Andy Sidaris directs Malibu Express, a 1985 actioner that stars a merry band of Playboy Playmates, a soap star and Sybil Danning. There’s no real question as to what kind of film this is, with a convoluted plot serving as a mere frame for the bullets, bombs and babes on display. It’s a B-movie in every sense of the word.
Sidaris, who also wrote the screenplay, builds a universe that is almost frustratingly chipper. The characters are always grinning about something and the villains never seem all that bad, even when they threaten the security of the entire planet. And there’s always a gentle sun shining overhead, like a beacon over the beach bodies that are such an indelible part of the landscape.
Darby Hinton stars as Cody Abilene, a private investigator probably from Texas. He’s tasked by some sort of government agency to track down someone who’s been selling computers to the Russians. Abilene is sent to mix it up with socialite Contessa Luciana (Danning), who may or may not have information. He also lives on a yacht.
With the help of his police officer pal Beverly (Lori Sutton) and a race car driver named June Khnockers (Lynda Wiesmeier), the private dick attempts to get the bad guys. And the bad guys, including a trio of goons, are trying to get him. All the while, the bizarre Buffington clan is trying to defeat him in a series of car races.
Hinton is a likable if somewhat bland protagonist and his character is peppered with amusing details. The film begins with his arrival at a firing range, where he unpacks his six-shooter from a cowhide case and proceeds to miss the target with every single shot. He calmly packs up the case, smiles and heads off into the sunset.
This sets Abilene up as a tangled, incompetent protagonist. The audience knows he’s not going to win many fights, but the counterargument is strong as he proves he can bed any woman within range. This comical allure causes the revelation of countless bare breasts, with Abilene’s moustache always at the ready.
No, the biggest problem in Abilene’s life is not whether or not he can track down the vague tech-spies that have something to do with the Trumpian scheme. The biggest problem in his life is whether or not he’ll be able to find the time to cope with the two sexy trespassers on his yacht and the race car driver and the cop.
These issues are compounded by the fact that the aforementioned race car driver, “knockers with an H,” doesn’t know when to lay off the gas. With a helicopter looming and gunfire blazing, Wiesmeier’s character gets her engine revved and reveals her assets. Abilene does the best he can to keep driving.
Without question, Malibu Express could be considered a piece of softcore pornography with a little action thrown in. And indeed, that’s what Sidaris does best. His Meyer-like attraction to the voluptuous side of life may be a little dull for those otherwise inclined, but there’s also a gaudy and amusing style at play.
With a few scattered smash cuts and some interesting angles, Sidaris and cinematographer Howard Wexler do just enough to keep Malibu Express clicking along in a visually stimulating way. And the spirit of fun is alive and well, with the cavorting Playmates working their way through a cardboard screenplay and Hinton’s Abilene the grilled cheese sandwich at the centre of it all.