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The 100




High Spirits
(1988)
Reviewed by Diane Squires
Rating: 8.5 Beans

his film doesn't work on so many levels. The comedy isn't funny, the cast isn't likable, the romance is not only flat but horrendously misguided and disturbing, the effects are inept and Liam Neeson is probably still trying to live down his appearance as Martin, the flatulent ghost. Watching this movie is about as fun as having toe blisters, but not quite as interesting.

Our story begins...

Peter O'Toole stretches his acting range as the alcoholic ne'er-do-well owner of a dilapidated old Irish castle. Or was it Scottish? I forget. As fate would have it, the place is haunted by numerous ghosts- including O'Toole's dead father who pops up every so often to remind us of what a loser Peter is. Just in case we hadn't noticed already. Sheesh. Anyway, old Peter sees the hauntings as a great lure for tourists, so before you can say gosh n' begorrah, a busload of wacky American sightseers arrive. With a setup like that, hilarity is sure to ensue, nest-ce-pas?

I can't remember whether it was a pact with the Devil, evil space aliens or a secret government plot that made Steve Gutenberg a star, but it must have been one of those things or all three. Gutenberg is anti-charismatic. He walks on screen and you can't wait for something horrible to happen to him. In this case, his punishment is to be paired off with Daryl Hannah, who is equally unlikable as a ghost who's husband offed her on her wedding night. He probably couldn't take that sorry, unbeleivably silly quasi-Irish accent of hers.

As if death, reality and laws of physics weren't enough, the Gutenberg-Hannah romance is also plagued by their respective spouses. Beverly D'Angelo is Gutenberg's bitchy, yet less annoying than everyone else, wife. Liam Neeson proves himself a star in the making as Hannah's hubby, Martin, the flatulent ghost. Haha. It's so hilarious I forgot to laugh. He materializes in the shower, with a naked Beverly, and massages her back while breaking wind occasionally. There's comedy. Just for the record, even a farting Liam Neeson is far more attractive than Steve Gutenberg.

Rounding out the cast are Peter Gallagher and Jennifer Tilly. This is before either developed any kind of self-esteem. They play a would-be priest and the baby-voiced slut who will seduce him before the movie is over. Tee-hee. Isn't it naughty? Sex with priests and ghosts. Doesn't it give you a forbidden thrill. No? Kinda embarassing at best, and downright nauseating the rest of the time. Don't worry, it gets worse. Hannah and Gutenberg. In bed. Panting away. I was scared.

Needless to say, the ghosts don't show up until midway through the movie for one reason or another. The tourists almost leave. The ghosts appear and they put on a broadway musical in the barn to raise enough money to save the castle. No wait. That's another stupid, hackneyed, overused movie plot.

The ghosts scare everyone but the audience with their unimaginative blue screen effects. The castle isn't a fraud after all. Everyone pairs off. Peter Gallagher decides not to be a priest, so he can run off with Tilly. Peter O'Toole smiles because he's so wasted, he can't even remember that he was in this movie, let alone recognize how bad it was. Hannah and Gutenberg get their just reward- each other. Beverly D'Angelo gets Martin, the flatulent ghost. Liam Neeson gets a real career, so he doesn't have to play in this kind of sewage anymore. Everyone is happy.

I'd advise everyone on earth to avoid this film like the boil on the face of the entertainment industry that it is. However, I think I'm going to run out and buy myself a copy so I can watch it over and over. Come on. Liam Neeson. As Martin the flatulent ghost. Could you resist it?






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