You'll have to forgive Judge Brett Cullum for feeling that his personal definition of "paradise" doesn't necessarily include Robin Williams...
Jack Moniker: I heard about this guy in Cicero, well he stiffed a loan shark, so a couple of these guys got him, cut off his arm, beat him to death with the arm, and shoved it in a food processor and made a dip out of it. Then they served it to his family at his sister's wedding. And the sister loved it so much, she wanted the recipe. It's a crazy world, isn't it?
Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire) has had a stunning career, considering most people first became aware of him from a couple of silly cameos on Happy Days in his signature role of Mork from Ork. He's appeared in many delightful comedies, and intense dramas that make you want to weep for the underdog or whatever teacher he happens to be playing. He's an American icon, and many of his movies are classics. Unfortunately, Club Paradise is not one of them. It's a nice diversion, but hardly up there with his more notable projects.
Facts of the Case
Robin plays Jack Moniker, a fireman who takes an early retirement due to an injury, and winds up on a tropical island called St. Nicholas. He lives at the titular Club Paradise, and soon becomes a partner in the operation of the resort. Problem is, the resort is targeted by the island government to be closed due to a development project, and the recent batch of tourists don't seem too happy with how the resort compares to the brochure. Can Robin work his magic, and help save the island's shabbiest yet biggest-hearted resort?
The best reason for checking out Club Paradise is the cast, which features some notable comedy stars: Rick Moranis (SCTV, Strange Brew), Eugene Levy (SCTV, Best in Show), Andrea Martin (SCTV, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Joe Flaherty (SCTV), Brian Doyle-Murray(Saturday Night Live), Robin Duke (Saturday Night Live), and Mary Gross (Saturday Night Live). Most appear as hapless tourists who come to the island. Twiggy (fashion icon), Jimmy Cliff (reggae legend), Peter O'Toole (legendary actor reduced to projects like this and Supergirl), and Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner) all get to add their unique charms to the straighter roles.
Harold Ramis (The Ice Harvest) directed this fluffy affair. The plot moves along at an okay clip, and the reggae-infused soundtrack keeps things jumping. Still, with a cast like this, Club Paradise is a little bit of a letdown. The movie aims for political satire, goofy hijinks, and screwball fun. It achieves very few of these, mainly because it tries to deliver too much in a short amount of time. By the time it stumbles to a beachfront revolution climax, we're not really invested in any angle, other than we kind of like Robin Williams.
The video transfer from the matted widescreen looks its age for a movie from 1986. Colors are softly muted, and there is a constant wash of grain over the image. Audio options are limited to an English stereo mix and a French dub, also in two channels. The good news is the source print is clean, with few scratches or dirt to interfere with your viewing. And it's probably the first time Club Paradise has been seen in its original aspect ratio since its theatrical run.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Somewhere in all this obvious buffoonery, there's a gentle satire about cultural wars within South America and the Caribbean. As a direct extension, you could see it as a counterculture high-five to the ganja-smoking hippies sticking it to "the man." Well-meaning Rastas take on the British Imperialists that have kept them in servitude since Colonial times. And there's Twiggy in the middle of all this, on the right side of the battle. She made her name as the first "working class" British model, so she is an appropriate choice to champion the rights of the oppressed. One could formulate a coherent doctoral thesis for graduate level film school on this one.
You buying any of this? Me neither. I stole the idea of the movie's academic significance from an IMDb post authored by someone who obviously smokes a little weed too often. I can honestly say that at least Club Paradise is pleasant for what it is. It has an amiable charm that can't be denied. That's not saying it's very funny, but it does pass the time painlessly for the most part.
You could do a lot worse than Club Paradise, but then again you could do a lot better. Fans of the film will be excited that finally we get to see the film in widescreen, which provides a nicer look at the Caribbean setting. Unfortunately we are offered no extras, and only a competent transfer. It's simply a bare-boned catalog title for Warner Brothers.
Guilty of being a star-studded, middle-of-the-road '80s comedy. Club Paradise is here if you want it, but don't expect it to live up to the brochure.
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