What I remember most about seeing Octopussy in the summer of 1983 is that my overprotective mother actually took me, then 12, and my 9-year-old brother to see a movie titled Octopussy. This was, after all, a woman who forbade us from rewatching Grease 2 because it was “too racy,” and yet here was a film more or less bearing the name Eight Vaginas. I guess because it was a 007 adventure, it was deemed okay.
The only other things I remember about it was that James Bond snuck through a lagoon in a tiny submersible disguised as a crocodile, which is pretty cool, and that James Bond dressed up as a goddamn circus clown, which is not. So how in the hell did I forget the most cringeworthy part: James Bond swinging on jungle vines as Johnny Weissmuller’s famous Tarzan yell yodel-ay-hee-hooed on the soundtrack?
I have a theory: Because Octopussy makes for a dreadfully dull picture. If it isn’t quite the single-worst entry of the franchise, it can take a quantum of solace that its Rita Coolidge theme song is.
Officially the 13th 007 installment — and the penultimate go-round for Roger Moore — the pic gets off to a good start as our secret-agent hero pilots a one-man plane out of a horse’s ass, but in this series, those pre-credit sequences — all part of the tried-and-true formula — have zip to do with the story that follows. That to-do involves Fabergé eggs, nuclear weapons and Maud Adams’ nether regions — a full seven uteri short than what’s promised.
The only Bond Girl to play two leads, having brightened The Man with the Golden Gun, Adams fills the role of villainess and, of course, but one of Bond’s conquests; every woman with whom he comes in contact wants to bed him — even the menopausal ones. (Yes, you, Miss Moneypenny.) How did 007 not contract the AIDS virus?
Because he’s a master of escape, duh. Those chase scenes are when John Glen (in his second of five turns as 007 director, from For Your Eyes Only to A View to a Kill) seems to wake up and rouse the film along with him. Standing out is the sequence in which Bond, in a three-wheeled taxi, is pursued through a crowded marketplace in India and utilizes the stereotypical sword swallowers and fire walkers to best his enemies. Those bits are intentionally amusing, but shoved among them is a supremely silly sight gag on tennis that has no business being here; I suspect producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli stuck it in just to nudge and wink at his buddies back at the club. —Rod Lott