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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_americanfable-poster_web

American Fable

American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.

Thumb_get_out

Get Out

We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.

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…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Sundance Archives

Reviews

The Beverly Hillbillies

  |  

When directors make a wonderful movie, you look forward to their next one with a special anticipation, thinking maybe they've got the secret. If it turns out they don't, you feel almost betrayed. That's how I felt after "The Beverly Hillbillies," one of the worst movies of this or any year.

Advertisement

Its director is Penelope Spheeris. She directed "Wayne's World," that inventive and amusing 1992 film about a couple of nerds running a cable talk show out of their basement. The movie had a spirit to it, a style, and I guess I thought maybe that would carry over to Spheeris' next project.

It didn't. Imagine the dumbest half-hour sitcom you've ever seen, spin it out to 93 minutes by making it even more thin and shallow, and you have this movie. It's appalling. It's not even really a good version of whatever it was that made the TV series appealing. And it certainly doesn't add the kind of spin and quality we expect when we go to the movies.

"The Addams Family" (no great shakes itself) improved on the TV show by adding inventive production design and special effects, and plugging in some talented actors. The "Batman" movies exist in another universe than the TV show or the comic books. But this "Beverly Hillbillies" seems to have been made with serene self-confidence, as if all the movie had to do was preserve the vacuous inanity of the original series.

Advertisement

The plot could function basically as a set-up for the TV show.

We meet the Clampetts down on the farm, where, after a prologue that takes forever, they strike oil and become billionaires. Then they load up the old truck, move to Beverly Hills, and run afoul of a financial adviser (Lily Tomlin), a banker (Dabney Coleman) and Dolly Parton, who is the best thing in the movie simply by virtue of having almost nothing to do with it.

Jim Varney plays Jed, Cloris Leachman is Granny, Erica Eleniak (from "Under Siege") is daughter Elly May, and Diedrich Bader has the dual role of Jethro and Jethrine. Collectively, they have the air of a firing squad victim told he will be shot unless he keeps on talking.

Advertisement

Did the filmmakers believe there was some desire on the part of the filmgoing public to see a movie that was no more than a recycled TV show? Did Spheeris and her four writers abandon all ambition to transform and improve the material? Didn't anyone (Spheeris herself, for example) look at "Wayne's World" and see there a fresh, high-energy approach that was dismally lacking in the "Hillbillies" retread? Here is a film with all of the wit of the road kill that supplies not one but two of the lesser jokes.

Popular Blog Posts

Oscar's History of Pickiness

At the ripe age of 89, Oscar can still be a notoriously picky fellow when it comes to what constitutes a contender fo...

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

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

Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" an Unfunny Parody of Sadness

A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.

If We Picked the Winners 2017

The RogerEbert.com staff picks for the Oscars.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus