It’s an election year, and the American public are busy weighing the issues, and judging which of the potential presidential candidates is better than the others.
To do that, of course, you have to compare them, and you would be pretty hard-pressed to find two candidates with less in common than Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump has never held an elected office, and Bernie Sanders has been an elected official for over three decades. Donald Trump is independently wealthy, and Bernie Sanders’ campaign is funded by small donations from the masses. Donald Trump doesn’t support gay marriage, and Bernie Sanders does. We could go on like this.
In fact, just about the only thing Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders do have in common is their taste in movies, because they’ve each made cameo appearances in romantic comedies, and both of those films are jaw-droppingly bad.
Donald Trump made a guest appearance in the 1989 supernatural comedy Ghosts Can’t Do It, which stars Bo Derek as a woman whose rich husband dies and then goads her into saving the family business and killing a young super-hunk so her ghost spouse can have a new body. Trump plays, basically, Donald Trump. The film won four Razzie Awards (including Worst Picture and Worst Supporting Actor: Donald Trump), and is generally considered to be one of the most terrible movies ever made.
Ten years later, Bernie Sanders made a guest appearance in the independent comedy My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception. Sanders plays “Rabbi Manny Shevitz” (har-har-har), who is just one of dozens of kooky characters milling around a post-wedding party, where the bride (Debbie Gibson) is about to learn that her new husband cheated on her with the maid of honor. The film is not generally considered in any way whatsoever, because it was barely released and not very good.
But again, it’s an election year. We can’t just say that these candidates were in two movies, we have to pit them against each other. So here we go, mano a mano, Ghosts Can’t Do It vs. My X-Girlfriend’s Reception, Donald Trump vs Bernie Sanders. Both their movies sucked, but only one can be the worst…
Ghosts Can’t Do It
Again, that plot: Bo Derek is married to Anthony Quinn, who kills himself at the beginning of the film and comes back as a ghost, forcing his wife to talk to him in public and look like a crazy person. But since she also looks like Bo Derek everyone writes off her clinical insanity as a charming quirk. Those people are, alas, the only ones who find anything about this movie “charming” or “quirky.”
Ghosts Can’t Do It is a poorly defined movie. At times it plays like a broad comedy, with Bo Derek doing silly things like dance at her ghost husband’s behest or ride an elephant for no reason whatsoever. But it also plays like the fever dream of an older man, who is terrified that his young wife will move on after his passing. So when the Anthony Quinn dies he refuses to leave Bo Derek alone, getting in the way of her other romantic relationships and vowing to possess any man she wants to have sex with, so long as she kills him first.
Sometimes the serious and wacky elements of Ghosts Can’t Do It come together in a grotesque fashion. Bo Derek has to fight to keep her dead husband’s company from a takeover by Donald Trump, but someone – maybe Trump – hires a thug to corner her naked at the hotel swimming pool. After an extended argument about whether it would be better to rape her or murder her, the hitman decides to merely drug her… with suppositories. This supposed to be funny stuff, by the way. Yikes.
John Derek directed several films with his wife Bo Derek, who was a sexual sensation in the 1980s, thanks in part to her dynamite personality but also because she was perfectly willing to get naked on camera (and she looked FABULOUS). Normally, glamour shots of Bo Derek’s gorgeous nude body on the beach are a major selling point, but in Ghosts Can’t Do It every sexy shot of the actress seems humiliating, because she’s always saying embarrassing things to her ghost husband. It’s a little hard to be aroused when the object of your sexual desire is going dangerously mad from grief in front of you.
And it’s extremely hard to be amused when the movie films all of the “ghost” scenes against a generic black backdrop, instead of putting Anthony Quinn in the scene with his co-stars, with the conceit that only Bo Derek can see him. Instead of the actor feeling like a part of the movie, Ghosts Can’t Do It seems to cast him as a wandering peanut gallery, heckling the actors and shaming the film’s star for doing anything that doesn’t involve having sex with him.
To top it all off, none of this movie makes any sense whatsoever. Yes, yes, fine, it’s a pretty silly idea to begin with but there’s no reason whatsoever why only Anthony Quinn gets to haunt his beloved and nobody else does. Julie Newmar shows up as an angel, but she never clearly explains the rules of the movie or what’s at stake, and you would think she would probably disapprove of Bo Derek committing murder to give Anthony Quinn a new body, but whatever. Sometimes she cares and sometimes she doesn’t, and for most of the movie she disappears altogether.
As for Donald Trump, he’s barely in the movie, he never emerges from behind his desk, and he purses his lips like a condescending sex offender. All two of his scenes are with Bo Derek, and he looks her right in the eye and vows to destroy her, only half-convincingly. He’s not “bad” but he’s basically playing a character who’s just like Donald Trump, so casting the actual Donald Trump is just shorthand. In short, it’s not his fault this movie sucks but he doesn’t make it any better.
