Club Paradise (1986)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Farce, Slapstick  |   Release Date - Jul 11, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Upon release in the summer of 1986, Club Paradise earned mostly dreadful reviews, with a few critical excoriations so harsh that they anticipated the bilious rants unfairly directed at Elaine May's Ishtar a year later. Looking at Paradise today, it's about as successful as the May film - i.e., neither a comedy classic nor a total disaster, competently made and fitfully enjoyable though far from truly great. It's a studio contrivance to be sure - you can almost hear the pitch of "Caddyshack, set on a Caribbean island" (and that's presumably what producer Michael Shamberg was aiming for, given the fact that 'Shack director Harold Ramis helms this and that Bill Murray was initially attached to star). Those expectations probably set the bar too high - at no point does Paradise achieve the delirious comic heights or manic inventiveness of that earlier movie. But neither does that seem to be the film's intention; as its PG-13 rating suggests, this is a much kindler, gentler entertainment than Caddyshack, that would rather weave an genial spell than go for shocking gross-out gags. As the lead, Robin Williams gives a turn that is refreshingly subdued (at least for him); as a result, he clears the way for excellent work by the SCTV-heavy supporting ensemble, especially Eugene Levy and Rick Moranis as a couple of geeky swingers anxious to get laid, Joe Flaherty as a moronic airline pilot with impaired vision, and Andrea Martin and Steven Kampmann as a married couple attempting to repair their strained relationship. Throughout the film there are numerous funny moments and scenes, such as a crisis involving the broken shower in Martin's room, a subplot involving Moranis and a disastrous sailboat excursion, and one absolutely brilliant sight gag involving a Rastafarian chef that practically makes the whole film worthwhile. The picture as a whole is uneven - you wish there were more to like - but it makes for an amiable-enough viewing experience that the harsh reviews seem way off-target. The sight of gorgeous co-star Twiggy scampering around the beach in short shorts and a t-shirt, and the easy rhythms of Jimmy Cliff's reggae music on the soundtrack, add much to the movie's pleasantries.