Stiff Upper Lips

Eventually, it was bound to happen, regardless if anyone actually wanted it or not. Stiff Upper Lips is the movie that parodies the elegant British period pieces, especially movies such as Merchant Ivory's Howard's End and A Room With A View. These are beautifully filmed; wonderfully acted movies based on novels by E. M. Forster show what is usually missing in American movies. However, now we are dealing with a parody, which is much harder. With a lot of thought, a good parody (Airplane!, The Naked Gun) can be made, but more often than not, bad parodies abound (Mafia!, Spy Hard,...). Stiff Upper Lips falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. The subjects it parodies are not always easily recognizable by an ordinary movie watcher, but the jokes are nonstop, and the film is funny.

The movie follows a very incompetent turn of the century British family as they travel for a summer. Aunt Agnes (Prunella Scales from Fawlty Towers) is the matriarch of the family, trying to marry off her twenty-two year old niece Emily (Georgina Cates from Clay Pigeons). Her nephew Edward (Samuel West, Notting Hill) has just returned from Eton with his friend Cedric (Robert Portal). Edward is a bumbling idiot, and Cedric is secretly attracted to him. When Agnes catches sight of Cedric, she decides that Emily will wed him. However, Emily wants no part of Cedric, who is rude and prone to quoting classical authors. She is more interested in George, the lowly farmer (Sean Pertwee, Leon the Pig Farmer) who rescued her from drowning. They fall in love, but she cannot marry George, since he is far below Emily in social standing. For reasons too ridiculous to mention (it starts with a disgruntled butler who vents his aggression by urinating in the food) the family, Cedric, and George go on holiday, first in Italy and later in India, where they meet English plantation owner Horace (Sir Peter Ustinov).

As in all movie parodies, the jokes are non-stop, with some falling flat and others connecting very well. Luckily, most of the jokes can be understood without having to be a big fan of period pieces. The movie exploits every stereotype of the repressed Brit. The family is marvelously stupid, and completely ignorant of the fact. Director Gary Sinyor also manages to do a magnificent job mocking other beautiful movies. Stiff Upper Lips is beautifully filmed on location on the Isle of Man, Italy, and India. In these beautiful settings, Emily runs over bridges and through the forest for no apparent reason. George constantly poses like someone on the cover of a romance novel. Cedric's constant advances on Edward are completely lost. Some of the more literary references may be lost, but there are plenty of visual gags and low brow humor to be understood by everyone. Above all, this is a strange little movie that should probably be seen just so you can say you saw it.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Not rated, but some sexual inneundo.

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