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Australia 1987
Directed by
George Miller
91 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Les Patterson Saves The World

Barry Humphries, who co-wrote this with his third wife, Diane Millstead, is an anomaly, an intelligent, well-educated and cultured individual with an unparalleled, if ironic, appetite for low brow humour. If Bazza Mackenzie's crudities had a certain endearing naiveté softening them, his Sir Les Patterson character epitomizes his bent towards unbridled vulgarity (only outdone by Dudley Moore's and Peter Cook's Derek and Clive) and in Les Patterson Saves the World he gives full rein to his desire to offend polite society as the uncouth Sir Les teams up with Dame Edna Everage (Humphries' most enduring character) to save the world from a Middle Eastern bio-terrorist attack.

As a production it was a disaster. The producers lost their bottle prior to the film’s release and tried to clean it up but even so it was pilloried on release and re-cut but to no avail as it was universally panned as retrograde and suffering the added misfortune that the H.E.L.P disease bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the AIDS virus that was traumatising the world at the time. The film was a critical and commercial failure even in the UK where Sir Les was a popular creation, untarnished by the home market's cultural cringe.

Softened by the passage of time, during which “gross-out” humour has become mainstream, Les Patterson Saves the World has lost its power to offend but even so it comes across as dated and prurient, albeit quaintly so. Humphries maintains that much good material was sacrificed in the editing and re-editing process but then what he regards a “good” may not be everyone’s idea of same. What remains is a curio for Patterson enthusiasts and Humphries completists.

FYI: Director George Miller was the director of The Man From Snowy River, not the Mad Max George Miller

DVD Extras: An informative interview with Humphries, Reflections On My Attempt To Save The World; a contemporary radio interview; Radio ads; Alternate Ending; Stills Gallery; PDF of the film script; Umbrella Trailers

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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