Club Paradise Movie Review
Club Paradise is a prototypical specimen, starring a dozen actors in career lulls, including Mork, Twiggy, a gaggle of Second City vets, Jimmy Cliff, and even Lawrence of Friggin' Arabia. A word of warning: these leftovers are rotten.
We get a prologue in snowy Chicago, where firefighter Jack Monicker (Robin Williams, before he had a good agent) narrowly escapes death by explosion, so he hangs up his flame retardants and retires to a Caribbean island. Jack befriends down-on-his-luck beachfront hotelier and reggae singer Ernest (Cliff) and helps him rehab his resort and bring in wealthy American tourists. Meanwhile, corrupt officials are conspiring to take Ernest's club away, and a people's revolt is brewing on the island.
It's all incredibly stupid, especially the exploits of the American guests, most of whom starred on but never really got famous on Saturday Night Live and SCTV. Peter O'Toole slums as the cynical British governor-general of the island. And then there's Jack's love interest, Twiggy, in a sub-plot that gets about 90 seconds of screen time, and deserves less.
Williams himself is a problem as well. Because the character of Jack is so ill-defined, you can actually see Williams struggle to hold back the breakneck stand-up comic inside his brain. In other, more definitive roles (Moscow on the Hudson, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings) he's been able to find the proper balance, but he spends much of Club Paradise apologetically riffing past the lackluster lines he's been handed.
If you've got a penchant for screwball ensemble pieces and a miserable life, Club Paradise might divert your mind for 95 minutes. But if you've don't have something better to do with those 95 minutes, might I recommend a cooking class?