Stiff Upper Lips
Dir: Gary Sinyor
Star: Sean Pertwee, Georgina Cates, Timothy West, Robert Portal
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1998
Format: DVD R1

Edward (Samuel West) is bringing his friend Cedric (Robert Portal) back from university to meet his sister Emily (Georgina Cates). His Aunt Agnes (of the withering stare) (Prunella Scales) hopes that romance will bloom, as Emily is almost 22 and should rightfully be married by now. When the butler Hudson Junior starts to urinate in the soup working class lad George (Sean Pertwee) is volunteered by his father (Brian Glover) as cover when the group travel to Rome and India. George and Emily fall for each other but it is a love forbidden by class. Will George and Emily find a way to be together, can Agnes fend off randy plantation owner Horace, and just what are the strange sensations Edward and Cedric are feeling?

Airplane did it to disaster movies, Naked Gun did it to cop dramas, now Stiff Upper Lips does it to Merchant Ivory (E-hem!). If there was every a category of films that needed the spoof treatment it is the costume drama. Their lavish looks, soppy stories, and antiquated morals are like a wet weekend, long and very boring. So it is with a great pleasure that I come to be viewing comedy, which hopes to kick the laughs out of Africa and into a Room with a View.

Well the good news is right from the Chariots of Fire spoof beginning the jokes hit the mark. It's a mixture of well-observed spoof and sex comedy. Don't get me wrong the film isn't full of naked bodies the content is more of the nudge nudge wink wink picture postcard cheekiness. It manages to talk about sex without resorting to blatant imagery and in the terms of this comedy it is the correct way of going about things.

In many ways this is a very British film, and as such you would have to question its portability to a world audience. There are superb jokes regarding private schools, talking Latin, and the rajah but all of this may leave some viewers out in the cold. It is a good job the more base humor described previously is of universal appeal. However if you have watched a few costume dramas you will appreciate just how many of the genres targets it hits and if you enjoy a bit of smut and you get the British jokes then you will have a riot.

Shot in Rome, India and the Isle of Man (ok it's doubling for England) the scenery is spectacular and this helps the film get the feel of a real costume drama. Another massive plus is the talented cast. With quite a few well known names in the cast it is pleasing to find that every one from Sean Pertwee to Peter Ustinov on top form and having fun with the jolly spiffing script.

This film may not appeal to everyone but it does exactly what it set out to do and that is spoof the Merchant Ivory films (lets face it they were just asking for it). Personally I find it very funny with so many jokes that some are missed upon the first viewing. It looks good, has a great cast and a sharply funny script. In short this film deserved much more attention than it got, as it is one of the best spoofs out there. Now, I want my sexual awakening and I want it now!

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Remarkably good picture.
Audio Dolby Surround Again fine but this is dialogue intensive so nothing much is asked of it.
Features Trailer
Verdict A fine transfer and almost nothing else. It was nver a major film but a little more effort wouldn't have gone a miss.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home