Bo Derek is vibrant in Ghosts Can’t Do It, but literally every other thing about this movie sucks. My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception is going to have to be pretty damned awful to be worse than this.
My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception
Let’s get this out of the way first: My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception is a worse title than Ghosts Can’t Do It. John Derek’s film sounds dumb, but that letter “X” makes Martin Guigui’s film sound like it was made by dumb people.
But that’s not entirely fair. Unlike Ghosts Can’t Do It – which had a terrible storyline and an astounding lack of focus – the basic premise of My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception is halfway decent, especially for a low-budget comedy. It’s a “day in the life” film about a group of supposedly funny people who have all been shoved in the same room for the afternoon, because it’s a wedding reception. Big emotions and social awkwardness abound in that situation already, so adding character actors like Dom DeLuise makes perfect sense.
It’s also hard to complain too much about how bad My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception looks. IMDb claims the movie was shot on 35mm but when screened on Amazon Prime it looks like a badly compressed YouTube transfer. It’s possible that Martin Guigui’s film is supposed to look more competent than this but that poor distribution and a lack of interest has taken its tool. It’s also possible that My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception is just amateurishly shot, since it’s technically Guigui’s first film behind the camera.
Martin Guigui stars as “Max Tune,” who learns that his band is playing his ex-girlfriend’s wedding, and that – again – her husband cheated on her the night before, and with her maid of honor. That’s a low-key comedic set-up, but that’s hardly a crime. (So are films like Clerks and The Brothers McMullen and those turned out pretty well.) The problem is that in this film, Max uses that information to connive his ex, Debbie Gibson, into emotionally manipulative situations. So we hate this guy in every way possible.
We also hate most of the people who talk to the camera in My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding, since one of the film’s conceits is that the video testimonials from the reception are being intercut into the plot. Most of these skits sound are either poorly written or poorly ad-libbed, and none of them are memorable. Sadly, this holds true for most of the comedy in the movie, which plays like a series of rejected comedy sketches from an unpopular season of Saturday Night Live. At best they’re droll, and at worst they are a little insufferable.
But credit goes to Dom DeLuise, who plays the priest and, for a change, the straight man. Few character actors were ever as flamboyantly “comic” as Dom DeLuise, but Martin Guigui wisely let him simply watch the other actors try to out-Dom DeLuise the real Dom DeLuise, and the real Dom DeLuise elicits more laughs by exiting his scenes with an eye-roll than most of the other actors do by staying there and telling jokes.
Which brings us to Bernie Sanders, who plays Rabbi Manny Shevitz (again, I say har-har-har). Like Trump before him, Sanders is barely in the movie, but he does have a whole monologue. It’s not a very funny monologue, but he has one. He gets up on stage, tries to say something about the bride and groom, and winds up prattling on about baseball instead. It’s barely a joke but Sanders is convincing: you really do believe he would rather talk about baseball than actually be a part of this film.
My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception has four laughs in it. I counted. It’s not entirely painful to watch it but if you weren’t researching the acting career of Bernie Sanders there wouldn’t be much reason to see it from beginning to end.
Which Film Is Worse…?
Ghosts Can’t Do It. Every time. Holy cow, that’s one terrible film.
Ghosts Can’t Do It is so bad it makes you want to pour acid into your eyes. My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception is just kind of bad, so it makes you want to watch something else. It’s an amateurish film but not an uncomfortable one, whereas Ghosts Can’t Do It is technically proficient but depressing.
Like I said, there are four laughs in My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception. That’s nothing to brag about, but at least it’s four more than Ghosts Can’t Do It, which seems to only exist as a strange form of catharsis for people who get off on watching Bo Derek humiliate herself. My X-Girlriend’s Wedding Reception seems to exist as a practice film for a filmmaker who was just getting started in the industry, and that’s not such a bad thing. Not really.
As for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, it’s tough to compare them as actors. Donald Trump mostly had to squint and be Donald Trump, whereas Bernie Sanders had to deliver a whole, poorly written monologue. Trump was merely adequate at doing very little, and Sanders was pretty good at doing something lame. It should probably be a tie, but we’ll give the slight edge to Bernie Sanders for going to all the trouble of memorizing more than one sentence at a time for a movie called My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception.
So there you have it: Donald Trump vs. Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders won. If this turns out to be an actual prediction of the presidential election, we will take all of the credit for our hard-hitting political reporting. And if this doesn’t predict the presidential election, we just wasted so many hours of our lives.
Seriously, these movies were terrible.
Top Photos: Joe Raedle / Getty Images North America (left); Joshua Lott / Getty Images North America (right)
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.