16 March 2002 | The_Movie_Cat
"I'm getting a little tired of your crude remarks."
Mutiny on the Buses is a sophisticated, intertextual, self-reflexive discourse on the nature of the classic novel by Charles Nordhoff. It also takes in Kafkaesque leanings by exercising a circular narrative. That some could mistake it for a witless, charmless and crass 70s sex comedy is beyond me.
The film also exhibits a razor-sharp social conscience. After accidentally demolishing a stop, Jack (Bob Grant) suggests "We'll say some hooligans did it... lot of stupid louts doing things like that these days."
In all seriousness though it really is utter garbage. There's an increase in slapstick, the ineptness of which would be funny were it not for the jingly-jangy 70s soundtrack. Definitely not one of Ron Grainer's better days.
In its defence, this one probably has a better plot than the others (which isn't exactly difficult) as Blakey gets a new manager to assess his operation. Blakey's forced to clamp down with more stringent rules, cueing an inevitable worker rebellion. When Blakey orders his staff to wear "nothing but their uniforms", they come without shoes and shirts. This also includes the seven-strong female crew, who like nothing better than exposing their breasts to the entire staff. Even a company darts night can be rigged by showing a pair of red knickers.
The climactic pay-off is a shameless plug for Windsor Safari Park, with a lion and monkeys on the bus. However, this desperate pile of contrived cheese is again salvaged by the wonderful Stephen Lewis. Some of the situations are just gross - a baby defecates in a potty while Stan's at the dinnertable. Rather predictably, he later excretes in Arthur's cap. The baby, that is. Not Stan, though that would have probably been funnier.
As with my two other Buses reviews, I have to stress the humour division inherent in the set-up. When Blakey (A creation of comic genius in Lewis's hands) is on screen, it's hilarious. When he isn't, it's absolutely dire. Most of the "humour" is, as usual, shockingly un-PC. Stan strings girls along with the promise of marriage in order to get sex, and accuses Blakey of being a homosexual. Other unsettling scenes show Michael Robbins shaking his baby and screaming for it to "Shut up!" Letting off a foam extinguisher in someone's face is also shown to be within acceptable safety guidelines.
A clothes-ripping catfight threatens to engender interest, though is foiled by involving Anna Karen. This is particularly nauseous when Reg Varney accidentally gropes his screen sister's left breast.
Very occasionally a line might get a laugh in an unforeseen modern context. After seeing a female conductor emerging with Stan from the top deck, Blakey cries: "You know the regulations, you're not even supposed to eat your lunch upstairs." Yes, this film is truly terrible... yet in a funny sort of way I can't help but like it.