L. Hughley, Paul Wesley, Paul Rodriguez, Angie Everhart, Gabrielle Reece, Kenya Moore, Marne Patterson, Katheryn Winnick, Patricia De Leon, Rick Overton, Pat Finn, Steve Monroe, Luis Chavez, Ken Garito, Gary Busey (cameo), Tony Danza (cameo), Tom Arnold (cameo)
Director: Harry Basil

Screenplay: Brett Hudson, Burt Kearns, Albert S. Ruddy
Review published December 29, 2005

In case you've been waiting for Burt Reynolds (The Longest Yard, Without a Paddle) to finally make good on the comeback he should have made after getting an Oscar nomination for his work in Boogie Nights, you can stop waiting -- he's obviously given up.  To think that Burt was once reported to have claimed Boogie Nights as the worst movie he's ever done and refuse to promote it.  Burt fires the agent that got him that brass ring gig, and he keeps the one that has him starring in trash like The Dukes of Hazzard and Cloud 9??

I'm guessing either Burt needs a new car or someone has photos of him in compromising positions with a transvestite prostitute, because I can't think of any other single reason why he would ever be attracted to such a terrible, sensationalist idea for a movie.  Now, there are other famous celebrities in this film, like D.L. Hughley (Scary Movie 3, Chasing Papi), Paul Rodriguez (A Cinderella Story, Blood Work), Gary Busey, Tony Danza, Tom Arnold, and beach volleyball champ Gabrielle Reece, so what's their excuse?  Other than the fact that they are all sadly desperate for work, my guess is that they only want the chance to work with a legend like Burt Reynolds.   I want to know where they've set up a fund to help poor Burt financially is, because I'm willing to donate what I can to pay him enough to never have to embarrass himself making z-grade schlock like this ever again.

To think that one of the screenwriters and producers of this film is Albert Ruddy, the man that had just accepted the Academy Award for Best Picture the year before for Million Dollar Baby.  Not that his credentials as a writer merit respect, as his biography includes such tripe as the kangaroo boxing film Matilda and one of the biggest flops of its era, Megaforce.  Of course, once you see that he also worked with Burt on The Longest Yard and Cannonball Run II, and you can make an assumption that Burt might be doing this film as a favor to a friend, but then, what kind of friend would allow a former superstar in desperate need of a comeback to star in a film about volleyball playing strippers??

Yes, let me elaborate on this plot, as it is about the funniest thing about the movie.  Burt Reynolds plays a con man named Billy Cole, who is in dire need of cash flow now that his bills are mounting and he's facing eviction from his Malibu home.  One day he gets an idea that is sure to make him tons of money, so he heads out to the local strip club to lure in some of the dancers, because his idea is to finally make beach volleyball the hottest sport around.  With hot babes in skimpy outfits drawing the crowds, Billy couldn't care less whether the girls win or lose, as long as the cash keeps rolling in.  However, the girls begin to get tired of being thought of as a joke, and they want a shot at being respected for their abilities more so than their bodies, and tension begins to mount.

Cloud 9 has only one angle, and one angle only -- to show sexy babes in skimpy outfits as much as possible.  In between there is a story, but make no mistake, the whole plot is constructed in order to get these women down to a tiny bikini, when they aren't wearing nothing at all.  Burt Reynolds does star, but for all intents and purposes, they could have hired a crash test dummy and still drawn the same audience, since those that have followed Burt's career have learned to ignore most of his output since the late 1970s.  At least, I'm sure Burt is hoping they ignore it, as there's no way that he could think anyone really wants to see him in what amounts to nothing more than a sexploitation flick.

Remove the gratuitous boob and butt shots, and you don't have a movie here, folks.  The only humor to be found comes from some of the ad-libs of the performers, who all play their underwritten roles in ways that the producers of this film probably cared little about.  Paul Rodriguez has the worst role in the film, as Juan, the Mexican landscaper that pretends to be Asian because they get better jobs.  Apparently, one thing that makes him funny, other than the very racist impression of Asians he espouses, is the fact that he can't tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese.  Well, I hope that is part of the joke, because if it were written that way unintentionally, the thoughts in the minds that conceived of such a character are probably more offensive than one could believe could still be made in a motion picture today.

Then there are the cameo appearances from Busey, Arnold, and Danza.  In what has to be the most silly way to get famous faces in a film, there is absolutely no reason for any of these three to be here.  Busey has a scene cleaning up after his poop happy Chihuahua.  Tom Arnold walks in to drink a beverage.  Tony Danza peeps in to a party next door (perhaps a reference to Dudley Moore's character in Blake Edwards' 10?).  Absolutely nothing is done with any of their characters save to find ways to get them onscreen.

The definition of the phrase, "cloud nine", means a state of elation or happiness, but that's obviously a bad title for this movie.  There's no one that should be happy about seeing Burt Reynolds and company at the nadir of their careers doing what they can to peddle T&A for not-even-worthy-of-Skinemax straight-to-video entertainment. 

Actually, come to think of it, I can think of a way to make this title appropriate.  Burt has done quite a few movies with a numeral in the title: Smokey and the Bandit 2, Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, Cannonball Run 2, Cop and a 1/2, Universal Soldier 3, Crazy 6, and now, Cloud 9; all of them rank among the worst films of his entire career.  This makes for a great rule of thumb on which of his movies to avoid in the future.  I think it's safe to say, we've got your number now, Burt.

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo