Dir: Adrian Edmondson, 1999
With the anniversary of the sad passing of Rik Mayall, a retrospective of his better known works is only right.
Guest House Paradiso was the Bottom film that everyone wanted, in lieu of a fourth series. The maniacal shenanigans and violent episodes of two unemployable and perverted sex starved losers Richard Richard (Mayall) and Edward “Eddie” Elizabeth Hitler (Adrian Edmondson), was denied another outing by, according to Mayall, “some bitch lesbian at the BBC”.
Not wanting to leave their fans starving, the comic duo took the loathsome lothario-wannabes and transported them to a decrepit hotel in the Isle of Wight…next to nuclear power station…on a cliff edge.
All the facets that made Bottom so wonderful is present here, but it’s the execution that is wrong. Edmondson is unable to adeptly direct the action, resorting to obscure quick shots that make little sense. The violence seems scaled back and lacks the crunch factor of the TV series. Edmondson and Mayall don’t go as over the top like they did in their counterparts and the humour needs a studio audience to laugh for it to work; without it, the action merely plods along with a drabness that feels longer than it actually is.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some hilarious bits, because there is; it’s just, unfortunately, not very memorable. With Edmondson directing, the film misses out on the full potential. Veteran TV director and Mrs. Ruby Wax, Ed Bye, was responsible for making the series, so he has a better grasp of the material and knows what to do with it. He would have been a better choice as director of the film.
The pair try to find a balance between the language restricted TV show and the no holds barred live performances, but miss the mark fairly widely. A single use of “cunt” results in groans rather than belly laughs.
For Guest House Paradiso to have worked best, Mayall and Edmondson shouldn’t have tried to fix what wasn’t broken; Richard’s name has changed to Richard Twat (pronounced “Thwaite”, in a gag that soon runs out of steam) and Eddie’s is now Ndingombaba. There’s no Spudgun or Dave Hedgehog; no Lamb and Flag pub or Dick Head the barman. Bottom was a world filled with shady and ridiculous characters; a world in Hammersmith where all the characters knew each other and carried ludicrous monikers like “Cannonball” Taffy O’Jones, who is married to the woman from the abattoir who looks like Ted Rogers in a dress. And let’s not forget “Dodgy” Bob McMayday: the most violent travel agent in the world.
So much of the comedy in Bottom comes from what is not seen. You don’t see these people, nor are we privy to Eddie and Richie having to eat someone’s dog because they lost a bet. This made the series so special and hilarious. But, by stripping these elements away, Rik and Ade have tsken the core out of what made everything so brilliant.
However, maybe that’s unfair to the film. Guest House Paradiso isn’t a de facto Bottom movie; it’s more of a spin off and should be judged on its own merits. But that’s incredibly difficult when it is Bottom in all but name.
Strategically amusing; when it hits the funny bone, hilarity ensues. Unfortunately, the film is too patchy and misses too often.
Better than average.