Stiff Upper Lips (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Making a satire of a movie genre is a lot more difficult than it seems. Sure there have been good ones. Westerns had "Blazing Saddles", disaster pics had "Airplane", and cop pics had "Naked Gun". But they are tough to pull off, and the successes are few and far between. Even Leslie Nielsen, king of the genre, bombed in a few like "Spy Hard" and "Dracula, Dead and Loving It". (By the way, Nielsen has 121 acting credits at IMDb, getting up there in Mastroianni territory.)

I was hopeful about this one. After all, if ever any movie genre was ripe for satire, it is those Merchant-Ivory pics about the British Empire.

Just the speech conventions alone make for hilarious basic material. The verbiage is always excessive, but my favorite verbal tic from these British period pieces is the double and triple emphatic. Everyone is "poor, poor Charles....", or "dear, dear daddy", and women never merely "want" something. Rather, they do SO want it EVER SO much. Seems that would make pretty good ammunition for the satirical shotgun.

But, I say, alas and alackaday, my high, high hopes were ever, ever so dashed, don't you know, my good, good man.

It gets off to a pretty good start with an opening parody of Chariots of Fire, but after that it is almost completely unfunny. In fact, ranked among all films by humor value, Stiff Upper Lips is funnier than Battleship Potemkin, but not as funny as Howard's End.

The plot: One university student brings his friend home to met his old maid sister, who is a codgerly 22 years old and still unmarrried.

Well, not only is the friend a complete bore, but it turns out he fancies the brother rather more than the sister, and he performs lifelessly when the sister climbs into his bed and demands "I want my sexual awakening, and I want it now"


A hint of aureola from Georgina Cates, when she is forced into a corset.
Luckily, there are servants and commoners around for just such purposes, and sis manages to bag herself one along the way, and ....

Never mind. You don't care, and neither do I.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • No special features at all.

  • Pretty good print, widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 screens.

Forget about it. Even Peter Ustinov is wasted except for a couple of fleeting gags.

This film is just not very funny.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: no major reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.4/10. Overrated, in my book.
  • With their dollars ... I love the IMDb entry for this. The film was re-released in February of this year, and the opening weekend was 709 dollars! That leaves it just a hair short of Titanic.

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