The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)

Beverly Hills is the most overpriced stretch of real estate on the planet, but with The Beverly Hillbillies and Beverly Hills Cop III released in the same summer, it seems likely that by the autumn the place will be about as desirable property-wise as a development downwind of a leaky nuclear reactor. And, hard as it may be to credit, The Beverly Hillbillies is worse than the Eddie Murphy sequel. In the 1960s, The Beverly Hillbillies was a surprise TV hit, following the adventures of Jed Clampett and his brood, dirt-poor Ozark farmers who struck oil and relocated to California ('swimming pools ... movie stars'), where homespun wisdom, refreshing honesty and twenty billion dollars made them welcome in the hearts of the rich and shallow. Aside from the fact that the title scores seventy points of recognition value in a studio executive demographic reared on reruns, there is no earthly reason why the '90s should be troubled with a big screen remake of a show that wasn't actually very good in the first place. But here it is ... The only thing the film gets right comes early, with a mercifully straight version of 'The Ballad of Jed Clampett', the show's memorable theme song (recorded by the blue grass band who later scored Bonnie and Clyde), rather than (cf: The Addams Family) some horrible rap arrangement of the same. Things go from appalling to intolerable as characters are introduced: Jim Varney tones down his Ernest obnoxiousness as Jed, but the rest of his family (Cloris Leachman as a game Granny, Erica Eleniak as the unfeasably-breasted Elly May, Diedrich Bader as big lunk Jethro) go all out for grinning goodfellowship. Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman fume as the stuffy bankers who try to introduce the Clampetts into society and Lea Thompson (Howard the Duck and this in one career!) keeps the 'plot' boiling as the schemer out to marry into the Clampett millions. Spheeris, who made not only Wayne's World but the Decline of Western Civilisation movies, would obviously not get involved in this. The Space Alien Bodysnatcher using her name does a terrible job of trundling out lame jokes (there's a topical one about 'Cousin Bill' in the White House), hokey guest appearances (Buddy Ebsen, the original Jed, pops up as Barnaby Jones) and goofy hoe-downs. This one racks up such bad karma that it'll be lucky to be reincarnated as a bacardi ad.
KIM NEWMAN

First Published In: Film Review (issue unknown)


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