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Club Paradise

Warner Bros. // PG-13 // February 14, 2006
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted February 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

The 1980s were pretty good to funnyman Robin Williams. After starting off on the wrong foot with 1980's Popeye (a movie I love, thanks very much) he made several solid splashes in movies like The World According to Garp (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), and Dead Poets Society (1989). In between those well-admired flicks and the praise that comes with strong performances in box office winners, however, Robin Williams also popped up in a whole bunch of semi-forgotten misfires.

Among the lesser-beloved Robin Williams flicks of the 80s we have The Survivors (1983), The Best of Times (1986), and (to an extent) Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. All three were box office failures, and all three are movies I like a whole lot.

But then there's Club Paradise, which hit the screens in 1986, and really annoyed the hell out of me when I first saw it. (Mainly because it's a limp-premise one-joke affair that offers zero in the laughs department, or so I felt when I was 14 years old.) So it's sad to note that after revisiting the thing after almost two decades ... it still stinks. And if there's one thing worse than a laughless comedy, it's a laughless comedy that...

...stars Robin Williams, Rick Moranis, Peter O'Toole, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Joe Flaherty, Robin Duke, Mary Gross, and Brian Doyle-Murray.

...was directed by Harold Ramis, the man who (prior to 1986) gave us Caddyshack and National Lampoon's Vacation. Following the failure that was Club Paradise, Ramis took a seven-year vacation from the director's chair, but came back in 1993 with Groundhog Day, which, as anyone can tell you, is an absolutely fantastic piece of comedy filmmaking.

...was clearly conceived as "professional vacation" to be spent in the island paradise of Jamaica, where a bunch of old SCTV & SNL pals could get paid for slapping together a really weak and plainly flimsy production.

Plot in a nutshell: Jack Moniker (Robin Williams) is a Chicago fireman who has an accident, lands a large pension, and heads off to the Caribbean island of St. Nicholas to enjoy a lazy life of leisure. Jack's new pals are a musician named Ernest (Jimmy Cliff) and a stuffy Brit called Hayes (Peter O'Toole), and together they decide to open up a Club Med-type resort, much to the chagrin of the local (and villainous) prime minister, who needs the resort shut down so he can close a massive real estate deal.

In come the boisterously one-note vacationers; there's a horny duo of sleazebags, a skeptical travel reporter, a loveless married couple hoping for a spark, etc. The bulk of Club Paradise consists of this kind of schtick:

--Rick Moranis getting lost while windsurfing.

--Andrea Martin parasailing into a tree.

--Eugene Levy getting naked enough to show his amusingly hairy physique.

Irritatingly disjointed, consistently unamusing, and so blandly directed that you're sure Harold Ramis was either stoned, drunk, or half-asleep throughout the shoot, Club Paradise feels like it was inspired by a People Magazine article, and stretched out into feature length through the dubious overuse of sketch-type comedy droppings.

A unfunny comedy is an unpleasant thing, but an unpleasant comedy from this cast and this director is borderline infuriating.

The DVD

Video: It's an anamorphic widescreen affair, albeit one of those "matted" transfers I hear so much about on the geek fora. Picture quality is pretty solid, especially considering the vibrant locale, but there's still a tacky little grain-sheen that runs throughout the flick.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English or French, with optional subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Extras:

Just the Club Paradise theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts

To be completely fair, there's one scene about halfway through that has a few true chuckles in it. It's a throwaway conversation between Williams and O'Toole, but the devilishly surly ol' Brit comes up with a few choice phrases that are pure gold.

Unfortunately this scene represents about 45 seconds of a movie that runs about 92 minutes.

(Oh, and wait till you see the clothes worn by uber-nerd-studs Moranis & Levy. Funny as hell.)

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