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When country hick Jed Clampett (Jim Varney) strikes it rich after he uncovers the biggest oil reserve in North America on his property in Arkansas, he is encouraged to move to the big city and start a new life for himself and his family. Loading up their truck with a few meager possessions, Jed, Granny (Cloris Leachman), daughter Elly May (Erika Eleniak) and nephew Jethro (Diedrich Bader) move to the land of swimming pools and movie stars, Beverly Hills, where Jed is keen to find a wife for himself and transform his tomboy daughter into a lady.

Review by Craig Miller:
On paper, the decision to adapt one of the most loved US sitcoms to the big screen must have seemed like a no-brainer. The Beverly Hillbillies had sat atop the ratings tree for several years of its nine-year TV run from 1962 - 1971 and its enormous popularity had even spawned a couple of equally popular spin-offs (Petticoat Junction and Green Acres).

Unfortunately for this 1993 remake, the southern charms and neighbourly sentiments from these original TV series are nowhere to be found and, like the decision to adapt, what ended up being produced is also a complete no-brainer!

From the outset when ex-Baywatch beauty Erika Eleniak wrestles a bear and kicks it in the mummy/daddy button, you know that the child-orientated humour and daft, dumbed-down delivery is going to hurt you as much as Erika's kick hurt the bear.

The paper-thin storyline could have been lifted straight from an episode of the TV series and most of the gags can be seen coming from a mile away. There's an attempt to transfer the humour and comic sensibilities of the original into the modern-day arena, but it fails miserably apart from some nicely realised gags at the expense of the Beverly Hills high school system.

Director Penelope Spheeris proves that her hilarious work with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey on 1992's Wayne's World was a complete fluke, as she resorts to cheap material and a boring point-and-shoot style of filmmaking that fails to spark any real interest.

At least she had the common sense to include genuine class when it came to the film's music, with the honky tonk melancholy of Hank Williams' "I get so lonesome I could cry" as well as classics from Dolly Parton and Jerry Scoggins, showing she was on the right track. Snaps must also go to casting agent Glenn Daniels who assembled a convincing cast of actors who totally look their parts (if only they could act them) and there's also a nice cameo from the original Jed Clampett himself, Buddy Ebsen plus, if I have to mention a third pro, I guess the lighting was pretty good too!

Even though Spheeris completely misses the point with her over-the-top characterisations of the Clampetts and then further burdens the film with too many obvious jokes and weak story machinations, the problem for The Beverly Hillbillies is not that it is a bad adaptation of a once classic sitcom, but rather that it is simply a bad film.

Published March 31, 2005

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(US, 1993)

CAST: Jim Varney, Diedrich Bader, Erika Eleniak, Lily Tomlin, Lea Thompson, Rob Schneider, Dabney Coleman, Cloris Leachman

DIRECTOR: Penelope Spheeris

SCRIPT: Story: Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal, Screenplay: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Jim Fisher & Jim Staahl

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 1.85:1 16:9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 7, 2004

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