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  Loch Ness Pardon Me Myth
Year: 1996
Director: John Henderson
Stars: Ted Danson, Joely Richardson, Ian Holm, Harris Yulin, James Frain, Keith Allen, Nick Brimble, Kirsty Graham, Harry Jones, Philip O'Brien, Joseph Greig, John Dair, Debora Weston, Wolf Kahler, Roger Sloman, Brian Pettifer, John Savident, Richard Vernon
Genre: Comedy, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A short while ago Dr Abernathy (Philip O'Brien) was researching the possibility of the Loch Ness Monster, something he believed in even if proof was elusive, but one evening just as the sun was going down he was at the shoreline with his camera when he saw something... unfortunately he was so excited by this glimpse that as he tried to get a picture of it he fell onto the rocks and bashed his brains out. Putting this mishap behind them, the Los Angeles university which funded his expedition has assigned another professor, Dempsey (Ted Danson), who is less than pleased.

That is thanks to Professor Dempsey believing in one thing, and that is he is a laughing stock for devoting his time to cryptozoology, as nobody in the film calls it. Yes, he found some Bigfoot tracks, but the best he can say for his career is that he discovered a new variety of wasp, so the last thing he wants is to be heading off to Scotland on a wild goose chase, or indeed a wild Nessie chase. However, his arch-sceptic wanting a debunking boss (Harris Yulin) insists he go on pain of losing his job altogether, so Dempsey has no choice, but what do you think might happen to that icy exterior? Maybe it will be melted by the charm and warmth of the residents?

Well, we've all seen Local Hero and know how that ended up, so it was plain to see what the moviemakers here had in mind for the lasting effect for this would-be twinkly fantasy. However, while this being made by the British romcom exponents Working Title might have raised hopes for an Ealing comedy-style slice of Scottish whimsy, what you actually got was a lumpy splodge of touristy porridge where the Scotland depicted here had little to do with anything you might encounter in real life. Fair enough, the existence of the Loch Ness Monster was still very much up for debate even when this was made, and there was no harm in perpetuating as harmless myth.

But the locals in this film were far from the welcoming sort that you might find in the actual location, yes, they were happy for the holidaymakers to arrive because it was a boost for the economy there, but they didn't try to put anyone off visiting as Dempsey finds when he shows up, apparently about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit, when in reality every fresh excursion to investigate the monster is encouraged, mainly because it keeps the story alive. Actually Nessie hasn't been too well-served by the movies, stretching all the way back to the nineteen-thirties when the modern myth really took off, and this instance wasn't as bad as, say, Larry Buchanan's The Loch Ness Horror.

They actually filmed it in Scotland, for one thing, which did mean you got authentic scenery, though the famous peaty-brown waters in this depiction are an oddly Caribbean blue, and even more oddly there's fishing seen going on there, in spite of the fact no fish live in the loch. Not only that, but nobody appears to have a boat dating from any time newer than 1960, so Dempsey must lash his equipment to some ancient tub instead of a more appropriate, modern vessel. It is the locals he has to negotiate first, with nobody happy to see him and the readings on the dodgy accent-o-meter going off the scale; Joely Richardson is the innkeeper who practically tells him to get tae fuck the second he has the temerity to request a room, Ian Holm is some kind of laird who appears as if he has murder on his mind, and so on. Naturally Joely thaws for romantic reasons which dominate, but it's her tiny daughter (Kirsty Graham in her sole film) who steals the movie with her squeaky adage "Ye haff tae believe it before ye can see it!" That told the sceptics. Deedly-deedly-dee music by Trevor Jones.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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