Monday, June 05, 2006

Paul McCartney - Spies Like Us (1985)

* (of four)

Boy, the '80s were rough on Paul McCartney - or was McCartney rough on the '80s? The entire decade just existed in this gleeful, talentless vaccuum for him. "Ebony and Ivory," Give My Regards To Broadstreet, "The Girl is Mine," the Christmastime he had that was simply wonderful. All big, steaming heaps of elephant shit. Add to the list another video of which I was completely unaware, the title track to Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd's road movie rip Spies Like Us.

Mind you, if you're 28 like me and were raised on the original SNL generation's string of bad comedies, you're likely to think of Spies Like Us as a cult classic in its own right. But you've probably never happened upon this McCartney promo video at 3:30 in the morning on VH1 Classic. The SLU video is almost unbelievably awful, and it was made with the full participation of Aykroyd and Chase, who ham it up on full-tilt Reagan-era coke buzzes.

The three rhythmless white stars converge on Abbey Road Studios (ah, the blasphemy of it all!) in a limo, a tomato delivery truck and a double-decker bus, all wearing disguises. Before the music even starts, we're treated to McCartney in a Snidely Whiplash getup and Chevy Chase in a trenchcoat wearing comic book glasses with a pair of eyes drawn on. SLU movie clips are spread throughout, all the while.

It only gets worse. The three stars head into the studio, where Aykroyd plays air guitar behind the soundboard, Chase pretends to play keyboard and McCartney dons a multicolored Bill Cosby sweater and plays every other instrument thanks to the power of '80s video cloning. That's Bass Player Paul, Drummer Paul, Guitarist Paul and Backup Vocalist Paul, and you'd never believe any of them was responsible for anything on the White Album.

McCartney abused the video cloing technique multiple times in the '80s, perhaps most heinously in the euthanasia-inducing video for "Coming Up." Chase, meanwhile, thought he was so fucking funny in the SLU video that he graduated to even less subtle physical comedy in the award-winning Paul Simon video for "You Can Call Me Al." And Aykroyd, well, he just kept a'rockin', thanks to a limitless supply of Bolivian nose powder and dozens of House of Blues franchises.