United States – 1996
Director – Aaron Norris
Turner Home Entertainment, 1996, VHS
Run time – 1 hour, 38 min.
This has got to be the most offensive Chuck Norris movie out there, and I don’t mean un-PC offensive (though there is a bellyful of that too). I just mean generally offensive to the senses. This is the last feature film Aaron Norris directed, and by leaps and bounds the most atrocious. Tired and ill-conceived but slick as a spoonful of ipecac, Chuck Norris doesn’t belong in a family movie, and the end results made me ill.
A withered old Loretta Swit (better known as Hot Lips Houlihan in the M.A.S.H. TV show) plays the single mother of an ugly as sin little kid, Logan. He’s the youngest of a group of grade-school friends who live in Oregon and carefully recite lines written by adults who never considered actual children’s grammar. Abused good naturedley by his pals, Logan joins them on his first trip “to the mountain”. Based on Swit’s terrified sobbing, I'd guess this is going to be an epic coming of age tale. At another friend's home, an alcoholic single father is verbally abused and given the full harpy woman guilt trip by his daughter Austene, the 11 year old “hot chick” of the movie. And since she’s the only girl in the group, brace yourself, there’s gonna be some sparkly fairy shit somewhere.
As the children ride away toward the ominous mount Hood moms weep, giving the impression that perhaps their children are going to butcher and eat one of the gang in some kind of savage rite. Wait why the hell is there banjo music? The legend of the mountain, as told by the friendly older token black character, is that the mountain is protected by the spirit of a guy named um, McKenna, a (Scottish?) Indian who takes the form of various disheveled and domesticated “wild” animals. Before ascending the mountain, all children must pray to the spirit of McKenna. (sadly no speaking in tongues) Their destination is a fancy tree-house fort located in a well-used patch of campground. There they meet a pitiful looking bear, obviously fed on twinkies and hotdogs, which they name “Rags”. There are also sounds emanating from the trees, spirits no doubt, of the poor suffering forest.
Soon their playground prancing is disturbed by evil machine music and big hardware chewing up logs. Eager slavering loggers lurk around the machines repeatedly telling each other how much they “Wanna cut down some trees.” In flagrant defiance of the intended message, I actually liked these guys better than the damn kids because they were straightforward, and even danced around playing air guitar with their chainsaws.
There is some heavy and tearful young adult drama here, clearly intended to create tension in a simple absorbent 5th grade mind. Instead I felt like I was watching a propaganda film for the Republican Party geared toward creating young believers in the policy of carefully “regulated exploitation”, a petting zoo image of nature and continued glorification of violence used to solve ones problems.
Although a few awkward and clunky scenes of Norris kicking logger ass are crudely jammed in, Chuck’s been pushed onto the back burner to let the kids tug off the real “heroics”. He looks ragged and tired, like he’s recovering from a full decade of chemotherapy. And that outfit, 100% Grade-A authentic truckstop “Injun”.