Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Totally Um-Bongo

It says something about your age when, come a Bank Holiday, you automatically start flicking through the TV listings wondering what time in the afternoon The Great Escape is going to be on and which Bond film will be following in its wake. Nowadays that particular ritual seems to be long gone, which is a shame but there’s always something else.

Still, for full-blooded entertainment Channel 4 served up... Congo. There are films that are just plain bad, films that are so bad they’re good, and films that are bad but in the most marvellous, entertaining way. That’s the category this film falls into. I would love to have been in the office when this little beauty got pitched. Put this little nugget into a couple of brief sentences? Where do you start?

It has wild, blood-thirsty apes guarding a lost city in Africa that take out an expedition that has come looking for big-ass blue diamonds. Then there’s the second expedition, led by a black white hunter, that includes a technology expert who might be ex-CIA, a shifty Eastern European philanthropist, and a wet-weekend primatologist who have come along for the ride so that his talking gorilla, who has been painting something to do with the city in her dreams, can be let back into the wild.

The first country the reach in Africa is on the middle of a coup. So they buy their way out. Then when they fly off border guards try to shoot down their plane. They knock out the heat-seeking missiles with flares from a Very pistol. Then they parachute out, and the black white hunter jumps out holding on to the anaesthetized talking gorilla. Then there a whole lot of native tribes until they get to the lost city... which happens to be underneath a volcano that is ready to blow its stack!

At what point did they reach the point and think, okay, I figure we’ve enough to be getting on with here. I mean there’s already a talking gorilla! How much more do you need? (Of course the gorilla uses some synthesized voice software. I mean a real talking gorilla would be just plain silly).

As for the cast it starts with Bruce Campbell, Laura Linney and Ernie Hudson as the white hunter who obviously found his character after watching way too many Stewart Granger movies. Then Delroy Lindo steps in as a leader of the African militia who takes his fee, onscreen, in cash, and actually says to someone, “Liar, liar, pants on fire” before making his exit.

Sandwiched around him is Joe Pantoliano. And slathered over the top is the shifty European, cut from a thick slice of ham by Tim Curry who has decided that underplaying the role would be very, very wrong.

I suppose, instead of going all round the houses like that, they simply mentioned that it was based on a book by Michael Crichton. I guess a talking gorilla could been brought up in passing. Post-Jurassic Park, the executive probably just gave a thumbs up, slid to his knees, and started sucking on the big money cock.

And strangely enough, with all that mayhem and madness, and a final showdown that included shooting the killer apes with a diamond powered laser gun before lava spewed everywhere, it turned out to be quite enjoyable in a guilty-pleasure kind of way. Forget Charles Bronson digging tunnels and Steve McQueen jumping barbed wire fences on a motorbike, or all the variations of Bond saving the world: This should be the new Bank Holiday movie.

Having said that, is there a film with more added everything than Congo?


At 10:36 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

I’d love to be able to say the the epic film adaptation of Doom outdoes it, but sadly, it’s just shit.

However much I laugh at Karl Urban, I still know that decent actors are getting shoved out of the way by him.



At 10:54 pm, Blogger English Dave said...

Kill Rommell. I think it's on Movies For Men. It is so bad it is hysterical.


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