Friday, November 16, 2012

Water (1985)

Water is an interesting little oddity from 1985 that stars Michael Caine as the governor of a small island in the Caribbean that is still under British rule.  The Brits are looking to relocate the populace and use the island as a nuclear waste dump; an American oil company (headed by Fred Gwynne) has discovered a fount of high-end spring water worth a fortune (turns out in addition to tasting great it also acts as a mild laxative), Caine's marriage is a mess and the scent of revolution is in the air...As long as you consider two guys looking to bring about freedom by way of music to be a revolution.  France and Cuba also get involved as does Valerie Perrine as an environmental activist looking to ensure the safety of the island's bat population.

As you can tell, Water is rather jam-packed with characters and subplots and the fact that it works at all is nothing short of a miracle.  Caine is solid as usual, providing the film with a much-needed anchor as he plays the rather lackadaisical but good-hearted governor who maintains a dry sense of humor while pretty much everybody else is running around like a bunch of manic nuts through a plot that peters out about an hour in.

Scottish comedy legend Billy Connolly is funny but woefully underused as a revolutionary who has vowed only to sing until the island is free (Connolly used to be a folk singer and he contributes a song or two to the soundtrack.

Apart from him, the rest of the cast is solid enough for what the material requires.  Fred Gwynne is amusing as usual; Jimmie Walker has a small role as the local radio DJ, Brenda Vaccaro is rather hammy as Caine's wife, Leonard Rossiter is entertainingly clueless in his final role as the British official trying to get a share of the water rights by financing Connolly's revolution and the overall feel of the movie is pleasant.

The cast isn't enough though, as the film gradually loses steam as it wears on.  There are too many plots and not enough care went into making them into a cohesive story.   The climax is an impromptu concert for the island at the UN featuring Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and a few others while Caine tries to stop a French incursion that comes out of nowhere (they're pissed that Perrier has competition).  Not a real gut buster of a finale.

Water was made by the production company Handmade Films, co-owned by former Beatle George Harrison.  They've put out some interesting movies over the years such as this one, a couple Monty Python films and the awesome crime drama The Long Good Friday.  Water is a pleasant but uneven and jumbled comedy that has some funny bits, a typically good Michael Caine performance and is an amusing satire of British colonialism and American big business.  It's worth checking out for Caine's agreeable performance providing you're not expecting the second coming of satire.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.