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By Brad Laidman | January 21, 2001

“You must have pieces of a*s in your brain because you never know when to stop.”
I’m sure this has happened to all of us. You’re on a road trip in the middle of nowhere. You stop off to eat at some strange fast food franchise you’ve never heard of, and as you do your best to be happy about an inferior meal in a scary place you wonder: Who actually lives in these pseudo towns and what must they be like? You then shudder with terror and do your best not to think about it anymore, and I wish Bob Morrow and his improv gang had done the same.
I hate movies about stupid people. Sure I like “Beavis and Butthead” but they are malevolent, malicious and a potential danger to our continuing way of life. “Barstow 2008” is a veritable moron dogfight, with each actor doing his or her best to bring to life the most pathetic loser that they can possibly nightmare into existence. “Barstow 2008” wants desperately to be a Christopher Guest-type mockumentary. These people saw “Best of Show” and thought it was brilliant. Personally, I thought it should have been called “Annoying People and Their Dogs”. When Guest and company made fun of Rock stars in “Spinal Tap,” they were tearing down once powerful and worshiped buffoons we had all once wanted to be. “Barstow 2008” makes fun of small town imbeciles and what’s so funny about that? These characters have Frank Capra-like big dreams, but only so we can further degrade and mock them for their utter implausibility. This movie wants you to revel in its “It’s a Wonderful Life” ending but in reality all it is saying is that when you are a dumb, pennyless loser your only hope is to congregate with others of your ilk. Sometimes this plays like “Roger and Me” but that movie was true; it really cared about its weirdos and wore its anger on its sleeve. I doubt that there are really people like this in the world, but if there are I have a feeling the best thing for all of us is to leave them be.
“Barstow 2008” stars Paul Wilson, the guy who sort-of surreptitiously became a regular character on “Cheers”. Wilson is Benny Finch, a man who can’t keep a job as a manicurist (or anything else for that matter), wears white tennis shoes with his suits, and for some reason thinks that he can convince the International Olympic Committee to hold the 2008 games in Barstow, California, a town that people stop in on their way to Vegas when they need to use the facilities. Benny is so pathetic he gets out-bartered by a midget and believes that his wife leaves the house every day all dolled up to go night rock climbing. His wife Mona (Groundling, and “Austin Powers” co-star Mindy Sterling) works as a cook at a restaurant that heats up gourmet frozen dinners with microwaves. She does her grocery shopping at convenience stores, serves her family Ramen noodles for dinner, and cheats with a man more successful than her husband. Her paramour is a portable toilet leaser who likes to wear diapers and is desperate to find someone to empty out his inventory. If these wacky dreamers sound like grist to make you chuckle, this may be your “Citizen Kane” for there are at least twelve others just as outlandishly buffoonish. The day after everything in the world that needs to be mocked is lambasted and destroyed is the day I believe “Barstow 2008” is worth whatever kind of stock it was filmed on. Personally, I think bad cheerleader movies are more useful and æsthetically worthwhile. The only character here I really liked is the guy who asks, “We done with this bullshit?” the second he thinks his interview may be over.
[ Note: ] David Bonfadini (no not the guy from the Partridge Family), who plays the hilariously named son, Erik Estrada Finch is very likely the perfect person to play Bobby Hill if they ever decide to make a live action movie out of the Mike Judge television show “King of the Hill”.

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