January 10, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

Review: Spunkiness can't save lowbrow 'Dumbbells'

Fabio stars as a host of a reality show filmed at a gym in the low-budget exploitation movie 'Dumbbells.' (GoDigital)

It’s possible to mildly admire a movie’s spunk while still realizing it’s generally awful. Such is the case with “Dumbbells.”

Yes, it is a low-budget exploitation film with lots of skimpy outfits, basement-level cameos, raunchy jokes that miss more then they hit and the obligatory love story involving an angelic woman who works with underprivileged kids. Chances are you don’t ever want to see this movie.

But once seen, you have to admire the pluck of working actors Brian Drolet and Hoyt Richards, who wrote the film’s script, which starts out being about a wacky gym but eventually includes a cult that worships a faraway planet. At least they’re trying.

Drolet plays Chris, a college basketball star headed for the NBA who injures his knee. Two years later, having been dumped by his spoiled girlfriend (Mircea Monroe), he’s broke and working at a rundown gym.

Then the gym is bought by the ultra-successful Jack Guy (Richards), who renames it Dumbbells and hires Fabio to host a reality TV show there. Wackiness and many crotch-level shots ensue while Chris develops feelings for Jack’s sweet niece, Rachel (Taylor Cole).

But then Jack discovers he’s suddenly broke, thanks in part to his former involvement with a star-gazing cult. And the crotch shots are crowded out for a while by cameos from Tom Arnold, Jay Mohr, Carl Reiner and Jaleel White. A goat also shows up, for no apparent reason. Again — they’re trying.

But there’s only so much that can be done with a wacky gym story, especially when the wacky characters aren’t all that funny and the sex jokes aren’t particularly sexy. Drolet and Richards are game and goofy, but “Dumbbells” manages to be both too heavy-handed to work and too lightweight to matter.

'Dumbbells'

GRADE: D+

Not rated

Running time: 100 minutes

tlong@detroitnews.com
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