|This poster is hilariously bad.|
Tim Conway is a performer who, I think it’s fair to say, had his highest period of popularity many, many years before I was born. Considering this is a film featuring other comedic actors who are probably best known now for bit parts on TV Land reruns, like Harvey Korman or Johnathan Winters, you can excuse me for thinking that “The Longshot” might be a movie for, you know, old people. It’s a movie about horse racing and gambling which, you might notice, are not subjects usually enjoyed by younger generations. The film opens with Tim Conway rapping with a pre-“Cop Killer” Ice-T, which just seem to further reinforcement my prediction of painfully unhip comedy.
All of this might technically be true but it doesn’t prevent “The Longshot” from being a funny movie, at least most of the time. The film revolves around a group of four losers who have lost a lot of money over the years on the ponies. The group gets a hint that one of the horse tamers has a secret that is going to make one of the second-stringer horses a sure shot at winning. After borrowing five-thousand dollars from a local mob boss, the guys go on a number of wacky misadventures to make sure everything goes according to plan. Naturally, of course, things go off the rails. Because we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise.
The rest of the quartet are played by a grumpy Harvey Korman, increasingly stumbly Elton played by Jack Weston, and the dumb Stump, played Ted Wass. Stump proves to be one of the more entertaining characters in the film. He’s obsessed with his pet goldfish, Ollie. In another stand-out scene in the film, Stump’s falling-apart car slams into his rickety old trailer. He has to break into his own home in order to rescue his goldfish by refilling his fishbowl and throwing him back in. It’s inane and goofy but actually comes off as kind of sweet, especially he leaves a photograph of himself next to the fishbowl so Ollie won’t get lonely.
Other stand-out moments include the group arguing over whither it’s appropriate for a grown man to refer to his penis as a “winky” or keeping a coffee table clean by covering it with newspaper. The gang meets the mob boss at a restaurant. They repeatedly steal his calamari, Conway goes into a sneezing fit, Korman constantly has to backtrack over his partner’s mistakes, and Stump crawls under the table to keep it form wobbling. Another funny moment involves Johnathan Winter’s extended cameo as an eccentric truck driver.
“The Longshot” is really a showcase for Conway and his friends. There’s not a whole lot of Paul Bartel here and I suspect it was a work-for-hire job for him. Despite that, it’s actually one of the director’s better films from his mid-eighties output. It’s a fairly light-weight, disposable, kind of forgettable comedy that still is good for a handful of healthy laughs. [Grade: B-]