In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_wieziu4bw15rhb3nt58mcbpgv3r

When Marnie Was There

It is filled with the luscious, beautiful 2D animation that we’ve come to expect from Ghibli, and if the storytelling sometimes gets a bit lethargic…

Thumb_jrz5dbcqdqtrdfxq1yhmdcqy6yd

Sunshine Superman

I found Jean Boenish’s philosophical musings less than persuasive. And I don’t think my fear of heights was the reason for my bias.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Cannes Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives

Reviews

Last Resort

  |  

Nobody plays a low-key middle American better than Charles Grodin. He speaks softly and politely, and nods a lot, and agrees with everything that's said, and inside you can sense this tremendous anger, coiled up like a spring. In "Last Resort," he takes his family on a doomed vacation to a sleazy beach club in a banana republic, and when the guerrillas surround him with machineguns, he nods and says, "I'm on your side. I'm just another stupid American." He used some of the same low-key hostility not long ago in an extraordinary appearance on the "Tonight" show, where he seemed to make Johnny Carson uncomfortable with his deadpan questions, such as, who is the real Johnny Carson? What does he want? Is he happy? Is there meaning in his life? Carson, increasingly restless, finally observed that Grodin never appears on the show except to plug something. Not true, said Grodin, but then he plugged this movie.

The funny thing is, if more of Grodin's passive-aggressive style were in "Last Resort," it might be a better movie. He spends too much time waving his arms and reacting as if he were Jerry Lewis, when what the movie needs is a guy who stands in the middle of anarchy, and tries to be nice to the anarchists.

The movie stars Grodin as an unsuccessful chair salesman who decides it is time for a change, and takes his family to Club Sand, a low-rent tropical resort ripoff that is, he finds out too late, devoted mainly to swinging singles and mate-swapping.

This is not a luxury getaway. The walls are paper thin, the roof leaks, the food is served prison-style on tin trays and the entertainment consists of assorted transvestites and failed comics in a revue of flops from the past. Nobody is nice in this place. Like Club Med, they won't take your dollars; they want you to use play money instead. Unlike Club Med, the way they explain this policy is to spit on Yankee dollars.

There are countless comic possibilities in "Last Resort," most of them unrealized. The movie seems to have depended on a concept rather than a screenplay. Characters are set up, and never pay off. For example, Grodin and his wife have three children, but only one of them - a precocious troublemaker - is really developed. The other two (a moody teenage boy and a lustful teenage girl) kind of drift around the edges of the frame, always about to do something funny, but never delivering.

The press release explains that "Last Resort" was an attempt to prove that people could still make movies on low budgets and have fun.

The film was shot on Catalina for less than a million dollars. Even so, it's not funny. Look at Bill Murray's "Meatballs,' a similar low-budget summer camp comedy that was fairly funny, and which knew this lesson: No matter how cheap you go, you shouldn't skimp on the screenplay.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Bill Murray, iPhones and Our One-Handed Species

An essay on how technology has rendered us a one-handed species.

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

"2001" -- The Monolith and the Message

Good parables explain themselves. After you have read the story of Lazarus in the Bible, you don't need anyone to exp...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus