"It's going to be the vacation of a lifetime!"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 12/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Producer Roger Corman utilized a number of techniques in the production of his films, two of the main ones being keeping things inexpensive (i.e. cheap) and copying off pre-existing, successful features, both of which apply to the film Last Resort (1986). Directed by Zane Buzby, in his only film to date (he has done some episodic work on television), the film stars Charles Grodin (The Lonely Guy, Midnight Run) as George Lollar, a hapless, overworked husband and father who takes his family on the vacation of a lifetime, one that quickly turns into the trip from hell. Also appearing is Robin Pearson Rose ("Grey's Anatomy"), Gerrit Graham (Used Cars), Phil Hartman (Coneheads), John Ashton (Beverly Hills Cop), Ian `Mr. Pitt' Abercrombie ("Seinfeld"), Mario Van Peebles (Jaws: The Revenge), Jon Lovitz (Rat Race), Brenda Bakke (Demon Knight), Scott Nemes ("The Wonder Years"), and Megan Mullally (Stealing Harvard), who eventually went on to find success as the catty, snobby character Karen Walker in the television series "Will & Grace".
As the film opens it's Christmas time in Chicago, the weather's rotten, and office furniture salesman George Lollar has just lost one of his company's biggest accounts. Feeling burned out he decides to take his family, including wife Shelia (Rose) and children Brad, Jessica (Mullally), and Bobby (Nemes) on a fabulous vacation to a South American resort known as Club Sands. After a plane ride that was more like a thrill ride, the family arrives to discover the place is a real dump, sans any amenities such as televisions or telephones (their rooms are little more than plywood huts with lumpy cots and inconsistent plumbing). George tries to keep things upbeat, but his family does not share in his optimistic views. Things steadily go from bad to worse, for George at least, in terms of obnoxious guests (John Ashton), overly effeminate, touchy-feely resort workers (Phil Hartman and Mario Van Peebles), and more. Once the shock settles in George's family begins to acclimate themselves in terms of his daughter making all kinds of new man friends with the hunky, straight resort workers (who tend to walk around in banana hammocks most of the time), his wife imbibing in generous doses of alcohol, among other things, his elder son hooking up with the resort bimbo, and his younger son, consigned to a junior resort that's run like a concentration camp, rebelling in certain ways, desperate to escape if only to get a glimpse of the nude beach. Turns out George is the only one not having any fun as his uptight attitudes get him into all sorts of embarrassing predicaments. The situation eventually deteriorates to the point where guerilla rebels invade the resort, the hopes being they'll snag a few wealthy guests for undetermined purposes (I'm guessing ransom, but it's not entirely clear).
I mentioned earlier Roger Corman had a tendency to copy off of pre-existing, successful films, and Last Resort is no different as it's basically a play off of National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), only not nearly as well done. I will say having Charles Grodin starring in the film helped immeasurably as even with the material here being as shoddy as it was, he still provided for some of the funniest moments. I actually did laugh out loud a few times, but the comedy, which started off strong, tends to drop off seriously as the film wears on particularly due to the fact there's not much of a story here. I think my favorite part of the film comes after the first night the Lollar family spends at the resort, as George and Sheila are awoken early the next morning by Phil Hartman's fruity character walking into their hut, announcing loudly the start of aerobic classes, to which George replies in turn, "GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!" Believe me, it's a lot funnier on screen than it is described here. As far as the effeminate bits, they were funny at first, but the joke is played on to the point where it becomes kind of embarrassing, probably more so for the actors, many of who probably wouldn't mind seeing this film disappear from existence (actually this might be worth seeing if only to witness Ian Abercrombie as a swishy maitre d', mincing about in what appears to be a floppy diaper). Another funny bit is when George's wife, whacked out on shrooms, gets involved in a resort sponsored game called `Show Us Your Breasts'...while she does participate, her back is to the camera so we don't get to see anything which is too bad as according to one, overly obnoxious vacationer, they were spectacular. In terms of nekkidness, there's very little, the only bit a quick, topless flash by the resort skeez played by Brenda Bakke, who appeared in the film Demon Knight (1995) as the character Cordelia. As far as Megan Mullally I didn't even recognize her until I saw her name in the credits, as while she was pushing thirty around the time this film was released, she truly did appear to be much younger and a lot more svelte than I'm accustomed to seeing her in some of her later roles. She has no nekkid scenes, but she does appear regularly in a two-piece swimsuit, looking rather foxy. I was slightly disappointed overall in that there was a lot of true, comedic talent here (Charles Grodin, Phil Hartman, Gerrit Graham, Jon Lovitz), but the material doesn't come close to living up to many of the performers' potential...not that I was expecting it to, but still...if you're looking for a funny film, the first half hour or so may fit the bill, but know things drop off seriously after that into the realm of mildly amusing. All in all this film's worth a look if you're not too discriminating, or if you're a huge Charles Grodin fan.
The picture on this Buena Vista DVD release is presented in full frame (1.33:1) and looks decent enough, I suppose, but is nothing to write home about. You know, when Disney secured the rights to release Roger Corman's films onto DVD I had hopes that they would step up and provide some releases better than the one we were getting prior, but that never happened. As far as the audio it's in Dolby Digital stereo, and comes across okay. There's not much in the way of extras except for some cast and crew biographies, and trailers, one for this film, and two others for Eat My Dust! (1976) and Rock `n' Roll High School (1979).
Here's an interesting coincidence...remember when I mentioned Last Resort (1986) was basically a rehash of National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)? Well, turns out National Lampoon later released a film titled National Lampoon's Last Resort (1994) featuring Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. I haven't seen it but it sounds like a real winner...
Packed with future stars -- and hilarious!
Sean MacDermant | Memphis | 12/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is just classic. Charles Grodin as the straight man, surrounded by Phil Hartmann, Mario van Peebles, young John Lovitz, and other supporting actors. It's at times so stupid it is brilliant. I have seen it about 11 times.
It is an unknown cult classic. Maybe now that the DVD is coming out it will catch on."
A laugh or two
jimmy_rants@yahoo | USA | 11/15/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This cheap rip-off comedy was a popular staple on CInemax or Showtime when it came out. It is filled with some notable comics like Charles Grodin, Gerrit Graham (Used Cars), Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman, Meagan Mulally (when she was about 20 and slim) and Mario Van Peebles. The talent pool can't balance out the bad writing, a joke or two will hit but as a whole picture, it's void of great laughs.
It's interesting to see how producer Roger Corman hurried this one out. The main location is a tropical island resort and Corman seems to have had built a set consisting of small shacks and canopies somewhere near Malibu instead of actually taking cast and crew to the Caribbean. The scene when the tourists arrive by palne is a riot in it's small potatoes budget- a mix of stock footage and a descent that was done with a tilt of the camera. There is a weak subplot involving revolutionaries trying to take over the island. I wouldn't be surprised if Corman used the guerillas as well as the brief battle scene in another film, a common Corman money-saver.
Zane Busby directed. She also plays head of the resorts daycare. Maybe you'll recognize her acting role from Cheech and Chongs "Up in Smoke" or the abysmal "Americathon"."