Picks and Pans Review: Club Paradise

updated 07/28/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/28/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Like the recent Water, which it closely resembles, this comedy set in the Caribbean is frustrating. Not that it isn't funny. It is full of thoughtful, original humor that never relies on obscenity or cruelty and entertains its audience without pandering to it. The frustration comes from the feeling that an all-time great film, not just a good one, should come from a cast that includes Robin Williams, Peter O'Toole, Twiggy, reggae singer Jimmy Cliff, Steven (Newhart) Kampmann and the bulk of the SCTV alumni association—Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty among them. Williams, playing a retired Chicago fireman who moves to an island and uses his disability-settlement money to buy into a rundown resort run by Cliff, is subdued. He gets his laughs with dry delivery; when a racist visitor waxes nostalgic for the productivity of the days of slavery, Williams says, "Yeah, a good day's work for a good day's beating." Twiggy is captivating as Williams' lover and O'Toole, as the British governor of the island, all but gives dissipation a good name. Among the others, Levy and Moranis sustain a funny subplot as inept woman chasers (both named Barry), and the extraordinary Martin exploits her role as a yuppie wife looking for thrills. When a lost and hungry group of resort guests spots some sugarcane, Martin huffs, "I'm not about to eat real sugar." Levy answers, "All right, fine, we'll find you a Sweet 'n Low field." Director Harold (National Lampoon's Vacation) Ramis, who co-wrote the film with Brian Doyle-Murray, never stoops for an easy laugh. He seems capable, however, of making a movie with more momentum than this—one where the jokes build on each other instead of just sprouting up. (PG-13)

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