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  Les Patterson Saves the World So You Don't Have To
Year: 1987
Director: George Miller
Stars: Barry Humphries, Pamela Stephenson, Thaao Penghlis, Andrew Clarke, Henri Szeps, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Elizabeth McIvor, Garth Meade, Arthur Sherman, Josef Drewniak, Esben Storm, Joy Westmore, Connie Hobbs, Graham Kennedy, Joan Rivers
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sir Les Patterson (Barry Humphries) is an Australian diplomat who is no stranger to the bottle, in fact he's never happier than when he has a drink in his hand, so when he is supposed to give a speech to the United Nations, his underlings are aghast to find that he is in an advanced state of intoxication and try to counter the effects by feeding him baked beans. This works to some extent, but calamity befalls him when mid-talk at the podium he bends over, someone lights a lighter, and Sir Les's flaming fart sets one of the delegates on fire...

Although he had a rare old time making it, Humphries did not in hindsight view Les Patterson Saves the World as one of his finer achievements, probably once he saw the reviews and reactions of a public who thought he had gone too far this time. Thus the film was relegated to dreadful failure category as those who claimed to have actually enjoyed the film were few and far between, yet after a while it did gather its own cult following among those who embraced its rollicking bad taste and willingness to insult anyone as far as the eye could see, all based around Humphries' theories about the liberating qualities of vulgarity.

So while you may not be part of a huge gang of Sir Les adherents if you appreciate his star vehicle, you could at least reassure yourself that you had cottoned onto something in this that not many others had seen. Either that or your sense of humour leaned heavily towards the disgusting, but for connoisseurs of the revolting in their comedy there was plenty of opportunity to indulge yourself. Humphries, co-writing with then-wife Diane Millstead, let loose with a turn of phrase as colourful as it was low rent: when the Aussie Prime Minister informs those assembled that he wouldn't give Sir Les the wind from his arse to blow on his soup you know you're not dealing with Noel Coward.

The plot doesn't really get going until almost half an hour was over with, half an hour of cheerful sexism, racism and gags about bodily functions that was, but basically Sir Les has been sent to the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Abu Niviah, ostensibly to become the Australian ambassador there, actually because their leader was the one who he set alight with his thunderous fart and the man wants revenge. The new ambassador is saved from the death of a thousand cuts or whatever when there's a sudden coup, and Colonel Richard Godowni (Thaao Penghlis) takes over - but he has his own ideas about making his mark on the world.

Meanwhile Patterson makes his skidmark on the world, but still finds time to bed young ladies including Pamela Stephenson as a French research scientist. She is assisting Dr Charles Herpes (Henri Szeps) - the one they named the disease after - who has found a cure for a rare affliction which has mysteriously spread to the corridors of American power. The reason? the Colonel is sending infected toilet seats there, holding the world to ransom, meaning Sir Les is our James Bond stand-in for what looks like a sixties spy spoof gone horribly wrong. Dame Edna Everage also shows up in a female Bond role, complete with koala mascot, and love interest for Richard in a ridiculous development, but by this time you'll either have bailed out or grown accustomed to its dubious charm as it heroically pursued the unutterable. When Joan Rivers (as the US President) isn't the supplying the dodgiest jokes, this is some kind of achievement in itself. Cheer up, it's funny at times. Music by Tim Finn (of Crowded House).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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George Miller  (1945 - )

Australian director, writer and producer whose Mad Max, Mad Max 2 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome were worldwide hits. His segment of the Twilight Zone movie was a highlight, and he followed it up with an adaptation of The Witches of Eastwick.

The nineties saw him offer medical drama Lorenzo's Oil (he was once a medical student) plus curious sequel Babe: Pig in the City and in the 2000s he enjoyed the international success of the animated Happy Feet and its sequel. In 2015 he successfully revived his most celebrated franchise in Mad Max: Fury Road. Not to be confused with the other Australian director George Miller.

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