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Les Patterson Saves the World

Year: 1987
Production Co: Humpstead Productions
Director: George Miller
Producer: Sue Milliken
Writer: Barrie Humphires/Diane Millstead
Cast: Barrie Humphries, Thaao Penghilis, Pamela Stephenson, Henri Szeps, Andrew Clarke, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Andrew Clarke, Graham Kennedy, John Clarke, Joan Rivers
It might be a long time since I'd seen anything Barry Humphries had done on Les Patterson, but I always got the impression the character was a sharp satire on the cultural cringe aimed at the chattering classes who watched ABC rather than Hey Hey It's Saturday, never more than a 'straight' comedy character.

There's none of that here, either that or I missed the point and Humphries was content to create just another silly character the likes of which you'd see in a Rodney Rude act.

This film was also too late to fit into the New Wave of the Schepisi and Beresford days, it came closer to the age when the only Australian movies anybody had ever heard of were Mad Max and Crocodile Dundee.

Perhaps scripted to appeal to a broad audience and not just the chattering classes Humphries mostly spoke to with his act, director George Miller (no, not that one) has gone for straight slapstick, and as such this movie isn't nearly as funny as you expect, going for more of an early Farrelly brother/late Zucker brothers feel.

Les (Humphries) is a low level diplomat who embarrasses the government once too often when he sets the king of a squalid Middle Eastern oil dictatorship on fire with a lit fart during a UN address. When the powers that be know very well the ruling elites of the country in question want him dead for his outrageoues trangression they assign him ambassador, but a coup by the military saves him at the last second and he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving a top secret virus the new regime is developing to conquer the world.

A spot-the-personality of Australian acting talent from the late 80s and few laughs in a silly story make it only barely worth your time. Watch it for the sake of an ongoing education of Australian cinema history only.

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