‘Bonnie’s Kids’ ** Movie Review 072107

The Work = **
What is it about the low budget, exploitation movies of the 70s that is so appealing? Why is it that I find myself willing to sit through them and feel like I had a good time when many low budget films of today leave me itching to fast forward? I don’t know that I will be able to put together a fully coherent reason but I will try. Take ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ for example; a film I can’t recommend but can’t really say I minded watching either. What is it that makes the movie stronger than say, a direct to video film of today?

Maybe it is a willingness to follow through on some or all of the “exploitation” end of the film’s promotion. Sure there are many exceptions but when a film from the 70s advertised scantily clad women toting firearms there was a high probability that before the film ended a) some ladies would do some shooting and b) said ladies would find some reason to disrobe during the film’s usually short run time. Today studios keep the scantily clad ladies and often the firearms but they also often try to cram them into a PG-13 universe that dries the blood and hides the skin. This is all well and good if the film in question is something suited to that universe but when it is not, the whole thing seems like a rip off.

All my rambling about hypothetical exploitation films of present and past brings me back to ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ a movie that advertised (or at least implied) a tale about a pair of beautiful sisters on a crime spree. I am here to tell you that the ladies are in the buff but the crime spree is not quite as exciting as one might hope for. The film itself, in fact, felt disjointed and smashed together, leaving no story thread that ends up being completely satisfactory. The trouble is the movie should have been called ‘Bonnie’s Kids and the Hitmen’ because the latter ends up being the most likeable element in the film.

The titled ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ are two sisters living with a drunk, overweight, step dad in the south. (Spoiler warning) One night after some ridicule step dad tries to force himself on the younger sister, Myra (Robin Mattson). Too bad for him, older sis’ Ellie (Tiffany Bolling) arrives home with a shotgun. They bury the fat man in the basement and go off to see their rich uncle Ben (Scott Brady). Things get complicated when Ellie ends up running off with Uncle Ben’s mob money and Myra seems to be on her way to running off with Uncle Ben’s wife. Two hitmen Eddy (Alex Rocco) and Digger (Timothy Brown) are dispatched to get the money back but have difficulty since the attractive Ellie has corralled a very dumb private detective named Larry (Steve Sandor).

As I mentioned before the film felt disjointed and the sisters seemed more suited to the role of villains than central characters. Their fairly unlikable nature left me rooting for the much more likable hit men. Eddy (played by the criminally underrated Rocco) and Digger have a casual banter while going about their job that made me think of Jules and Vincent’s banter in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’. Maybe watching ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ in the 70s helped Tarantino sow the seeds for his characters in the future. Then again maybe it is just a coincidence. I should at least mention that Sharon Gless of ‘Cagney & Lacey’ fame has a small supporting role as a waitress in the film .

Looking for cameos, watching the ladies, and listening to the hitmen is sort of the fun of a film like ‘Bonnie’s Kids’; maybe it doesn’t work as a whole but darned if those involved didn’t seem to do everything they could with the material. Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the film but its uneven nature keeps me from recommending it. If you do see 'Bonnie's Kids' and are the type that won’t be upset at seeing some lovely ladies disrobe and a few small shootouts then you’ll get at least one ok viewing out of it. I should say that ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ had some definitely cringe inducing, politically incorrect moments that could easily offend some viewers (including a homophobic diatribe that is probably one of the most cruel moments in the feature).

What I went away from the film with was a wanting to see a feature just about Eddie and Digger. As of the writing of this review, ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ is curiously not available on any home video format. This is a shame really, in a day and age when something like Vin Diesel's weak 'XXX’ is readily available on DVD ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ should be out there too. After all ‘Bonnie’s Kids’ may not be great but it has more teeth than ‘XXX’ could ever pretend to have. I say check out 'Bonnie's Kids' if it airs on cable or rent it when it gets a home format release, otherwise beware.


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