Sunday, 10 May 2009

No. 123 : Water

Michael Caine stars in this British farce, which sees a backwater dependency become a political football when high grade mineral water is discovered. The film opens in genial fashion with Caine’s island governor enjoying a spliff with the natives as he tends his dubious crops. The cosy atmosphere is interrupted however when a pair of local militants hijack the local radio station. They offer little in the way of menace however, if you discount Billy Connolly’s singing.

Elsewhere an American oil firm is using an abandoned drilling rig to shoot an commercial about how they tap recourses in out of the way places to avoid a dependency of middle eastern oil. As they shoot with Lorenzo St. Dubois out of ‘The Producers’ the platform bursts forth with gallons of mineral water which they quickly realise is worth more than motor oil. After a call to their boss, Herman Munster, they try to do a drilling rights deal with Caine.

Meanwhile in London the cost of maintaining the island leads the government to dispatch Reggie Perrin to evacuate the place as they need the labour elsewhere and could ill afford another Falklands lest the Cubans invade. Add to the party a bunch of mercenaries hired by the French to knock out a potential rival mineral water to their Perrier and a sexy environmentalist played by Miss Teschmacher out of ‘Superman’ and you can only guess at the contrivances and reversals to come.

This is a decent if unspectacular film penned by Dick Clements and Ian La Frenais and starring almost every bit part player you can think of. The farcical nature of the film demands lots of wrong foots and added layers of idiocy which at times can get a bit grating. Indeed, that lengthy plot summary misses out quite a lot and to cover everything you’d be better off just reprinting the script.

It did look like the cast had a right jolly time making the film on St Lucia and some of that does transfer onto the screen. Caine however is just going through the motions and looks daft when he joins the revolutionaries. Worse still is Brenda Vaccarro as his wife who does a terrible accent throughout despite looking rather fetching in his skimpies.

The satire wasn’t exactly of the ‘biting’ variety with obvious and lazy takes on British imperialism including Leonard Rossiter showing up in the Caribbean with an umbrella and Maureen Lipman doing the standard Maggie Thatcher impression. In the US the stereotypes were maintained with Fred Gwynne’s oil baron and Ruby Wax’s assistant particularly uninspired.

As the film reaches it’s climax the big guns are pulled out as producer George Harrison and his pals Ringo and Eric perform an unlikely concert at the United Nations but alas it’s not quite enough to save the film or possibly even the island. As the mercenaries set their charges we have to wonder if they, or the film’s box office takings, will prove the bigger bomb.

Given its high profile cast and tropical setting it’s a hard film to dislike but there aren’t enough jokes or winning performances to save the day and at best it’s closer to water than Champagne.

Best Bit : Reggie Gets Randy

‘W’ Rating 13/23

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