By Eric Campos | January 4, 2005

For those of you that miss the good old days of Zucker Brothers goofiness, such as “Airplane”, “Miss Cast Away” is gonna be right up your alley because that’s definitely what it’s trying to recapture and writer/director Bryan Michael Stoller actually pulls off a pretty impressive emulation. But therein lies a small problem – you start missing some of the usual suspects, especially since the movie opens on an airplane. You want to see Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays, Peter Graves and even Kareem Abdul Jabbar. But if you don’t mind settling for Eric Roberts and Charlie Schlatter – the guy who played opposite George Burns in “18 Again” – then you’re in good shape. In fact, the two actors, as does most of the rest of the cast, play well with the nutty material. Maybe Roberts or Schlatter could take up playing a younger Frank Drebin in a new “Naked Gun” movie. Maybe I’ve gone too far.

“Miss Cast Away” seats us with the plight of a plane load of beauty contestants crash landing on a seemingly deserted island. While trying to figure out a way off of the island, the bubble headed contestants, as well as the plane’s crew – Eric Roberts and Charlie Schlatter – discover that the island is home to Noah’s Ark, as well as an army of militant apes and some sort of dino-pig. But none of this is important as the jokes come so fast and furious that you’ll forget, nor care, what’s going on.

And then it happens…the message from Agent MJ.

Yeah, you may have heard of this one, especially if you watch “Entertainment Tonight.” Yes, this is the indie that actually features Michael Jackson in a cameo role as Agent MJ. Apparently filmmaker Stoller has been good friends with the pop star for several years and called in a favor. That favor was to make an appearance in his film as a secret agent who appears to Charlie Schlatter as a hologram and tells him that he must destroy the Ark for some reason or another. I say “for some reason or another” because instead of listening to what Agent MJ has to say, you’ll more than likely be saying – “Wait – So is that Michael Jackson? – Yeah, it is – How did that happen? – What’s going on here?” Hopefully the filmmaker doesn’t mind that this appearance causes more of a distraction than anything else.

But then again, like I said, it’s all about the jokes. Unfortunately, however, much of that intended humor comes from movie spoof jokes that hit as much as they miss. When they hit, they make sense within the context of the film – trapped on a deserted island, sure I can buy “Castaway”, Jurassic Park” and even “Planet of the Apes” jokes. But what is Austin Powers doing soaking in a hot tub with a couple of “birds”? I know this is supposed to be goofy, but material like the Austin Powers appearances and another character “seeing dead people” falls flat on its face. There’s plenty of genuine comic material here and it’s a shame to dirty it up with cheap shots like this. Oh well, by the time you find yourself groaning at something, another joke comes in to save the day…that is if you like your comedy nice and goofy.

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