Whether you are aware of it or not, you have seen a film by Cannon Films. Have you ever watched such features as Death Wish, the insane musical called The Apple (I seriously recommend getting the RiffTrax cut of that one), Breakin’ and its infamously titled sequel, Missing in Action, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Masters of the Universe or even the greatest film about arm wrestling every made Over the Top? If you have, you’ve seen a Cannon film.
The company started modestly in the late 60s but began to rise to prominence due to the diligent salesmanship of two Israeli cousins by the name of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. They frantically went after making many low budget films with an emphasis being on quantity over quality. They would rise in prominence and quickly make a name for themselves in Hollywood due to the sheer number of films they would create each year. They would go down in history as an ambitious company that ultimate was destroyed by its desire to over-saturate the market but they would forever change the way films are made and the entire movie landscape.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a 2014 Australian documentary by Mark Hartley that was recently added to Netflix’s streaming service and it follows the company from their humble beginnings of taking Swedish soft-core porns and making English language versions to the point when their library became a part of MGM and all the way to the time when everything unraveled and the company ended up losing so much money that the partners who created it had to go their separate ways.
It’s never easy to review a documentary because, depending on the subject material it is covering and how engaging it is, technical know-how and presentation can easily take a backseat to the substance it is presenting. I’ve seen my fair share of docs that were produced poorly but contained enough interesting content that I walked away still feeling satisfied and informed. Electric Boogaloo doesn’t contain any such downfalls because the feature has a slick presentation. It’s filled with archival footage of the two cousins, fun and informative interviews from a slew of producers, directors, stars and writers who’ve worked with the company over the course of its existence and it’s all presented in a very smooth and flowing way that never hits any boring parts and showcases their history in a nice, linear fashion.
The interviews are amusing as it’s a collection of people who love and respect Golan and Globus and people who have less than favorable opinions of them. Sometimes, documentaries like this can come off all fluff as they either refuse to show the dark times or acknowledge differences of opinion or the filmmakers do their best to edit or spin the stories into a positive light. This is where Electric Boogaloo shines the brightest because the only real agenda the documentary is showing is a telling of the history and they let the people who worked with or at the company express their opinion. At no point is this doc trying to tell you that Cannon was a bad or great company but rather it’s trying to show you the impact they had on films, filmmaking and those that worked for them.
The only real downside of the film is the fact that neither Golan or Globus are interviewed in order to express their perspective but the reason for this is revealed in the film and it’s a very fitting and amusing reason that I won’t give away for Spoilers sake. Overall, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a perfect documentary for people who have a love for movies. Whether you are a film historian that is insanely interesting with the tent pole companies that made Hollywood what it is or you find the process of filmmaking to be interesting or even if you just watch films because you like them, this is a documentary that is easy to get into and really hard to stop watching.
Rev. Ron is a frequent contributor to The Robot’s Pajamas, a guy who foolishly thinks he can perform Shakespeare in a troupe that only performs the man’s plays while drunk and he has the odd dream of being movie critic. You can read more of his reviews over at his blog; RevRonMovies.BlogSpot.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@RevRonster) and read off some really lame jokes he tweets.