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Canuxploitation!

Ski School II

1995, Starring Dean Cameron, Heather Campbell, Beth Roberts, Doug Copithorne, Bil Dwyer, Will Sasso. Directed by David Mitchell.





Despite the kind of name that seems tailor made for the pages of Tiger Beat, Dean Cameron was never one of those hot teen actors. His most visible role was of the horror movie fan in the b-list teen comedy Summer School. In Ski School II, he reprises his role as the fast-talking Dave from the first film, but a slowly receding hairline makes him look a little too old to be involved in any of this stuff anymore.

The first Ski School was directed by Damian Lee (Abraxas, Food of the Gods II), but this follow-up was made by David Mitchell. Who is David Mitchell? A long time collaborator of Lee's, he wrote the first Ski School movie (and I believe this one too, under an alias), and he often acts as the producer of Lee's straight-to-video Canuxploitation efforts. He has directed several straight-to-video releases as well, including Killing Machine, a Terminator rip-off with Michael Ironside. Like Lee, he works almost exclusively in Canada.

Following Screwball Comedy etiquette, our hero Dave is surrounded by "wacky" characters identified by one stereotyped trait. These characters include Alex, the ladies man, Toddorbert, the crazy yet lovable mental case (a condition known in medical circles as Murdock Syndrome) and finally Tomcat, the John Belushi character (played here by popular BC-born comedian Will Sasso). As each character is introduced, Dave alludes to them as though they appeared in the first movie, but after a quick scan of each cast list, I can assure you that they do not.

While the first Ski School fell squarely within the Screwball category with a comfortable "rich guys vs. poor slobs skiing contest" plot, things are not so simple in the sequel. Dave's ex-girlfriend Beth now owns the ski hill that her father left to her, and is also about to get married to Steve, a sleazy rich guy who took over Dave's job as ski instructor. Dave hasn't been back to the Ski School since he lost his job, but apparently he hasn't been doing a whole lot in the meantime. When Dave gets the heartbreaking wedding invitation in the mail, he gathers his team and heads to the ski hill to try and win Beth back. Coincidentally, the hill is currently running a skiing tournament, the 'Spring Blast.'

Now from Porky's right on through to Revenge of the Nerds and down to Screwballs itself, the Screwball comedy has a sacred tradition exposing female anatomy. Ski School II is no exception. Lola, a skier competing in the Spring Blast is a painter. A nude painter. Now, wait for it she doesn't paint nudes, she paints people while she is in the nude! Get it? Get it? Hey, I didn't write it, okay?

Dave continues to weasel his way between Beth and Steve, but to no avail. After being embarrassed in the local lesbian bar, Steve finally gets tired of Dave's mischievous shenanigans. One night Steve's crony pushes Dave's bed (with Dave in it) down the slope. Dave awakes just in time to 'snowboard' his bed down the mountain and win a medal in the Spring Blast!

At about the halfway point in this 90 minute beer commercial, the plot finally makes it to the top of the Bunny Slope: Steve is just marrying Beth so he can have control of the mountain! Now feeling it is his duty to win her back, Dave sets up an elaborate plan. First, they crash a pre-wedding party at the lodge, with the sole purpose to "untighten asses." After this fails they decide to crash the bachelor and bachelorette parties. They enlist Lola to leap out of a cake at Steve's party, who handcuffs him and paints his body while Toddorbert and Tomcat take pictures from inside the cake. Then Dave tries to do a strip act at Beth's party. Beth is impressed, and over a romantic game of Electronic Battleship (?!) Dave unsuccessfully tries to tell her of Steve's ulterior motive.

At the wedding the next day, Dave and company pull out all the final stops. They steal Steve's car so he has to walk to the wedding ceremony, they put pictures of the bachelor party in the wedding programs and blow spit balls at the wedding party. These pranks may be cruel, but remember, it's all in the name of love.

The most embarrassing part of Ski School II has to be the stunt skiing. Not that it's bad or anything, but the pros who perform these tricks look absolutely nothing like the actors. Beth's stunt double's hair is almost twice as long as Beth's! This is just sloppy why not put on ski masks? In a skiing sequence where Tomcat blunders his way down a difficult hill, it looks like Dave's stunt double has shoved a pillow down the front of his pants!

Even in the hallowed halls of Comedy Headquarters (Screwball wing), Ski School: Episode Two sinks somewhere just below the average line. Although it borrows liberally from everything from Meatballs to Animal House, the characters in this movie are just too old for this. Acting wacky and drinking copiously is excusable for the young 'uns in this genre, and even for the occasional developmentally retarded character (see Belushi, John) who is part of the ensemble, but these characters are like unemployed misfits in their late 20s, and the actors themselves are probably in their early 30s. Even the people in Police Academy had jobs!

Damian Lee and David Mitchell must like to ski, since each have made several skiing movies, taking full advantage of Canada's natural settings to paint their B-movies against. As with the first in the series, Ski School II was filmed on the beautiful slopes of Whistler, BC. Just like most Lee/ Mitchell productions, no locations are ever mentioned, but it seems like this movie is supposed to take place in Whistler. Other than that, this movie doesn't really show it's red and white underbelly, although Canadians will recognize the familiar scenery and locations. Unfortunately, this is just another Porky's rip-off collecting dust in the back of the video store. In good conscious, I can't really recommend it, unless you need Dean Cameron to show you how to get your ass untightened.


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