Bill Cosby plays Leonard Parker, a CIA spy-turned-restaurateur. According to the opening sequence of the movie, the title refers to the idea that this film is actually the sixth installment of a series of films featuring the adventures of Leonard, as parts one through five were locked up in the interests of world security. In actuality, there are no films preceding this one.
The theatrical release poster points out that Leonard Parker is, at the time of his reluctant return to action, coping with domestic issues:
"His daughter is engaged to a man old enough to be his father.
His estranged wife behaves like she is younger than their daughter.
And now his government has asked him to save the world. Again."
The film starts with Parker being called out of retirement by his CIA director Snyderburn (Baker) to save the world from evil vegetarian Medusa Johnson (Foster), who brainwashes animals to kill people. The film ends with Leonard infiltrating Johnson's headquarters (an "International Tuna" factory), fending off the vegetarians with magic meat he received from a Gypsy, freeing the captive animals, and flooding the base using Alka-Seltzer. He escapes by riding an ostrich across the roof; the unlikely steed flies him to the ground.Bill Cosby as Leonard Parker
Tom Courtenay as Frayn
Joe Don Baker as Nick Snyderburn
Moses Gunn as Giorgio Francozzi
Gloria Foster as Medusa Johnson
Pat Colbert as Allison Parker
Victoria Rowell as Joan Parker
John Hostetter as Adams
The movie received overwhelming negative reviews. When the film was released in 1987, even Cosby himself said that he was so disappointed with it that he publicly advised people not to waste their money on it.
The Los Angeles Times wrote: "'Leonard Part 6' is a smug, tedious exercise in self-indulgence ... There's virtually nothing to laugh at in this film, and too much of everything else." The Times noted that, although Weiland was the director, "clearly Cosby, as star, producer and idea man (writer), is the auteur here."
Weiland was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director. Asked years later about his work on the film, Weiland recalled:
"It was a terrible mistake. ... When anyone gets into that position (Bill Cosby's position of power in the 1980s), they are surrounded by sycophants and no one tells them the truth. But Cosby just wasn't funny. I couldn't tell him directly. I'd say it feels slow, and he'd say, 'You worry about construction, let me worry about funny.'"
Caryn James of The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Cosby and the director, Paul Weiland, were reportedly at odds while filming Leonard Part 6, which opens today at Cine 1 and other theaters, but there's plenty of blame for them to share. Mr. Weiland's direction, Mr. Cosby's story and Jonathan Reynolds's screenplay seem equally trite."
The movie was a box office flop, and thanks in part to Cosby's advice on the film, it only grossed $4,615,255—a mere fraction of its $24 million budget.
The movie won three Golden Raspberry Awards, for Worst Actor (Cosby), Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay (Jonathan Reynolds and Cosby). It was nominated for two more Razzie Awards, for Worst Supporting Actress (Foster) and Worst Director (Weiland). A few weeks after the ceremony, Cosby accepted his three Razzies on Fox's The Late Show. He demanded that the three Razzies he earned be specifically made out of 24 karat (99.99%) gold and Italian marble, which were later paid for by Fox. Cosby himself later brought the awards with him when he was a guest on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, happily displaying them and proclaiming, "I swept the awards!" For the 2005 Razzies, the movie earned a nomination in the Worst "Comedy" of Our First 25 Years category.
Leonard Part 6 was released by Columbia Pictures on DVD, on April 26, 2005.