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  Water A Wash Out
Year: 1985
Director: Dick Clement
Stars: Michael Caine, Valerie Perrine, Brenda Vaccaro, Leonard Rossiter, Billy Connolly, Dennis Dugan, Fulton Mackay, Jimmie Walker, Dick Shawn, Fred Gwynne, Felicity Dean, William Hootkins, Maureen Lipman, Alfred Molina, Ruby Wax, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Cascara is a tiny, sunny and windswept island nation in the Caribbean whose inhabitants are still under British rule, mainly because nobody is particularly bothered about winning independence. Nobody except two rebels who wish to achieve that very goal, and this morning they attempt to do so by taking over the local radio station, an act for which they are promptly arrested, though at their trial Governor Baxter Thwaites (Michael Caine) shows leniency, mostly because he doesn't want to create martyrs and also because the jail is being redecorated...

But there's something about the island which nobody could have guessed, and that's discovered by the massive Spenco corporation drilling for oil there. Not that they find the black gold, but they do find some delicious mineral water which they could make a lot of money from - or somebody could as the British government are suddenly very interested in the island after a hundred years of indifference. As you can see this film did not want for plot, and that was part of the problem: it was so busy that it seemed to wheel on another famous face to perform another item of schtick every five minutes.

The other part of the problem being that none of it was funny, if anything it was incredibly boring as you watched a talented cast get to grips with a script that mistook broad aims at obvious targets for biting satire. It was the then-recent Falklands War which had apparently inspired the mayhem here, not the most hilarious of subjects but keen satirists have done more with less, yet here seasoned scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (working with Bill Persky) displayed a baffling lack of good humour, as if their mirthless lines would be brought to life by the cast, not something much in evidence in this case. Indeed, by the end it had grown uncomfortably cringeworthy, singalong and all.

Water was one of the productions of George Harrison's Handmade Films, which had a pretty good go at supplying British pictures in the barren landscape of eighties British moviemaking, where much of the money being provided was from television. Harrison even appeared in this with celebrity bandmates such as Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton, making this come across more than ever to be a film where many of those taking part were doing so as a signal of their goodwill towards the ex-Beatle, rather than seeing anything of tremendous comic worth or potential. With especially lame political barbs alternating with shouting, you would likely be very tired of this well before the end, but there was one reason it attracted attention back in 1985.

It wasn't because their searing insight had offended anybody, or even awoken any social conscience, it was due to one of the cast. He was television journalist Paul Heiney, who at the time was appearing in a TV programme called In At the Deep End where he would alternate each week with fellow presenter Chris Searle at trying out a job for which they had no previous training, and one week Paul secured a supporting role in a big (or so they hoped) movie, that being Water. Given the other instalment best remembered from this was where he directed a video for Bananarama for a single which flopped it might have led some to see him as a jinx of some kind, but if that made you curious all those years ago then there was some measure of satisfaction in seeing him - as a German mercenary, complete with comedy accent - being no worse than anyone else here. He's not in this till the last twenty minutes, mind you, and it is a long, long wait. Music by Mike Moran.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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