(4 out of 5 stars)
"I caught 'Stiff Upper Lips' on PBS tonight. It was the first time ever that I laughed my arse off watching 'Masterpiece Theatre.' (When the English lawn was unpacked from its crate and set up, in the middle of an Italian plaza, for a proper tea, I had to stick my fist in my mouth to keep from howling and waking the neighbors.) The plot is familiar enough, pieced together from various tedious English period dramas: Emily, a pretty old maid of 22 (Georgina Cates, from 'An Awfully Big Adventure'), and George, a strapping scum-of-the-earth, are denied true love because of (yawn) stifling social conventions and pretensions, as personified by some very funny stereotypes. Here, let's see if I can rattle them off: there is the prim auntie (Prunella Scales), the upper class twit with the teddy collection, the unctious vicar, the bloated India imperialist (Peter Ustinov), the fey academic fixated on epic poetry and dead languages -- why, there's even the dedicated butler who practices making face-less in the mirror. The long-running jokes about sexual repression are dead-on ("What ripping unmentionables you have!" coos Emily to George), and whenever the tension lets up -- that is, whenever sex is on -- one breathes a little sigh of relief knowing that the English are only human and occasionally do have their passions. (I used to wonder how they reproduced.) Come to think of it, this is the most and best I've seen of the English making babies since -- since -- well certainly not since I started watching 'Masterpiece Theatre.' If the movie is, as the reviewer before me complains, a trifle slow and at parts predictable, it's only the better to parody those godawful respectable Merchant Ivory soap operas. I can see why this self-deprecating humor might not appeal to American audiences used to the obvious (if wonderful) farce of Mel Brooks, but for Brits and others savvy to their dry dry wit and weary of Jane Austens and Kenneth Branaughs, 'Stiff Upper Lips' is a pure delight. Making it a bleeding shame that the video is priced at over 100$. Ah well. "As the poet Homer wrote...""
Jolly good show, old chap
M. A. Bechaz | Australia | 01/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Given the mixed reviews I read on the Amazon website about this one, I wasn't sure if it would be any good. Fortunately, though, I was pleasantly, nay, SIDE-SPLITTINGLY surprised! It was brilliant!
Don't be fooled into thinking this is just a parody of Merchant Ivory movies. It also pays extensive homage to Ken Russell's brilliant 'Lady Chatterley' as well, not to mention having a bit of a dig at Jane Eyre/Sense and Sensibility/et al.
You don't have to be a huge Merchant Ivory fan to like this, although it probably helps. Even though the last time I saw a Merchant Ivory movie was many years ago, I still got all the jokes in this. And even my boyfriend, who has never watched anything in the Merchant Ivory genre and probably never will, was falling about laughing. Some jokes are subtle, some are over the top and bawdy, but all are hilarious.
Prunella Scales and Peter Ustinov, two veteran actors at the top of their game, are absolutely wonderful in this, as are the rest of the cast.
"She has warlike swans?"
Todd Hagley | Decatur, GA | 11/21/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You've got to hand it to the producers and writers; in living up to the claim that there wasn't a parody of Merchant/Ivory films "..until now!" they've picked up the wit, the repressed feelings, overly romanticised locations and the achingly fierce British class war. Now if only they could have done it a little bit better. The cast does a fairly good job, but that only covers so much ground, and the third act of the film suffers when you realise that they've run out of things to spoof. The humour ranges between the urbane and the lewd, but then what are you watching it for? My wife and I laughed quite a bit, and it has a healthy amount of quotable phrases, which says a lot more than some other films out there.All in all, its a cute diversion."
Boccaccio | Denton, TX | 11/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who get it, delightful.For those who don't....well, I'm sorry, but it's just not the movie's fault."